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More LHA Headaches!!

Its been one of those days today. I’ve spent a lot of time on the telephone to Housing Benefit offices in three different local authorities, and postponed the call to a fourth till tomorrow. I’m tired, frustrated, and down right angry. And tired of well meaning but largely powerless council staff trying to explain to me how the LHA scheme works-as if I didn’t know already. Oh yes sir, don’t I just know how it works.

The people in gofmint that thought up the LHA scheme and insisted on having LHA paid direct to tenant in all cases, and the civil servants that drew up the guidelines, have a lot to answer for. They just haven’t got a clue about the damage they have caused with their do-gooding ideas.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for empowering people and encouraging them to exercise their rights to this and that and the other. But with rights come responsibilities. The two go hand in hand, like the two halves of a pair of scissors. You can’t have rights without responsibilities. Too often people focus on their rights, conveniently forgetting their responsibilities, and that’s why the LHA is not working. Frankly, by not including any repercussions or sanctions for failure to use the LHA correctly, the gofmint opened the floodgates to fraud. Lets call a spade a spade, okay, and not a digging implement. Accepting LHA and then using it for purposes other than rent is theft, fraud, stealing, robbery…. you get the jist. It is government-sanctioned daylight robbery. But does the gofmint see it that way? Oh no. If that is what this gofmint calls empowering, then I think we are in deep deep trouble here. We already are in trouble anyway.

I do (sometimes) feel for the council staff at the benefit offices. Theirs is not an easy task, and being on the receiving end of the anger and frustration of landlords who have been robbed by tenants, cannot be a good experience. Perhaps the gofmint would be wise to actually conduct a proper survey of the benefit office staff, and hence get another enlightening view to assist with their enquiry into the LHA scheme.

Here endeth my day of chasing LHA payments: (i) Two different councils failed to pay LHA into nominated credit union accounts, even where details were specified fully on application forms, (ii) where tenant is more than 2 months in arrears (including time served), request made 2 weeks ago to pay landlord direct, but council still “investigating with tenant”, and (iii) where benefit suspended.. for unknown reasons.

If I were a drinking person, I’d be downing a few shots of whisky by now. But, I’ll just have to make do with a cup of tea…..

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