When is a spade ever going to be called a spade? Misappropriate of public funds.

by Readers Question

3 years ago

When is a spade ever going to be called a spade? Misappropriate of public funds.

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When is a spade ever going to be called a spade? Misappropriate of public funds.

When a tenant is either partially or fully supported by LHA and they choose to spend those funds on other things (sometimes as ridiculous as holidays or car insurance or even going to the casino); that in my book should be clearly categorised as misappropriation of Public Funds. (and yes, we have experienced all of those things and more!)

These people are effectively at best performing unauthorised borrowing and at worst stealing what isn’t theirs to keep.

They are not only affecting LLs and their finances but also the workload on Housing Departments as evictions escalate, the increasing number of private LLs unwilling to accept LHA tenants, pressurising the Court system etc. Ultimately this culminates in a lengthier eviction and larger debts being borne by LLs.

This ultimately is a form of theft whether it be classed as theft from the public purse or theft from the private LL. We need to stop being so soft when people take deliberate actions to secure money that isn’t theirs and make it a criminally prosecutable offense.

Regards

Andre spade



Comments

Paul Lucke

3 years ago

What is the point of stigmatising as criminals those who haven't learned to cope responsibly with the benefits system? It would only make it harder for them to get or keep job. It would make more sense for the idiots in government who now have all the reports on Universal Credit trials telling them that they need to divert rent benefits at source to the housing provider, be it PRS or Housing Association, to implement just that and stop trying to pretend that it will ever work any other way. It is not fair to the unfortunate benefit tenants to suddenly expect them to become money management experts overnight on what is often a very tight budget. I am not sure I could cope were I in their circumstances particularly if I had several children.

Andre Gysler

3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Paul Lucke" at "03/03/2015 - 14:41":

Paul, you make a fair point and I take on board that some people may be that way, however I do still stand by the fact that I believe it is a BASIC life principle that you shouldn't take what doesn't belong to you.

The other important point is in every case without exception, that we have experienced this as LLs, it has happened well into the contract, usually past the initial term. That means that they have understood the principle and coped with it up until the point when they DECIDED to take someone else's money for their own benefit. That, in my book, is tantamount to theft.

I cited a few examples such as trips to the casino, there were others too such as handmade birthday cakes, trips abroad, booking holidays, had to pay car insurance or for car repairs, buying a new games console and gaming chair plus many more.

I really think it is about time things like mobiles, electronic games, gaming devices, sky TV but to name a few are to be viewed for what they are.......luxuries not necessities or even RIGHTS!

Is this really not having learnt how to cope or simply not giving a stuff because they know that Housing Services will rehouse them somewhere no matter how they behave or what they take?

Yet heaven forbid that we should dare to upset them by calling a spade a spade

Roanch 21

3 years ago

Or how about we start criminalising the local councils for failing to prevent economic crimes. This proposed new law is aimed at HSBC and tax evasion but to me the council is a corporate body and if they pay an alcohol / drug addicted tenant £1000s of pounds for his rent despite being warned that it will get squandered, then they will be failing to prevent an economic crime. Likewise if they were to advise Section 21'd tenants to ignore court orders and wait until bailiffs before leaving.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/02/22/uk-hsbc-tax-politics-idUKKBN0LQ0FJ20150222

Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury and a member of junior coalition partner the Liberal Democrats, said the new offence of corporate failure to prevent economic crime would include aiding or facilitating tax evasion.

Andre Gysler

3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Roanch 21" at "03/03/2015 - 15:21":

Another well made point, perhaps culpability in those circumstances should extend to all parties concerned?

As much as I hate to put a fly in the ointment about your point regarding the Section 21 advice (which would be great); I think it would be difficult to prove. Certainly if other HB teams behave similarly to ours, they will simply wriggle by claiming to have merely pointed out the tenants options in that situation.

brian clement

3 years ago

Housing Benefit law says that "Housing Benefit payments made to the tenant SHOULD be paid to the Landlord". Unfortunately it doesn't say MUST be paid to the Landlord. Therefore if the tenant spends it on himself then he has done nothing wrong and committed no crime. Once again the Landlord gets stiched up.

Andre Gysler

3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "brian clement" at "04/03/2015 - 00:37":

There are several contexts in which the word "should" has subtly but importantly different meanings. "Should" in this case is not meant in the manner of "if you want to" it is meant that that is the purpose of the HB payment, so I disagree. Therefore, I would say that in this case "should" means "it is your duty to".

The clue is in its name Housing Benefit, NOT Casino Benefit or Car Tax Benefit or Mobile Top Up Benefit. So yes, it is still misappropriation of State Funds and Tax Payers money to fund things that were not supposed to be funded with it.

Sorry but I really do need to disagree when you say they have done nothing wrong.

Paul Lucke

3 years ago

Andre, I don't think anyone is disagreeing with you as to whether a feckless tenant is at fault for spending his benefit money on things for which they were obviously not intended -some of the examples you give are quite hair-raising! The politicians have it in their power to eliminate the problem entirely in respect of the basics of rent, council tax and utility supply but they choose not to. According to the published reports many benefits tenants would much prefer it if their lives were made more secure by having these components of UC tapped off at source. I certainly would were I in their circumstances.
Perhaps the solution would be to recover the unpaid rent from the politician's salaries until they too learn to behave responsibly and restore a bit of commonsense to the system. I am not sure that they would vote for that though ...

brian clement

3 years ago

Hello Andre Gysler. I agree with you 100%. However my comment was not my way of thinking. A few years ago I got really annoyed with my tenants spending HB on themselves. To me it seemed like they were stealing public money (and my rent money). I wrote letters to several people including my MP and HB officials. I had reply's about the wording and the Law. In Case Law "should" does not mean "must" and therefore a tenant has done nothing wrong. I couldn't believe it ! So I wrote asking why if this was the case why wasn't Case Law amended to clarify the Law. I was told the Law did not need clarifying as they saw no problem with it in its present state. Obviously none of them have ever rented properties to DSS.

Graham Durkin

3 years ago

I can recall an occasion when we had invited a Senior Benefit Manager to our local Landlords Meeting and the topic was HOUSING BENEFIT. She used the scenario that if a tenant had received H/B and decided to spend it on a new pair of shoes then that was here perogative as the initial contract was between herself and the benefit dept. Yes it was paid to her to pass on to the landlord but she could not enforce her to do so. I then raised a point that H/B is only issued following a completed Housing Application form and a TENANCY AGREEMENT from her prospective new Landlord . the reply i got was YOUR CONTRACT IS WITH THE TENANT NOT THE H/B DEPT. I still maintained it was a three way arrangement where no party could proceed without the others,but it fell on deaf ears .I still maintain like others have said its basic THEFT, as the money was applied for a specific purpose and therfore should be used JUST FOR THAT PURPOSE ONLY

Mark Smith

3 years ago

Some interesting comments here, as an experienced landlord with over 60 properties LHA tenants are or have been my main stay of rental income,(over 90%) due to non paying tenants, damaged property etc ect we have implemented stricter controls on what type of tenant we take. Now the majority of tenants need a fully qualified gaurentor, with these improved systems I am not running at high levels of rent arrears, high levels of damaged property's and going to court every month or so.
Spend time getting the right tenant at the beginning of the tenancy and you'll have a lot less headaches during the tenancy. I know that's not the answer for everyone, but due to HB payments being paid to the tenant, it's what we've needed to do. There is ample demand in our area and we have less vacancies than ever before, obviously as this continues with other landlords it is putting great strain on the local housing authorities. Mark

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