What’s new

The pages on Shelter Legal are updated regularly to reflect changes in the law. This page lists the most recent updates to Shelter Legal.

Older people: remaining at home

Changes made 29 January 2019

A link to Let's Talk has been added to the page. Let's Talk is an online resource that helps people struggling with household energy or water charges to find sources of support, including grants and benefits.

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Public sector equality duty

Changes made 28 January 2019

In Powell v Dacorum BC [2019] EWCA Civ 23, the Court of Appeal held that the public sector equality duty (PSED) had not been engaged prior to the local authority’s decision to seek possession against the applicant, because the council had no evidence that he was disabled. The tenant's appeal against the authority's decision to enforce the suspended possession order (SPO) on the basis of its failure to comply with the PSED was dismissed. The Court held that the authority had complied with the duty by (1) attempting to contact the tenant, his GP and his support services in order to find out if there had been any change in his circumstances when it was considering whether to enforce the SPO, and (2) by carrying out a full assessment and proportionality exercise when information from his GP about his potential disability came to light shortly before applying to court for enforcement. [PREVIOUS WHAT'S NEW 22 JANUARY 2019] Under section 149(1) of the Equality Act 2010 a public authority must have regard to its duty to avoid unlawfully discriminating against a person with a protected characteristic. To this end a public authority landlord should carry out a public sector equality duty (PSED) assessment prior to deciding to seek possession. In Forward v Aldwyck Housing Group Ltd [2019] EWHC 24 (QB), the tenant appealed against a possession order granted to his landlord on the discretionary grounds of nuisance and breach of tenancy following drug dealing from his flat. It was argued that the tenant was potentially a victim of ‘cuckooing’ (where a vulnerable person’s accommodation is taken over by other people for their own ends). The High Court stated that the PSED ‘adds value’ to disability discrimination legislation in that it requires a broad impact assessment of proposed action. The Court held that the landlord’s PSED assessment was inadequate, however, in the absence of clear evidence of a causal link between the tenant’s disability and the drug dealing activity even if the landlord had carried out an adequate PSED assessment this would not have altered the correctness of the lower court’s decision that it was reasonable to grant a possession order as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

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Eligibility for universal credit

Changes made 24 January 2019

Following the regulations that introduced a gateway condition to prevent claimants who are entitled to a severe disability premium (SDP) in connection with an existing 'legacy benefit' from claiming universal credit, the Department for Work and Pensions issued HB Circular A1/2019 to provide guidance for local authorities on housing benefit for claimants who are entitled to the SDP. [PREVIOUS WHAT'S NEW 16 JANUARY 2019] From 16 January 2019, regulation 2 of the Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) (SDP Gateway) Amendment Regulations 2019 SI 2019/10 introduces a gateway condition to prevent claimants who are entitled to a severe disability premium in connection with an existing 'legacy benefit' from claiming universal credit. [PREVIOUS WHAT'S NEW 27 DECEMBER 2018] With effect from 31 December 2018, regulation 4 of the Universal Credit and Jobseeker's Allowance (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/1129 revokes the Universal Credit (Housing Costs Element for claimants aged 18 to 21) regulations 2017 SI 2017/252 to restore eligibility for the housing costs element of universal credit to 18 to 21 year olds.

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How LHA is calculated

Changes made 24 January 2019

In force from 25 January 2019, the Rent Officers (Housing Benefit and Universal Credit Functions) (Amendment) Order 2018 SI 2018/1332 amends Schedule 3B of the Rent Officers (Housing Benefit Functions) Order 1997 SI 1997/1984 to provide that specified local housing allowance rates in certain areas can be increased by 3 per cent in 2019/20.

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Right to reside

Changes made 21 January 2019

From 30 March 2019, EU nationals living in the UK and their family members will need to apply and obtain settled or pre-settled status in order to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021 (or 31 December 2020 in case of 'no deal'). Irish citizens and people with indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK will be exempted. People with other types of EU residence documents certifying their right to reside in the UK will also need to apply in order to be compliant. All the rules on how to apply to the EU Settlement scheme and related fees are on Gov.uk. The scheme opened nationally (on a trial and voluntary basis) from 21 January 2019 for certain EU nationals holding a biometric passport. People in need of advice about when and whether they should apply for settlement status, or any other aspect of the application process should be referred to an immigration adviser. The rights of EU nationals to housing and social security assistance, and the rules about proving their right to reside in the UK are not affected in the meantime.

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Council tax support

Changes made 14 January 2019

With effect from 14 January 2019, the Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/1346 amend the Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements) (England) Regulations 2012 SI 2012/2885 to uprate figures relating to non-dependant deductions, the applicable amount, and the calculation of a person’s alternative maximum council tax reduction on or after 1 April 2019.

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Basic protection/excluded occupiers

Changes made 09 January 2019

This section has been restructured in response to user feedback.

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Benefit rates 2019/20

Changes made 09 January 2019

Pages with the rates to be used to calculate housing benefit in 2019/20 have been added to Shelter Legal. These figures are due to come into effect on 1 April 2019 for all cases. A link has been added to HB Circular A10/2017 which contains related guidance. NB, the orders or regulations bringing the rates for in 2019/20 into effect are still subject to approval through the Parliamentary process.

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Treated as not liable for rent

Changes made 09 January 2019

Under regulation 9(1)(d) of the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006, a claimant is to be treated as not liable for rent where the landlord is a parent of the claimant’s child. In South Lanarkshire Council v DG (HB) [2018] UKUT 417 (AAC), the Upper Tribunal held that the regulation applied whether the parent was a sole landlord or one of joint landlords.

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Support for mortgage interest

Changes made 27 December 2018

With effect from 1 January 2019, the rate of interest charged by the DWP on a support for mortgage interest loan decreases to 1.5 per cent from 1.7 per cent. Under regulation 15(5) of the Loans for Mortgage Interest Regulations 2017 SI 2017/725, the interest rate is linked to the Office for Budget Responsibility’s forecast of gilt rate. The rates may change on 1 January and 1 July each year. The current rate can be found on Gov.uk.

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