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All benefits cancelled.

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
Well this has been a bit of an issue that's unfolded in the past week, and I'm lost at what to do.

About 18 months ago, my family pretty much abandoned me, and wanted nothing more. I spent months living with drug dealers, sleeping rough and sofa surfing. And it was only last september that I managed to get a place long enough to stay to claim benefit. Albeit that was just me crashing in my friends one room bedsit.

I made a claim for benefit, along side my girlfriend at the end of september, and it was finally processed and started paying me and my girlfriend £161 a week. So following that, we tried to find a 1 bedroom flat to live in, so we had a permanent place of residence so we could actually get back into work, or i could start my IT business properly.

Aha, which is impossible.
Ever tried being 17, in debt because you've been made homeless, claiming JSA and trying to get a Landlord to let you live in a property for a month, before LHA (Housing Benefit is paid). Without deposit or first month in advance.

After christmas, from other family members and friends, between us we'd saved up £700, and found a 2 bedroom flat, for £550 a month. The landlord, said he'd let us live there for 5 weeks, and pay all our bills for £700 (Just under). So we got in touch with housing benefit made our claim, and after weeks of constant calling the council (we got denied once because the person sorting out our claim at the council, left it too long to process our claim that the time window ended)

They awarded us £368 a month LHA (£92.30 a week), meaning we had to find the difference in our rent (£550) which is £182. And we get £320 a month to live on from JSA.

So after rent is paid, we're left with about £128. To pay bills, food etc...
But because i'm NOT 18 (I am in 2 months), I have to go into the Job Centre every 8 weeks to 're-evaluate my claim'. Last week I went to do exactly that, and received a phone call later that day.

All our benefits, which is (Housing, JSA and Council Tax). Would be cancelled, as they deemed that the life we live is too expensive.

What the fucking hell am i meant to do? There is NO WHERE we can move to, the intensive support team for homeless teenagers, might as well not exist, as there is a huge waiting list of council properties and I've been on it for at least a year.

I honestly can't believe they phoned to tell me, we've been denied benefits because life is too expensive. NO SHIT. I'm not meant to live in a mansion and an extravagant life style.

Who can I talk to? We have till the end of this month, and then we are homeless again.
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Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Talk to Shelter?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    The rules on benefits for under 18s can be complicated and this probably isn't the best place to get advice.

    I'd recommend that you get in touch with Crisis Skylight if they are near you, or failing that Shelter or your local CAB.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    This is an under 18's help forum right :S

    And who/what is Shelter or Crisis Skylight.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    It's a forum that includes under 18s, yes, but I think that the point that is being made is that because the benefit rules for under 18s are so complicated, you're not going to be able to get the kind of answers you need on here. You need very specialist advice. There are plenty of people on here with experience of dealing with benefits and how the rules for those work, but I can't think of anyone with any detailed knowledge of how it works for under 18s. Similarly, thesite general information doesn't have that kind of detail.

    But - you will find people here who know where to point you.

    Shelter is a charity that provides support and advice etc on housing related issues. They will almost definitely have specialists who can help you and understand how the rules work. The main shelter website is http://www.shelter.org.uk/ and their advice for young people section is http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/advice_for_young_people . They also have a helpline you can ring. Have a look around those, and see if that's any help. If you can't find what you're looking for and further advice there then we'll try and dig a bit deeper for you.

    Crisis Skylight is a charity for single homeless people (I know you mentioned your girlfriend, but don't rule them out just yet). Their website is http://www.crisis.org.uk/ and from there you can find out if they've got anything in your area.

    You could also try askTheSite, which is an advice section on here that directs your questions to specialists, rather than just the peer support you'll get on a forum.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Spent past 30 minutes trying to call Shelter, i didn't get through, apparently they're all busy. And the robot told me to contact the Council, but whenever i talk to council or jobcentre they send me from pitch to post, and no one helps :(

    I've been doing this too long, why they fuck me over so much :/
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Lunchtime is probably a really popular time for calling Shelter - but they're worth perservering with.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    There's also a bit on their website (on the front page) that helps you find local advice services.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Nothing in plymouth for under 18's
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Shelter have an office in Plymouth. I think this is in Cobourg House where CAB also is. There is also Connexions and The Zone. Both are in Union Street.

    I think you're better off going in and speaking to someone than phoning them.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Been to Zone, they said/did nothing. Have connections at 3pm, but they don't deal with housing/benefits (crazy, cos they say they do).

    I can't find shelter in plymouth
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    It's in the same building as CAB, which is Mayflower Street.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    For anyone else wondering, or in the same sort of situation.

    I found out today, that if you have no source of income, and they refused you Jobseekers. They'll still pay your housing benefit, if you explain to them you have absolutely no income and you'll be made homeless.

    which is great, so atleast i'm getting housing now.

    EDIT: For under 18's only as far as i know.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Shikari wrote: »
    For anyone else wondering, or in the same sort of situation.

    I found out today, that if you have no source of income, and they refused you Jobseekers. They'll still pay your housing benefit, if you explain to them you have absolutely no income and you'll be made homeless.

    which is great, so atleast i'm getting housing now.

    EDIT: For under 18's only as far as i know.

    I think this is for anyone; but they may ask what you're living off / income is.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Contact social services. If you're under 18 and about to be made homeless they have to intervene as a priority.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Social Services, seems more like a myth than something real. How're you meant to contact them?

    And I've been denied a second time benefits. Even with the reduced rent, they said our lives are too expensive and that's it really. What can i do.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Ask them for guidance as to how you reduce your cost of living?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    We don't need to reduce our cost of living. That's the problem!!
    Our life isn't expensive. We've been living fine like this for the past 5 weeks. We've always got spare money, all our bills are always paid, the rent is always paid. Everything is sorted, and we're still left with about £60 a week, to do whatever with.

    This is why it's so ridiculous!!!
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Whowhere wrote: »
    Contact social services. If you're under 18 and about to be made homeless they have to intervene as a priority.

    Social Services is a myth. I googled it and i can't even find a government website.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Social services definitely isn't a myth. It's usually run at a local council level, so you won't find anything about it on a national basis.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    By my calculations, you're spending over 80% of your income on rent.

    You're also spending 50% more on your rent than LHA has deemed to be a reasonable rent for your area.

    You're also a very young couple, living in a 2 bedroom flat - which is entirely supported by benefits.

    Looking at it like that I can see why they'd say your lifestyle is too expensive.

    I really, really struggle to understand how you can pay bills and living costs on the money you say you've got left over each month. My gas & electric come to not far off that.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'll go into details with finances then.

    Income: £368 LHA and £320 JSA
    Total: £680

    Rent: -£471 (Reduced, my landlord is my dad, therefore only paying what he pays now)
    Bills: -£40 a month (We don't pay water, rarely use heating and only electrics we really use is the TV occasionally, and lighting..)
    Food: -£40 a month (I buy special offers and cheapest food, and make meals from scratch, plus we don't actually at each much)
    Total -£551

    Leaving us with £130 spare change each month.
    Now you tell me, that our life is too expensive.

    Everything else is really a luxury.
    Believe or not if that, is true but we really don't spend much money. But we also don't have a choice to live here, as no where will let us move in.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Not that you're whole lifestyle is too expensive, simply that your rent (which will be what is used as an indicator of your cost of living) is expensive. Massively disproportionately expensive compared to your total income.

    I'm not saying it's impossible to do - but when any looks at that to try and analyse it, the numbers look improbable.

    If I was looking at your budgeting, I would be very surprised that your household bills come in that low for a 2 bed flat. Generally you'd be talking that much each [/] rather than total. Gas, electric, council tax (although by the sounds of it you might be exempt that) phone line, start to add up.

    £40 a month also sounds like earth shatteringly low food costs - unless you're getting a significant number of your meals somewhere else.

    My guess would be that the real issue that the Job Centre are having is the difference between your rent and the LHA. It may also be that your dad is your land lord. There's something in that that if I put my super cynical hat on, just doesn't quite tie up with being completely unsupported by your family.

    I'm not suggesting for a moment that it is, but it easily reads a lot like you're claiming that you've been kicked out by family, now living in a flat owned by one of your parents, and using the benefit system to provide an income to your dad.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    they wouldnt cancel your benefits because they think your lifestyle is too expensive. They dont sit around making judgements like that, although they could only pay you what they think is reasonable. They probably wouldnt say that a 17 year old with their own flat would be reasonable, and unfortunately if they find out your dad is renting to you, they will make you pay back every single penny of HB, as youre not entitled to it, if the landlord is a close relative.

    I would think you could get a room in a houseshare for cheaper than that
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Shikari wrote: »
    Social Services is a myth. I googled it and i can't even find a government website.

    They should be on the local council website.
    nfortunately if they find out your dad is renting to you, they will make you pay back every single penny of HB, as youre not entitled to it, if the landlord is a close relative.

    It is much more complicated than that I think. I think the name is contrived tenancy.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    well yeah, i know its more complicated than that, but thats the gist of it.

    My uncle rented a room from his brother, and had to pay back every penny when they found out.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    If you are under the age of 18 and your partner is under the age of 18 you can only claim JSA if you either meet the conditions for income support (you're a parent or a carer) or if you would otherwise suffer severe financial hardship if you are not paid the benefit. Therefore the JobCentre+ will look at your income and your expenditure and if they think your expenditure is too high they will decide that you would not suffer severe financial hardship if they removed your JSA.

    The things they will look at will include the amount of rent you are paying and what you are spending on food. They will also look at whether they think someone else is actually supporting you. In this case they'd be querying why a) you're spending less than £5 per person per week on food- I'd be expecting a couple to be spending £30 a week) and b) why you are able to afford such an expensive flat.

    Following on from this, they would look at whether someone else should be supporting you and, indeed, whether they are. They would look at who owns your flat and they'd be questioning how you can be estranged from both of your parents whilst living in a flat owned by one of your parents. Bear in mind that you cannot claim housing benefit if it is not a legitimate commercial tenancy and they will essentially look at whether your father would make you homeless if you don't pay the rent. If your father lives in the flat as well (this includes any shared accommodation, e.g. shared kitchen) then you are specifically barred from claiming housing benefit. If you have not declared the relationship with your landlord then you are likely to be committing benefit fraud.

    Based on what you've told us, I'd say that the JC+ have made the right decision and that your housing benefit will also be stopping just as soon as your council know that your landlord is your father.

    I'm an experienced benefits adviser working with young people, for the record. If I say it's too complicated for this forum then how's about believing me instead of telling me I'm wrong?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Basically what Arctic Roll and the others have said.

    I don't understand how, as you say your parents have disowned you but rent you a flat. I would've though as an under eighteen you're his financial responsibility so how can he charge for cost of living.

    You also cannot be spending just £40 on bills a month, wow I wish I had your skills, I am lucky if my phone and net is less than that per month.

    From the looks of it them stopping your benefits seem perfectly justified.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    i wouldnt go so far as to say justified, as i think its shitty, but its within their rules
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    For his housing benefit, yes, it is, I rent of my in laws and I do not get anything and I doubt he declared this when applying for housing benefit. A parent should never charge a child rent if they know they'll be getting it paid by tax payers.
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