September 2013 Advice to Housing Benefit departments on the Benefit Cap

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The DWP has issued new guidance to local authority housing benefit departments in relation to the national implementation of the benefit cap which started on 15 July 2013 and will be completed by the end of September 2013.


The guidance on how local authorities and the DWP benefit cap team should work together highlights some key processing points including that - Local authorities will receive Automated Transfer to Local Authority Systems (ATLAS) transactions from DWP benefit teams when there is a change to a DWP income-related benefit - i.e. income support, income-related JSA, income-based ESA - which might impact on a housing benefit award amount

On receipt of the ATLAS notification the local authority can re-assess the housing benefit award, but should not use the information to amend the benefit cap - another file informing the local authority of the impact of the change will be sent by the DWP benefit cap team

The DWP benefit cap team can, if necessary, ask a local authority to confirm the make up of a household for housing benefit award purposes

The DWP benefit cap team will also be informed of changes in DWP benefit awards via a daily 'change of circumstance' report produced from the 'Customer Information System' and will re-calculate the cap

When a local authority includes the current housing benefit award in the calculation it could result in a cap not applying, in which case it will send a template to the DWP benefit cap team stating 'cap not applied', detailing the current non-capped housing benefit award and the date from which it is payable

The precise date the cap takes effect will be confirmed by the claimant’s local authority when the benefit cap calculation has been assessed and any adjustment to the housing benefit award made


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