foundation course housing benefit

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Robin64
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foundation course housing benefit

Post by Robin64 » Mon Sep 04, 2017 12:28 pm

I am just starting to make a claim for my daughter who is starting the Bird Foundation next week. If anyone has any advice or tips on this process could they share please. I intend to share on here how to claim and will share any issues I come across. There already have been at the first hurdle! It is made fiendishly difficult so persistence might be necessary I think.

Firstly (although this appears to be some sort of mystery kept under lock and key) as far as I can deduce from reading various websites including the Gov one - a foundation student is entitled to housing benefit even if they live in halls of residence.
https://www.nihe.gov.uk/index/benefits/ ... udents.htm

This says it has been updated this month.
"Students who are not in Higher Education up to a maximum age of 21 years, including 21 year olds who attained that age during the course (change in law from April 2012)"

Foundation courses are not classed as higher education and therefore cannot receive student finance.
Bexley council page says 19 not 21 but this may be able to be challenged if government says 21 (DD is 18 so should be okay on this)

"I live in the Halls of Residence but qualify as one of the exceptions - am I eligible?
Yes, those eligible students living in accommodation owned by the educational establishment can apply."

The difficulties I have encountered so far -
Contacting the council is not easy and you are not allowed an appointment for a new claim so you cannot go and see anyone to help get the form right first time. They have not replied to an email sent a couple of weeks ago.
The website says you can start the claim form and save your progress for 7 days and gives you a number to go back to it. After finally getting through on the phone after 20 mins on hold I have been told this has been recently changed and you now have 30 minutes to go back to the form or all your information is deleted and you must start again. This has not been flagged up on the official council website. The link to the claim form is now down and there is an error message.

I have contacted student services and been given an email for the advice team. I am hoping there is someone on it that is good with accommodation queries. I have asked are halls classed as renting privately? who is officially the landlord? and what the landlord's address is? Not confirmed but have been told to use Uni Of Greenwich and their main address.

Happy days!
I hope this ends up being helpful to anyone on foundation courses - probably most people like us are really stretching to cover the fees so if HB is allowed then a guide to getting it will be a good sticky and I would be happy to do one. Let's see what happens though!!

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Re: foundation course housing benefit

Post by Here we go again » Thu Sep 07, 2017 7:58 am

DD has recently been turned down for housing benefit from Guildford Council. The online form was a nightmare to complete but the response was pretty quick, albeit a no. The letter wasn't very clear about why they had not agreed it but it gave us the right to ask them to reconsider and then appeal if necessary. We have responded and asked them to reconsider because we feel she meets the criteria: under 19, shared accommodation, foundation course so FE not HE , no income, minimal savings etc so will wait to hear. I've heard from a couple of people that it's a bit of a battle to get it so I think you're right Robin64 - persistence is definitely needed. Good luck.

Robin64
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Re: foundation course housing benefit

Post by Robin64 » Thu Sep 07, 2017 5:16 pm

Here we go again wrote:DD has recently been turned down for housing benefit from Guildford Council. The online form was a nightmare to complete but the response was pretty quick, albeit a no. The letter wasn't very clear about why they had not agreed it but it gave us the right to ask them to reconsider and then appeal if necessary. We have responded and asked them to reconsider because we feel she meets the criteria: under 19, shared accommodation, foundation course so FE not HE , no income, minimal savings etc so will wait to hear. I've heard from a couple of people that it's a bit of a battle to get it so I think you're right Robin64 - persistence is definitely needed. Good luck.
Well I haven't made any further progress - tried Turn2us but their benefit calculator does not work for students and they couldn't help.
I have emailed Colchester council in case they will respond as to why they do pay HB to foundation students - hoping someone there will have the magic words. Apart from that I am gathering data for the online form which must be completed in one sitting then will go for it.

Here we go - what did they give as a reason for no? It sounds like your DD does meet the criteria. It really is a pain! I know there have been people on NAPM who managed to get it so I am not giving up yet!

Robin64
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Re: foundation course housing benefit

Post by Robin64 » Thu Sep 07, 2017 5:17 pm

To be honest, I don't think some councils actually know this small exception to students and HB and the student services don't either.

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Re: foundation course housing benefit

Post by Here we go again » Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:06 pm

The letter just said that she was not eligible because she was a student. I had phoned the housing department before we applied and told them the situation and they said then that she was eligible. I know of students from last year's course that did eventually get it so I'm not giving up either. I'll let you know how we get on.

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oscar
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Re: foundation course housing benefit

Post by oscar » Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:13 pm

I think DS application declined 3 times and I battled with the council to get payment. They tried everything to get out of it. Get the college on board. It is their students' best interest to get it .... Good luck

Robin64
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Re: foundation course housing benefit

Post by Robin64 » Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:28 pm

Here we go again wrote:The letter just said that she was not eligible because she was a student. I had phoned the housing department before we applied and told them the situation and they said then that she was eligible. I know of students from last year's course that did eventually get it so I'm not giving up either. I'll let you know how we get on.
oscar wrote:I think DS application declined 3 times and I battled with the council to get payment. They tried everything to get out of it. Get the college on board. It is their students' best interest to get it .... Good luck
Think we will really have to be persistent then! If the rule is they fit into the category to get it then it should be simple. Evolution college website states foundation students can apply for HB and gives a direct link to Colchester council. All the colleges should liaise with the local council and do the same. I have contacted the NUS and I am going to email the DWP and my MP because this should be transparent if it is the law not left to individual parents to fight it out on their own.

Oscar, that is inspiring that you didn't give up. Well done!

dancemom43
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Re: foundation course housing benefit

Post by dancemom43 » Tue Sep 19, 2017 3:08 pm

I must have missed this post been messing about with Bexley council for months now and here is what I have learned:
You have to fill in the on line form to apply - even though most of it does not suit a student living in shared accommodation, so just do your best.
DCs are entitled so keep pushing for it !!
For shared accommodation in the Sidcup area you get £84.27 per week (differs in areas and a grid is on line) They believe you can find accommodation for this and wont pay over as is own choice for a better house etc...
The student cannot have over £16,000 savings
She can work upto 16 hours but this is where we got caught out - any wages over £57.90 per week they deduct about 60% off so you get less housing benefit.
My DD got a job at 16 hours and was only offered around £40 per week HB and when questioned they stated they expect a student to be able to live on the £57.90 and anything above gets contributed towards the rent.
She would have ended up earning about £15 for the extra 8 hours so currently we have stated she will now only work the 8 hours max and not earn more than the £57. This is during holidays too and we have had to produce wage slips and contracts etc..
The department that agrees payments will not take calls either from the public or even the call centre.
The call centre staff do not seem that knowledgeable and all info I have had to find myself on line.
Claims should be agreed within about 6 weeks but ours has now been ongoing for over 3 1/2 months but coming to an end hopefully soon. They are currently paying the lower amount and I have been assured we will get back pay. It is paid fortnightly.
Best to email as that goes to the right department but they take upto 15 days to respond.
Hope this helps but keep in there ladies x

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Re: foundation course housing benefit

Post by kzgirl » Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:01 am

Oh my goodness, reading this thread is exhausting, we thought the audition process was stressful. Good luck to you all. My DD has student finance which is just so easy. It's a good job these students have parents that are fighting for the right outcome.

Robin64
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Re: foundation course housing benefit

Post by Robin64 » Wed Sep 20, 2017 3:37 pm

dancemom43 wrote:I must have missed this post been messing about with Bexley council for months now and here is what I have learned:
You have to fill in the on line form to apply - even though most of it does not suit a student living in shared accommodation, so just do your best.
DCs are entitled so keep pushing for it !!
For shared accommodation in the Sidcup area you get £84.27 per week (differs in areas and a grid is on line) They believe you can find accommodation for this and wont pay over as is own choice for a better house etc...
The student cannot have over £16,000 savings
She can work upto 16 hours but this is where we got caught out - any wages over £57.90 per week they deduct about 60% off so you get less housing benefit.
My DD got a job at 16 hours and was only offered around £40 per week HB and when questioned they stated they expect a student to be able to live on the £57.90 and anything above gets contributed towards the rent.
She would have ended up earning about £15 for the extra 8 hours so currently we have stated she will now only work the 8 hours max and not earn more than the £57. This is during holidays too and we have had to produce wage slips and contracts etc..
The department that agrees payments will not take calls either from the public or even the call centre.
The call centre staff do not seem that knowledgeable and all info I have had to find myself on line.
Claims should be agreed within about 6 weeks but ours has now been ongoing for over 3 1/2 months but coming to an end hopefully soon. They are currently paying the lower amount and I have been assured we will get back pay. It is paid fortnightly.
Best to email as that goes to the right department but they take upto 15 days to respond.
Hope this helps but keep in there ladies x
Dancemom43 that is brilliant info thanks so much. DD is in halls so we have to apply to Greenwich for our HB. The online form is indeed a nightmare and most does not apply but we have faithfully filled it in. I have to take it (or send special delivery) with all original documents to their offices. I did not know that about working. DD hasn't got a job yet but was hoping to find one so I will tell her about your DD. Mine saved up about £1500 over the summer to use for the year so that will be under the limit (is it £16000 or £1600 though which is what I thought?) What you say about them not taking calls etc is so true and ridiculous! They wont make appointments to sort out new claims either!
Thanks for sharing you have heled me be determined!! I am going on Friday to take the claim in (I did not want to trust sending important documents without a receipt from them (assistant from HB office said that was better idea!)

Also I must say I am getting tremendous help from Greenwich Students Services who have even spoken to HB office directly and agree that we should put in a claim.

I am going to PM you about something and thanks again

dancemom43
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Re: foundation course housing benefit

Post by dancemom43 » Wed Sep 20, 2017 4:17 pm

I was told and have seen on line they are allowed £16,000 in savings and its their savings and not parents.
No point in working to earn more than £60 a week as will just take 60% of any extra off you so working for peanuts.

dancemom43
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Re: foundation course housing benefit

Post by dancemom43 » Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:57 am

After over 4 months we have this weekend been told we are entitled to the full £84.27 as she reduced her hours to only earn £60 a week. Wonderful news but she was moved onto the Degree course so we are repaying what we have had but nice to know the hours and hours I spent might help someone else to know they are entitled... Keep pushing and you will get it xx

Robin64
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Re: foundation course housing benefit

Post by Robin64 » Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:55 pm

dancemom43 wrote:After over 4 months we have this weekend been told we are entitled to the full £84.27 as she reduced her hours to only earn £60 a week. Wonderful news but she was moved onto the Degree course so we are repaying what we have had but nice to know the hours and hours I spent might help someone else to know they are entitled... Keep pushing and you will get it xx
Thanks for posting dancemom43. That is really helpful. I am still waiting to hear but they did say it takes quite a long time.

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Re: foundation course housing benefit

Post by Here we go again » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:32 pm

We are still waiting to hear after the first rejection. They've have all the requested paperwork for nearly a month now so will hopefully hear soon.

Robin64
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Re: foundation course housing benefit

Post by Robin64 » Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:54 pm

First rejection letter received. Dated 29th September arrived at DDs today as they had not put the correct address on it with no flat or room number!

Rejected on the grounds she is a student ( sigh! ) Will be appealing of course.

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