Direction of David Williams, Chief executive of Portsmouth City Council, under the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Electronic Communications) (Miscellaneous Benefits) Order 2006 and Paragraph 11 of Schedule 7 to the Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements) (England) Regulations 2012.
Portsmouth City Council (“the Authority”) in accordance with:
- paragraph 2 of Schedule 11 to the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006
- Schedule 10 to the Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for state pension credit) Regulations 2006
- Sections 101 – 106A of the Authority’s Council Tax Support Scheme Policy 2015
Hereby makes the following directions:
- An individual who, in accordance with the 2006 and 2012 Regulations makes a claim for housing benefit under the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 and/or makes a claim for support under the Authority’s current council tax support scheme, or gives notice of a change of circumstances, is authorised to do so by an electronic communication, provided that the individual uses the method approved by the Authority in relation to the claim.
- The methods and form set out, at the time of, and for the purposes of, the delivery of such a claim as referred to in paragraph 1, are respectively –
- Electronic applications for housing benefit and/or council tax support provided they are made via the Authority’s official online application form and are received in the Authority’s official benefits computer system
- Electronic changes of circumstances provided they are made via the Authority’s official online application form and are received in the Authority’s official benefits computer system.
- Amendments to claims (i.e. changes to claims prior to the initial decision on an award of benefit) made via a phone, in person or the Authority’s official online application form.
- The person making an electronic claim, amendment or change of circumstances may be asked to sign the electronic document produced using a manual or electronic method.
- To ensure the authenticity of the identity of the sender the electronic communication must include the following:
The claimant’s name and any two of the following:
- The address of the benefit claim
- The claimant’s date of birth
- The claimant’s national insurance number
- The claimant’s benefit claim number
The Authority may accept digital photographic and scanned images of notices, forms, evidence, and information provided by a person where it has been verified by an officer of the Authority or its agent. Where it has not been verified the Authority may request to see the original where its authenticity cannot be corroborated by other means.
The person must keep a copy of any electronic communication, reference number generated, claim, certificate, notice, information, or evidence so that it can be produced where the Authority so requires. Failure to produce the evidence upon reasonable request may be deemed to show that an electronic communication was not successfully made to the Authority.
The Authority’s ‘official computer system’ for the purposes of recording information relating to electronic communications is provided by Civica for the Revenues & Benefits service. The Authority’s integrated document information and workflow system is provided by Northgate Information Systems Ltd and the electronic benefit and council tax support scheme online application form is an in house product created by Portsmouth City Council. These systems are also regarded as ‘official computer systems’ for the purposes of recording information relating to electronic communications.
3. The Authority may require further information or original supporting evidence before the claim for housing benefit and/or council tax support can be assessed or revised. The Authority may verify claims, certificates, notices, information or evidence by using third party systems and sources of information as well as by direct contact with a person using electronic communications or by some other means.
4. Any claim, amendment or notification received that:
a) Does not conform to any of the relevant standards will be invalid
b) Does conform to the above standard but is not accepted by the Authority’s official computer system, is not regarded as having been delivered.
5. This direction may be withdrawn or amended at any time by the issue of a further direction.
Signed by: David Williams, Chief executive
Dated: May 2017