Earlier this year, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) identified 22,500 Housing Benefit claimants affected by the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) underpayment and Incapacity Benefit reassessment corrective exercise. Local authorities began checking if arrears were due for those claimants between 2011 and 2019.
DWP has now said that since the initial exercise was completed in March, further cases have been identified that have subsequently had their Income Related ESA award reassessed. However, DWP added that it expects the number of cases to be low.
Once DWP has reassessed the Income Related ESA award, a letter will be issued to the claimant detailing the periods of any benefit arrears payment. DWP also said that this letter advises the claimant to contact their local authority to request that their Housing Benefit award is reassessed for the relevant dates set out in the letter.
The letter will play a key role in accessing any Housing Benefit arrears payments, so keep it in a safe place.
This is because DWP advises that if people contact their local authority to request their Housing Benefit award is reassessed, they will be asked to provide the DWP letter as proof - only then will the local authority reassess their Housing Benefit award and pay any arrears that may be due.
Incapacity Benefit Reassessment corrective exercise
In March 2022, the DWP began migrating Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disability Allowance, Income Support cases to ESA from 2011 onwards.
Entitlement to ESA Income Related was not initially considered if Income Support was not in payment at the point of migration, the DWP explained at the time.
This led to the DWP Incapacity Benefit Reassessment LEAP exercise which has repaid 112,000 ESA claimants a total of £589 million as of January 16, 2020.
The guidance explained: “We originally presented details of the LEAP exercise and its potential impact on HB to the Practitioners’ Operational Group (POG) on 20 February 2020 but further action was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are now able to share details of the impact on HB.
“If the cases affected by the ESA IBR LEAP exercise had been correctly awarded ESA (IR) and the claimant had also been claiming HB, they would have been entitled to passported HB at the maximum rate.”
However, it also pointed out that “many claimants affected by the exercise, who were also claiming HB were already on the maximum rate of HB, but some were not”.
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