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Havering housing benefit applicants face three week wait

PUBLISHED: 17:00 12 February 2018

Pressure on the government to act on empty homes has been mounting in recent years. Photo: PA.

Pressure on the government to act on empty homes has been mounting in recent years. Photo: PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

Havering housing benefit applicants’ waiting time is just below the national average, data shows.

New housing benefit applicants in Havering are having to wait almost three weeks for their claims to be processed, new data has revealed.

Between July and September last year, new claimants waited on average 19 days before their application was completed, according to data from the Department for Work and Pensions.

That’s slightly below the British average of 22 days, which includes weekends.

This waiting time can be worrying for applicants, and the housing charity, Shelter says they can be threatened with eviction and face homelessness.

Over the same period in 2016 applicants had to wait longer with an average delay of 22 days.

According to the figures, the local authority processed 703 new cases over the three months.

In total there are 14,181 housing benefit claimants in Havering.

A spokesman from Havering Council said: “We are pleased that application times are improving for our residents.

“It’s a reflection of the hard work and education of our staff, who are committed to delivering the best service possible, at a time of reduced resources and limited funding.”

Residents are eligible for housing benefit if they rent, are on a low income or other benefits, and if their savings are below £16,000.

The amount you receive differs depending on whether you rent from the council, or privately, your salary and whether you have any spare rooms.

Havering was quicker at dealing with current claimants who had changed their living circumstances.

Those applications took on average 9 days to complete.

Charities have warned that delays in processing benefits can have a serious impact on the applicants’ lives.

A spokeswoman for Turn2us, a charity which helps people in financial hardship gain access to welfare benefits, said: “People who apply for housing benefit or the housing costs element of Universal Credit do so because they need it.

“That is why it is crucial that people receive this help as quickly as possible. It is what stands between them and homelessness.”

The government is currently rolling out Universal Credit across the country, however it had not reached Havering when this data was recorded.

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