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The Housing Benefit (General) (Amendment No. 7) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1997

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Citation, commencement and interpretation

1.—(1) These Regulations may be cited as the Housing Benefit (General) (Amendment No. 7) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1997 and shall come into operation on 3rd November 1997.

(2) In these Regulations “the principal Regulations” means the Housing Benefit (General) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1987(1).

(3) The Interpretation Act (Northern Ireland) 1954(2) shall apply to these Regulations as it applies to a Measure of the Assembly.

Amendment of regulation 93 of the principal Regulations

2.  In regulation 93 of the principal Regulations (circumstances in which payment is to be made to a landlord or the Department of the Environment) after paragraph (2) there shall be added the following paragraph—

(3) Where the Executive is not satisfied that the landlord is a fit and proper person to be the recipient of a payment of rent allowance or rate rebate no such payment shall be made direct to him under paragraph (1)..

Amendment of regulation 94 of the principal Regulations

3.  In regulation 94 of the principal Regulations (circumstances in which payment may be made to a landlord or the Department of the Environment)—

(a)in paragraph (1)(3) after “does not apply” there shall be inserted “but subject to paragraph (1B)”;

(b)after paragraph (1A)(4) there shall be inserted the following paragraph—

(1B) In a case where the Executive is not satisfied that the landlord is a fit and proper person to be the recipient of a claimant’s rent allowance or rate rebate, the Executive may either—

(a)not make direct payments to the landlord in accordance with paragraph (1), or

(b)make such payments to the landlord where the Executive is satisfied that it is nonetheless in the best interests of the claimant and his family that the payments be made..

Amendment of regulation 95 of the principal Regulations

4.  In regulation 95 of the principal Regulations (withholding of benefit)—

(a)after paragraph (1) there shall be inserted the following paragraphs—

(1A) The Executive may withhold payment of a rent allowance which it would otherwise make to a landlord in accordance with regulation 93(1) or 94(1), where the Executive has evidence which raises a reasonable doubt as to whether the landlord is a fit and proper person to be the recipient of such payments.

(1B) The Executive may withhold rent allowance payable to a claimant where the question whether payment be made to the landlord under regulation 93 or regulation 94 is for determination by the Executive.;

(b)after paragraph (6) there shall be inserted the following paragraphs—

(6A) In a case to which paragraph (1A) applies, the Executive shall within 14 days of the doubt arising, or such longer period as may be appropriate in the circumstances of the case, satisfy itself as to whether the landlord is a fit and proper person to be the recipient of payments of rent allowance, and—

(a)if it is so satisfied and that regulation 93 or, as the case may be, regulation 94, also continues to be satisfied, pay any payments withheld to which the claimant is entitled to the landlord under regulation 93 or 94 as appropriate, or

(b)if it is so satisfied but the requirements of regulation 93 or, as the case may be regulation 94, are no longer satisfied, or if it is not so satisfied—

(i)pay that amount to the claimant, or

(ii)where these Regulations enable it to do so, make such other arrangements for the payment of that amount as appear appropriate in the circumstances of the case.

(6B) In a case to which paragraph (1B) applies, the Executive shall determine the question arising under regulation 93 or regulation 94 within 14 days of its determination to withhold payment of rent allowance from the claimant or such longer period as may be appropriate in the circumstances of the case, and—

(a)where it determines that payments be made to the landlord in accordance with regulation 93 or, as the case may be, regulation 94, pay those payments withheld to the landlord, or

(b)where it determines that payments shall not be made to the landlord—

(i)pay those payments withheld to the claimant, or

(ii)where these Regulations enable it to do so, make such other arrangements for the payment of the amount withheld as appear appropriate in the circumstances of the case..

Insertion of regulation 96A in the principal Regulations

5.  After regulation 96 of the principal Regulations (payment on death of the person entitled) there shall be inserted the following regulation—

Suspension of Benefit

96A.(1) Payment of housing benefit may be suspended by the appropriate authority making the payment where it appears to the authority that a question has arisen as to whether the conditions of entitlement to housing benefit are fulfilled.

(2) Where payment of housing benefit is suspended in accordance with paragraph (1), the appropriate authority shall require the claimant whose benefit is suspended to furnish such information in connection with that question as may be reasonable in the circumstances, and the claimant shall comply with that requirement within 4 weeks of being required to do so, or within such longer period as the appropriate authority considers reasonable in his case.

(3) Notwithstanding paragraph (2), a claimant shall not be required to supply any information in relation to a payment to which regulation 73(3)(5) (payments from certain funds) applies.

(4) An appropriate authority shall, within 7 days of suspending benefit in accordance with paragraph (1), or as soon as may be reasonably practicable thereafter, notify the claimant of—

(a)its determination to suspend payment of housing benefit, and

(b)its requirements as to the provision of information.

(5) An appropriate authority to whom information is provided in accordance with this regulation may, after considering the information provided, require the claimant to provide such further information as is reasonable in the circumstances of the case, and where it does so, the same requirements and restrictions apply to the information required under this paragraph as applied to the information required under paragraph (2).

(6) Where paragraph (7) applies an appropriate authority shall, within 14 days of the date the last of the information required under this regulation is received or as soon as reasonably practicable thereafter, either—

(a)review the award of housing benefit to the claimant in accordance with regulation 79(1)(6) (review of determinations), or

(b)restore payment of housing benefit to the claimant including any payment which accrued during the period of suspension.

(7) This paragraph applies where—

(a)an appropriate authority requires a claimant to provide information in accordance with this regulation;

(b)that information has been provided, and

(c)the authority does not require further information from him in accordance with paragraph (5).

(8) In a case where a requirement to provide information has not been complied with within 4 weeks of its imposition or such longer period (not exceeding 13 weeks) as the appropriate authority considers appropriate in the circumstances of the particular case, the authority shall review the award of housing benefit and the review shall be treated for the purposes of this Part as if it had been made under regulation 79(1).

(9) For the purposes of paragraph (8) the period of 4 weeks, or such longer period as may be determined by the authority, shall begin on, and including, the day following the day on which the last or only requirement which has not been complied with was imposed.

(10) Where—

(a)payment of a claimant’s housing benefit is suspended;

(b)his benefit period comes to an end whilst the suspension is in force, and

(c)no further claim for housing benefit has been received by the appropriate authority before the end of the benefit period,

the appropriate authority shall invite the claimant to make a further claim for benefit and any claim made within 4 weeks of the end of the benefit period shall have effect immediately after the end of that benefit period.

(11) In this regulation information includes evidence, certificates and documents..

Amendment of Schedule 6 to the principal Regulations

6.  In Part IV of Schedule 6 to the principal Regulations (matters to be included in the notice of determination)—

(a)in paragraph 11 for the words following “notice of determination” to the end of the paragraph there shall be substituted the following—

shall include a statement—

(a)as to the amount of housing benefit which is to be paid direct to the landlord and the date from which it is to be paid, and

(b)informing the landlord of the duty imposed upon him to notify the Executive of—

(i)any change in circumstances which might affect the claimant’s entitlement to housing benefit, or the amount of housing benefit payable in his case, and

(ii)the kind of change of circumstances which is to be notified,

and the notice shall be sent both to the claimant and to the landlord.;

(b)after paragraph 11 there shall be inserted the following paragraph—

11A.  In this Part, “landlord” has the same meaning as in regulation 93 (circumstances in which payment is to be made to a landlord or the Department of the Environment)..

Sealed with the Official Seal of the Department of Health and Social Services for Northern Ireland on

L.S.

John O'Neill

Assistant Secretary

10th October 1997.

The Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland hereby consents to the foregoing Regulations.

Sealed with the Official Seal of the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland on

L.S.

John Ritchie

Assistant Secretary

10th October 1997.

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