AArgh! Esa, savings and partner

Discussion in 'benefits and housing' started by pug, Jul 24, 2018.

  1. pug

    pug Well-Known Member

    My partner wants to move in with me but she has ME and at the moment claims ESA and PIP. When she moves in it looks to me like she will still be able to claim the PIP but not the ESA because once my savings are taken into account with hers then we're over the threshold, the PIP amounts to about £55 a week, the ESA is a lot more so losing it all is going to be a big blow.
    My income is really low so I'll be barely able to cover our bills and living expenses but no more than that.
    She thinks that I could claim Carers Allowance, I can't say that I'm keen but I'll go with it if it's the only option and just give it all to her.
    This all really falls hardest on her financially and from that point of view she'd be better off staying put, blocking up a council house and claiming all the ESA and HB.
    I feel really concerned about her having so little money coming in when she moves, what she gets at the moment enables her to be independent, do those things that she can do and not feel stressed about her finances.
     
  2. baldrick

    baldrick ooooh timewarp

    It's not ideal but you're thinking sensibly.

    If she moved in and you ever split up, that would put her into a very precarious position. If she has a council property, I wouldn't give that up for anything if I was her. Being ill and having to deal with finding a private landlord that takes benefits - that would be a complete nightmare.
     
  3. clicker

    clicker nanook rubs it....

    pug you can only claim carers allowance if you work/study less than 21 hours a week and there is also an amount you have to earn less than to qualify. Double check the figures as I may be out of date, but the hours and wages limit are both low. I have no idea about universal credit or working tax credits...but someone else will . They may or may not also have capital limits? Good luck it's a notorious minefield and less than generous . Maybe the CAB could help?
     
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  4. High Voltage

    High Voltage In the top 97% of Urban's most interesting posters

    These might be the relevant points
    MY BOLD

    and the full shizzle is available here
     
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  5. pug

    pug Well-Known Member

    This is the thing really it seems very unlikely that that'd happen but it's an undeniable possiblity.
     
  6. pug

    pug Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that, it's buggered then I didn't realise my income came into it and especially at such a low level. I'll just have to earn more somehow.
     
  7. Puddy_Tat

    Puddy_Tat lumpen proletaricat

    blargh

    various cans of worms here

    Is the ESA the sort that's income related or NI contributions based or what?

    Certain forms of ESA are (like job seekers) contributions based (and therefore partner's income / savings are irrelevant) for a year then go income related / means tested. I think in some circumstances (maybe 'support group' but I am very out of touch with it all) continue on non means tested basis indefinitely, but suggest seeking advice from someone more up to date with it all than I am.

    If you move in together (either to her place or yours) then you would be treated as 'a couple' and yes, your income / savings would also be taken in to account for any means tested benefits. Housing benefit / council tax benefit are not 'all or nothing' so you might still get something if you were renting together - may be worth a play with the benefits calculator (independent of DWP etc and it's anonymous but you will need info on both your incomes etc) here

    (apologies if that's stating the obvious, but some people do think HB is all or nothing / that it's only there for people who are 'on benefits' - if you're on a low income you can claim if you're working. although this is getting rolled in to universal clusterfuck credit along with tax credits.)

    I can see the difficulty with the council tenancy. If there wasn't a deliberately created artificial housing shortage, then it wouldn't be a problem if she gave up the tenancy and moved in with you as even if things did go wrong at some point in the future, there would be a chance of her getting somewhere else. In practice getting somewhere else council / housing association (especially if she needs somewhere that's ground floor / adapted - you didn't say and it's none of my business ) isn't easy. The whole decision to move in with partner can be quite a big step in emotional terms without this layer of crap.

    Could you move in to her place instead? (I don't know personal circumstances and again none of my business) - I think that after a while you'd be eligible to become joint tenants.

    There is a risk that if you're round her place a lot (or vice versa) then some twunt is going to report her / you to the DWP / council / both. I am out of touch on what the rules are for 'cohabitation' - the occasional visit is one thing, but anything too regular might cause grief. Others here are probably more up to date than I am.

    Likewise (I'm sure you weren't thinking about it but just to mention) the sort of sub-letting where a council tenant rents their place out and goes to live somewhere else is highly frowned upon and is treated as something approaching fraud by the courts. There was rumblings a year or two back about making this a criminal offence (don't think it got as far as statute book - government seem to have been a bit busy with other things for the last year or two)

    best of luck to you both.
     
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  8. scifisam

    scifisam feck! arse! girls! drink!

    If she's in the support group and she's on contributions-based ESA then she won't lose it because of your income. However it sounds like she's on the lower rate of PIP, which tends to mean being in WRAG. It doesn't always, of course. Any ESA letter will state what type she's on. Also benefit rules might change in the future, so it's not something to rely on.

    If you also have a lowish income then you might be eligible, as a couple where one is disabled, for housing benefit or council tax benefit. Different councils have different thresholds for this but it's worth checking out. You would probably also be able to claim the warm home discount for electricity, and possibly something towards water, but those are tiny amounts, a couple of hundred quid a year.

    If her moving in with you means giving up a social housing tenancy then TBH I'd say it's a bad idea.
     
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  9. pug

    pug Well-Known Member

    Cheers Puddy_Tat and scifisam,
    she's in the support group but all of the esa is means tested.
    I can't move in with her, I'd have to rent my place out, there's no way I could do that and then live in a council place as I just don't feel that it's right.
    There is the distinct possibility that one of her neighbours might report her as they're toxic and have already given her grief about having two bedrooms.
    I guess I'm just feeling a bit WTF about this situation, granted I expected her benefits to be reduced but not by this much, another £50 a week would make all the difference. As it goes I guess we'll just have to suck it up and count ourselves lucky that she gets the PIP, there's plenty of people worse off in the system and by comparison we're actually pretty fortunate.
     
  10. baldrick

    baldrick ooooh timewarp

    I see what you're saying but I do think you have to take the sentimentality out of it, as harsh as that sounds. If she gives up her council place, she will very likely not get another. She will not be entitled to any equity from your place if you split up. I know I sound all doom and gloom but I would really urge you to think about what would be best for her in the future. Everything is rosy now but if her disability gets worse, if something happens to your house, if the government get even harsher on people on benefits (very likely) that will leave her in the shit and dependent on you and that is a very uncomfortable place for a woman to be. If you're that determined you won't split up, then get married and that gives her some financial protection. You're asking her to give up a lot here, I think. But that's just my (cynical) view.
     
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  11. Puddy_Tat

    Puddy_Tat lumpen proletaricat

    i'm inclined to agree - not quite sure where you would stand from a legal (rather than moral) point of view here. think you would certainly not get joint tenancy - and possibility (although i'm not at all sure) that her tenancy would be at risk.

    As I'm 'not the marrying kind' in any way, I'm not entirely clear on these things. i think there are some circumstances where an ex partner (even if not legally married) can claim something (a friend was on the receiving end of this after her partner buggered off to shack up with what had been one of her best friends)

    advicenow has some info on living together and the legal position of 'common law' couples - broadly speaking the state doesn't recognise such couples except when it suits them (mainly in terms of benefits)
     
    pug likes this.
  12. AnnO'Neemus

    AnnO'Neemus Is so vanilla

    This is actually probably your best option. If she gives up her social housing tenancy to move in with you and if it doesn't work out at some point in the future, she's very, very unlikely to ever get another social housing tenancy.

    So you're expecting her to sacrifice her long-term stability in terms of affordable housing for the sake of your own misguided principles.

    If she moves into yours, she'll retain entitlement to PIP as it's not means tested. But she will lose means tested ESA. You probably won't be able to claim Carer's Allowance, because of the criteria (and it's a pittance anyway). Like you say, you'll probably have to find a way to increase your income to make up for her losing hers.

    Worst case scenario here if it doesn't work out is that she has lost her social housing tenancy and potentially ends up homeless as it's increasingly difficult to find private sector housing that accepts people on benefits. Or she ends up finding somewhere in the private sector but she has no security of tenure whatsoever. I don't know about you, but I have numerous friends renting in the private sector whose landlords have given them notice to quit, sometimes after as little as year, sometimes after a decade or so. Sometimes the landlords are selling up, sometimes they want to put the rent up to a level my friends can't afford, sometimes they want to do the place up a bit and want to hike the rent up massively. A couple I know have a six-year-old daughter who's already had four different homes in her short life because of the vagaries of living in private sector accommodation. So you're potentially condemning your girlfriend to a life of housing insecurity if it doesn't work out.

    But you're all right because you've still got your home and you can feel smug that you haven't had to compromise your principles and qualms about living in social housing. You'll still be okay, but she'll be totally screwed.

    The alternative would be if you move in with her. If you to try to do it under the radar with her busybody neighbours, you're definitely going to come unstuck.

    But what's wrong with doing it above board and her declaring a change in circumstances and telling the DWP/council tax department that you've moved in with her? You do know that social housing isn't just for single people on benefits don't you? People are allowed to have partners and allowed to work and pay rents with their earnings.

    Yes, she would still lose her ESA and retain PIP. Universal Credit/housing benefit and council tax benefit? Whether your income took the household over the threshold, or whether you were still entitled to something towards the rent/council tax would depend on your earnings and also any income you received from renting your place out.

    It sounds as though you don't have a large income if you say you'd have to find a way to increase your income to make up for her losing ESA.

    So you might potentially be entitled to some help.

    A lot of it would depend on what happened to your flat. If you rented it out, would the income just about cover the costs of your mortgage and other expenses? Or would you be left with more? You said you'd need to increase your income to help make up the shortfall, and so this might be a way to do that.

    I'd advise you to check with CAB or a law centre's welfare rights team. Or depending on her disability, a related charity might have welfare rights advice workers, for example Mind near me offers drop-in sessions and also has case workers for ongoing assistance.

    They'd be able to calculate the situation to give you an idea what would happen to your income/benefits in both situations, to give you information on which to base your decision.

    (Another way to boost your income to make up for her losing ESA might be for you to temporarily rent out her second bedroom via AirBnb or a Facebook group like Crew Rooms or via theatre digs lists (depending on where you are and how rentable it is).) Again, that wouldn't affect her PIP income (but would impact entitlement to other benefits).

    Worst case scenario here if it doesn't work out is you leave and move back into your place, she still has a home and security of tenure.

    If you move in with her and it works out and you make it more permanent, get married/civil partnership, she could still give up the tenancy in future.

    But it's a hell of a risk for her, to move in with you in case it doesn't work out and then she's stuffed.

    I think you're unreasonable and selfish to expect her to give up security of tenure on a social housing property because of your principles when in the worst case scenario of you splitting up you'd still be okay but she'd be fucked.
     
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  13. Puddy_Tat

    Puddy_Tat lumpen proletaricat

    I was reading the OP's post as that they don't think it would be morally right for them to rent out their place / become a landlord while living in social housing.

    Yes of course social tenants are allowed to work and pay the rent without housing benefit (despite the tories' efforts to make us all think that council housing is 'subsidised' and only occupied by 'scroungers') - but...

    you certainly wouldn't get a new social tenancy if you already own a place. I'm not quite sure whether having a partner who owns a place (and is renting it out) move in with you is going to put the tenancy at risk. I think that specialised (and local) advice is needed here - it may depend on the exact wording of the local tenancy agreement.

    This example (Camden) seems fairly blase about a new partner of an existing tenant moving in - it says you do need to tell (but not get permission from) the housing department so it may not be an issue.

    Housing / council tax benefit would of course be separate - a change of circumstances / new claim would be needed - and would be assessed as a couple.

    I had thought that if you owned a place and then rented somewhere else, then you would not get housing benefit at all (unless there was a darn good reason like the place was condemned - or you'd had to move out due to domestic violence or similar.)

    In trying to find something about this, it looks as though it is possible, but the place being rented out looks like it's considered to be 'capital' as well as the chance of income being taken in to account (see this - manchester) - i'm not clear from this whether the total value of the place would be treated as capital (in which case chances are it will be over the £ 16K threshold) or whether just the equity (which may be less) would be, likewise not clear whether any rent would be considered income, or whether income would be considered to be rent minus mortgage payments and other costs.

    Again, I think specialised advice is called for.
     
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  14. AnnO'Neemus

    AnnO'Neemus Is so vanilla

    Yes, I understood that much. The OP's qualms about the morality of it is all very well and good, and commendable on one level, but it's actually the girlfriend who will end up royally fucked over by him sticking to his principles if it doesn't work out.

    So I understand pug has moral objections and what they relate to, and why, but he isn't going to be taking a social housing tenancy while owning a property, he's simply going to be living with an existing social housing tenant.

    He wouldn't even be able to be a joint tenant, at least not straight away, if at all. He might be able to become a joint tenant after a year or so depending on what the rules are, or might be precluded from joining the tenancy on the basis of being a homeowner elsewhere. (My guess is that being precluded would be most likely.) So OP is not going to be a social housing tenant while simultaneously being a homeowner. They're going to be someone who happens to live with someone who happens to be a social housing tenant. And there's always the option of the girlfriend giving up the tenancy in future if the relationship persists/if they put it on a more permanent/legal footing that would give her more security.

    But if the tenancy is given up now, there's no going back. For her at least.

    So this isn't - or shouldn't be, to my mind - about absolving the OP of any guilt he might feel about living in social housing despite his principles. It's more about whether or not it's reasonable to insist that the only viable option for living together is if she gives up her social housing tenancy (low rents and security of tenure are like gold dust) because he's got moral objections to the reverse scenario (which is a very privileged position to be in).

    But he's not the one who's going to pay the price of him sticking to his principles if it all goes pear-shaped, she is. So I stand by my assertion that it's unreasonable and selfish for pug to expect his girlfriend to give up her social housing tenancy to move in with him.

    As for any claim for housing benefit, whether his owning another property would make them ineligible or whether they would simply take it into account as income I don't know. But given social housing rents are relatively low, hopefully her losing housing benefit would be counteracted by him the wage earner moving in and so paying the rent hopefully wouldn't be a problem? But I only gleaned hints about income and financial situation from references to her losing ESA and he'd need to increase his earnings, so it sounded like their financial situation might be very precarious or they might be able to just about get by, but I don't know what their exact situation is or what entitlement they might have, if any, to benefits.

    So as for your point that specialist advice is called for, that's precisely why I suggested they seek advice - from a CAB or a law centre or welfare rights advisers at a charity like Mind or if charities relating to her disabilities have similar advice workers - as to the impact of the different options regarding their living arrangements.

    I think the most reasonable thing (depending on the impact on finances/benefits etc) would be for him to move in with her at least for a year or two. And then if it's all still going well and he still feels icky about living in social housing, then she could consider giving up the tenancy. But her losing stability and security and potentially being left with nothing while he would still have a home is not on, in my opinion.
     
  15. scifisam

    scifisam feck! arse! girls! drink!

    I don't think there'd be anything immoral about it. It's not like you'd be moving in purely in order to make a profit - you might not even make a profit, overall, after her losing her benefits. It also wouldn't be illegal or against her tenancy agreement.
     
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  16. pug

    pug Well-Known Member

    I have explained all of this to her some time ago, it's not like i'm at all unaware of it but if anything I'm far more concerned about it than her. She's dead set on the idea of moving in here with me, doesn't give two shits for her tenancy or the precarious situation she might find herself in and when I told her about this idea of me moving there she said "NO".

    So I'm expecting her to do this, condeming her to that, smug, inclined to do things under the radar, think that social housing is just for people on benefits, unreasonable and selfish.

    Privileged, unreasonable, selfish. Oh and I have no idea what it's like to live in private rented places.

    It's all true true true, you must be a psychic.
     

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