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Borough council set to continue housing benefit assistance for war veterans and widows

War veterans and widows of those who gave their lives in service are set to continue receiving assistance from a Stafford Borough Council housing benefit scheme.

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Stafford Borough Council offices

Most incomes are included in assessments for housing benefit entitlement, but Stafford Borough Council has disregarded payments such as war disablement or war widow’s pension for several years.

There have been a number of changes to legislation relating to benefits and military compensation, a report to the council’s cabinet said. This has sparked a review of the scheme and a need to formally adopt it once more, cabinet members heard at their meeting on Tuesday (April 9).

Councillor Ralph Cooke, cabinet member for resources, said: “The purpose of this report is to review the scheme, which enables payments under military compensation schemes to be disregarded when assessing a claimant’s income for housing benefit purposes.

"The council has disregarded war pensions and war widows’ pensions for many years to increase the help that affected veterans get with their rent and council tax and we intend to continue to do so.

“A recent audit of our benefit subsidy claim highlighted the fact that the council resolution confirming this discretionary spend needs to be refreshed. This report is that refreshment and does not change the level of Housing Benefit that is paid in any way – the status quo is maintained.

“The council has signed the Staffordshire Armed Forces Covenant. Continuation of support for our veterans and their widows is consistent with our obligations within that covenant.”

Current housing benefit regulations allow for a standard disregard of £10 per week, but local authorities have a power to modify the scheme to disregard some or all of any prescribed war disablement pension or war widow’s pension, the cabinet report said.

It added: “No government subsidy is paid in respect of the modified schemes and the council meets the cost of the resulting additional Housing Benefit awards.

“The effect of the report is to maintain the current level of spending of around £14,000 per year. Five claimants currently benefit from the modified scheme.”

Fellow cabinet members backed the continuation of the assistance and recommended it be approved by the full council at its next meeting on Tuesday, April 16.

Councillor Gillian Pardesi said: “I hope we will always be in a position to provide this support to our veterans.”

Councillor Ian Fordham said: “I’m sure we would all agree that the recommendation is very welcome. It demonstrates that continuing support for the veterans and their families and also a continuing commitment to the Staffordshire Covenant.”

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