Housing Benefit and the self-employed pensioner

Take care with your self assessment form. You may have say a turnover of 8k and allowable expenses of 6k. Your profit of 2k might be the same as the year before and you pay a similar amount of tax as before (as your state pension plus a small private pension eats up the personal allowance).

You took HMRC's option of stating your allowable expenses as a single figure - mistake - as your local authority will put you through a process similar to the circumlocution office in a Charles Dickens novel. (they call it a benefit review). The initial decision of the Local authority is that your turnover equals earnings and they do not want a simple argument - you need to file a formal appeal. If you had split your expenses into separate items your tax return would show lots of items instead of not entered so much harder for the local authority to ignore them. There might be a secret policy of getting tougher just to save some money. Even if all the appeals were won the authority could still profit because of the delay paying the right benefit.

Don't feel guilty claiming - you paid in when you worked full time and/or you might be an innocent victim of the equitable life collapse. Another option is to close the business and report this change to the local authority. Don't forget to tell friends/family/clients how you were forced to stop work.
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