Right First Time: Z2K’s New Complaint Project 

Z2K clients are reliant on the DWP and local authority administration, both to be re-housed them and to claim and maintain their benefit applications. When administration goes  wrong, it can make a deep impact on our clients lives. Stopping and cutting the benefits our clients rely on can bring about a daily struggle to survive, which can lead to feelings of despair, hopelessness and severe trauma. Cases are resolved, but authorities are often not challenged, in order to improve services and continue to make the same mistakes.

Right First Time is a three year project which aims to address these cases of maladministration. Cases will be raised via complaint. The project will provide an explanation from authorities, seek compensation for clients and aim to improve services so that the same mistakes are not repeated.

The project will aim to build relationships with other organisations, so that they can refer complaint cases to Z2K so that more cases are captured. We will identify liaison services with local authorities and government departments so that a dialogue can be established bringing about a culture of change.

Fore more information contact Daniel Wrapson, Complaints Caseworker at Z2K.

Vacancy: Tenancy Support Officer

We are looking for a new Tenancy Support Officer to join our Next Door project. Next Door aims to reduce homelessness by providing access to the private rented sector for the homeless or insecurely housed who are not entitled to statutory help. It has operated successfully for 4 years and has now developed to include support to hostel accommodation for homeless adults under 35 years of age.

This is an exciting opportunity to work with our experienced Housing Liaison Coordinator, who developed this project from scratch, and to help some of the most deprived people in London, the young single homeless, get off the streets, improve their lives and learn important life skills. Continue reading

Housing benefit claims and the proper documentation

Housing-Benefit-formTom approached us for assistance after his mother passed away. He was living in the family home and in receipt of Employment Support Allowance for his health issues. He was also the carer for his disabled brother. Tom was told he could succeed to the tenancy and was told he had to make payments towards the in use and occupations charges. He had made a claim for housing benefit and was paying the ineligible charges Continue reading

Camden council proposed introduction of 100% Council Tax Support

No Poll Tax 2From 15th August Camden council will be consulting on it’s Council Tax Support Scheme for 2017/18. The options to be consulted on include maintaining support at 91.5%, reducing support, increasing support to 100% or changing the scheme entirely.

Unusually the council’s preferred option is to increase support to 100%. If this change goes ahead then 11,500 of Camden’s lowest income residents will once again be free from the burden of paying Council Tax. Camden say that they can now afford this because the falling number of Council Tax Support claimants has reduced the cost of the scheme and the increase in their Council Tax base means that more resources are available.

It is estimated that implementing 100% support will cost £1.43m per year. However this total cost will be offset by a number of savings. For example the administrative cost of collection will be reduced as staff will no longer waste time and resources chasing the relatively small amounts owed by claimants. Indeed Camden estimate that they will actually collect £876,000 more if they focus collection resources on enforcing larger debts.

This proposal is very welcome. Although Camden has continually offered some of the highest support in London since the abolition of Council Tax Benefit in 2013, it’s 8.5% minimum payment is nevertheless a burden on claimants. For example there were 4,669 Council Tax Support claimants in arrears at the end of 2015/16, while over 500 claimants were referred to bailiffs in the same year. If the proposed change to 100% support goes through then claimants will be freed from the prospect of such enforcement action.

At a time when many authorities are cutting the support available under their schemes it is refreshing to see a council moving in the opposite direction. Indeed it is quite possible that Camden will be the first council to totally abolish their minimum payment and introduce 100% and for that they should be roundly congratulated.

Case study: income support appeal

dwpMs Chaudhary came to Z2K a few months ago very distressed as her Income Support had been stopped and she had incurred an overpayment for the same benefit. Ms Chaudhary lives as a lone parent with 5 children aged between 10 months and 23 years. She received £107.70 a week from income support. Ms Chaudhary is a full time carer for one of her sons and so relies on Carers Allowance, Child Benefit and Income Support as her only source of income.

Ms Chaudhary’s Income Support had stopped because the DWP had decided that on the balance of probability she was living with her former partner, who works more than 24 hours a week. Had this been the case Ms Chaudhary would not be entitled to Income Support. However it was clear that the DWP had made an incorrect decision. Ms Chaudhary has not lived with her former partner for some time. However her partner, who is the father of her children, visits her address on an average of 2-3 nights a week to see his kids. During nights he was on call as a taxi driver. He would often sit up during those nights at Ms Chaudhary’s house waiting to be called out on a job. Continue reading