I recently attended the Eligibility Course in Manchester, with Audrey and she said that we needed to be getting proof of Child Benefit, and, if we phone Jobcentre Plus for proof of benefit, we should also note down the NINo, in the evidence box, even though it is on the first page of the CW1, which we didn't previously need to get. She said we should check this with our LSC manager and I got this reply:-
"The main thing is that you have as much evidence of financial eligibility and supporting evidence on the file. You may be aware that the LSC is focussing much more on these issues and it is likely that at some point myself or a colleague would review some of your files on site to look for evidence of means and financial eligibility. Therefore the more information you have on the file the better. I would imagine that the ASA trainer has suggested these two pieces of evidence to ensure that these requirements are met."
So, does this mean that a file could be nil assessed on audit because of no proof of child benefit, or not having written down a NINo in the evidence box??
My start point on this is that you cannot have enough proof of income, just not sufficient. If you do not have enough then you are in trouble. It is the most important thing and probably most overlooked.
This has become obsessional for each client. We request the client brings it to the interview in writing and often in a call before the meeting. We ring up the relevant benefit agencies and get the client to sign the proof of income page recording those called and NINO and CB. We attatch the relevent extract from the contractv allowing us to make phone calls. We send out to the benefit authorities for proof of income. We ask the client to provide written proof needed. If we can continue with the case at any level we do if not we show them the door. I used to conduct the interview write it up but did not report it until that proof was received from the client. These were usually wage or self employment details. Often these did not arrive so the time was wasted. So beware.
The problem with proof of income is two fold;
The LSC keep changing their interpretation of the rules and do this retrospectivelly.
The LSc will not give clear direction to simple questions to clarrify what they do require so we can all do our job.
Your question to the local office was simple;
DO WE NEED PROOF OF CHILD BENEFIT AND WRITE NINO ON THE PROOF OF INCOME PAGE WHEN WE RING UP BA??
It is a yes or no answer. Instead you received;
The main thing is that you have as much evidence of financial eligibility and supporting evidence on the file...blah blah blah
'Please tell me yes or no!'
You may be aware that the LSC is focussing much more on these issues.....blah blah blah
'Please just tell me yes or no!'
and it is likely that at some point myself or a colleague would review some of your files on site to look for evidence of means and financial eligibility.....blah blah blah
'EXCUSE ME just tell me yes or no!'
Therefore the more information you have on the file the better....blah blah blah
'HELLO YOOHOO COOHEE ARE YOU LISTENING!!! is it yes or no?'
I would imagine that the ASA trainer has suggested .....blah blah blah
'IS THERE ANYBODY IN?'
these two pieces of evidence....blah blah blah
'Sir Humphrey Its a seceret isn't it and you are not going to tell any one?'
to ensure that these requirements are met......"
The rule must be If proof in doubt don't leave it out.
Post by Patrick Torsney on Jun 19, 2010 8:36:39 GMT
Previously, the LSC were clear that you didn't need proof of child benefit on file, providing evidence of the other/main sources of income was there
The difficulty now is that the LSC will not confirm that this is still their position, CLS Support have asked them but got nowhere
The advice then is that you should try to obtain evidence of CB receipt on file. Whether or not the LSC would nil assess a file which lacked such proof is debatable. I doubt it, you are after all only declaring 'extra' income which is more likely to make the client ineligible not eligible
To nil assess, an auditor would have to take the view that the client may be telling a porky and in fact had more children (ergo more CB) than they were saying and that they had enough children + CB to potentially make them ineligible and that the advisor had acted unreasonably by not making them prove the alternative. In other words, they would have to be a serious hard-ass or have their heads in the clouds to make such a ludicrous decision
If anyone has a file nil assessed on this basis then please let us know and make sure you appeal it
Its not just child benefit as income though, there's the Dependants Allowance that can be deducted for each child - that can have a significant effect on whether a client is below or above the eligibility limit.