Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 

The FAQ's are displayed in this question and answer format e.g.
Can I email you with comments or suggestions for program enhancements ? Yes please - we positively encourage customer feedback. If the programs relied entirely on our own ideas we'd have gone bust long ago !

    ______________________ Application issues ______________________

1 I don't agree with some text on the "WebBenCalc" page.
The exact text of the wbc questions is always a delicate issue, to say the least, and is constantly evolving in the light of user suggestion/input. The program always tries to walk the fine line between simplicity and complexity without compromising accuracy. In particular, debate often rages around the disability questions in Step 4 + the wording of Step 11 (tax credits) and the intro to Step 12 (non-deps). We'll consider any reasonable suggestions, especially in these confoundedly tricky areas ! Meanwhile, if you think the text can be improved - you can easily change it - that's the beauty of the WebBenCalc ! So you can change any of the text to reflect whatever you want it to say by amending the wbc.htm file with an html or text editor - anyone in your IT dept would be able to do it in a few seconds.

2 I don't want any preset figures on the "WebBenCalc" page.
We set the default amounts as a kind of prompt so the program can solicit the minimum amount of useful information. As above, anyone in your IT dept would be able to remove them in a few seconds - that's the beauty of the "WebBenCalc" ! At Step 7 the "WebBenCalc" preselects "30 hours or more" but you will notice that a zero or negligible wages sets it to "under 16". We are not sure how else it could be expressed.

3 What is this LHA (bed)room entitlement calculator in the WebBenCalc zip file ?
Since 2008 we have distributed a free add-on separate mini module web page LHA (bed) room entitlement calculator as a distinct module so it didn't detract from the inherent simplicity of the WebBenCalc or confuse claimants who don't need one. This year we have also included a slightly updated LHA_roomer.htm web page to cater for the 5 room  cap. So if you want to use it then put the 2 little files (LHA_roomer.htm and roocal.js) on your web site with an appropriate link - otherwise ignore them.

4 Why do the Benefits Calculators need to ask about Council Tax bill discounts ?
Only so they can adjust the Alternative Council Tax Benefit (Second Adult Rebate) - if any. Don't succumb to Council Tax confusion - the BenCalcs just want you to input the actual Council Tax bill (after taking off any discounts etc.), they won't adjust that bill - ever.

5 Why does the Quick (Desktop) Benefits Calculator mention test data on screen 1 ? On screen 1 you can click the Big Calculator image to load some test data and "go" ! This will start the program and pre-load some rent, Council Tax and income figures so you don't have to enter any data - useful for testing. But normally you will click the green "traffic sign" button to move through the program

6 Why do Rent Free weeks cause unexpected results on the Benefits Calculators ?
Rent free weeks do affect the calculation [new HB Reg. 81 (was 70)]. For weekly rents (or multiples of), multiply the applicable amounts, income, non-dependant deductions by 52 (or 53 if its a 53 BW year) and ÷ by the number of weeks that aren't free. For other tenancies, multiply the daily rate by 365 (or 366 as appropriate) and ÷ by the number of days that aren't free. This method is unpopular with some folk - but we are only trying to accurately implement the Regs !

7 Why doesn't the "WebBenCalc" auto link between disability and non deps ?
Several customers have requested a disability/non dependant auto link feature whereby deductions don't happen to certain disabled claimants. Be aware that the Desktop calculator pretty much achieves this - but it goes into far more detail. The disability criteria do NOT match the non dep skip criteria and we can't see how to implement an "auto skip" link without inserting extra specific questions - which we are reluctant to do after we have all tried so hard to keep the program lean. Also, at Step 12 the "WebBenCalc" does give an explicit warning about skipping non dep deductions under certain disability conditions.

8 Why does some text in the "WebBenCalc" appear to be so light that is in effect unreadable ?
Some questions in the "WebBenCalc" program are deliberately "greyed out" until they become relevant. For example there is no sense asking "Is there a baby (any child aged under one) in your family ?" if the user has already said there are no children aged under 16. Hopefully this feature makes the "WebBenCalc" easier to use.

9 Why do your tax credit estimates not always accord with the actual awards ?
We can't know exactly what figures or periods HM Revenue and the DWP will use to assess their awards - but our estimate is pretty accurate as a weekly snapshot. Our estimate is there purely as an estimate, as requested by users when the TC scheme was introduced in 2003. Tax Credits only count as claim income if they are actually being paid - and as far as we are aware, all guidance issued to LA's reiterates the point that TC's should be ignored unless they are extant. So a word of caution - credits get added to claim income - strictly speaking you should input actual awards and only use the estimate as an illustration.

    ______________________ Technical issues ______________________

10 How does the "WebBenCalc" rate on Accessibility issues ?
We've done lots of background work on the WebBenCalcs since 2004 to eliminate any Bobby Priority 1 & 2 Accessibility errors. We contend that all wbc versions satisfy the Priority 1 & 2 Accessibility User Checks and the HTML is validated. After all, more than 150 LA customers use the program. For the purists, we now offer 2 "extra plain" wbc flavours (javascript or PHP) - no images and no tables, these flavours are so plain they can seem a tad dull - but they check as valid XHTML 1.0 Strict. And see 12 below for more details on our "so cool" PHP server side versions !

11 What environment do your programs require ?
The Quick (Desktop) Benefits Calculator, NDR Interest Calculator and the Council Tax programs are all MS VB executable files. In order to run them, the only system requirement is for a PC with Windows '95 or higher and the (Windows) system files Msvbvm50.dll and Asycfilt.dll - if they are not already on your PC then install them from our initial release disk. If problems are encountered then do contact us for the INST_DLLs.exe file. For future convenience you may want to create "shortcuts" from your desktop to these programs.
The "WebBenCalc", "House of Benefits" guide to Housing Benefits and the NDR on-line phasing projection simply require a web browser to run. Viewing with MS Internet Explorer 5.5 / Netscape 6.0 / Firefox 1.0 or higher is recommended. We believe they run perfectly well under earlier browser versions but cannot guarantee full functionality for every earlier browser. And, as far as we know, they run quite happily on apache web servers under the Linux operating system.

12 Are there any plans to create a "WebBenCalc" that doesn't rely on client-side technologies?
Yes - we have released 2 PHP flavours of the WebBenCalc, at no extra cost. The calculation is entirely server side but some validation is duplicated on the "client side" for speed. The standard "classic" server side PHP version is similar to our ‘regular’ version in terms of the look and feel - bearing in mind that customers can (and do) modify the look and feel considerably ! And the "Dual" extra plain PHP (server side) WebBenCalc flavour looks similar to the "extra plain" (js) WebBenCalc flavour. Most web hosts offer PHP support. As long as your server supports PHP, then just put your .php files in your web directory and the server will automatically parse them for you. There is no need to compile anything or install any extra tools.

______________________ Admin issues ______________________

13 What are the standard terms of your Licence Agreement ?
Our programs are normally supplied on an unlimited departmental user licence for an inexpensive annual subscription.  We try to keep formalities to a minimum so the annual subscription "contract" runs for 12 months and is renewed on each anniversary for a further 12 months unless you inform us to the contrary (in advance). If cancellation is notified to us after dispatch of the annual invoice, we will require settlement of the final invoice to cover the administrative costs and close the account. The licence includes all maintenance updates, enhancements and support for the standard “vanilla” product as delivered by Otech. Support is specifically excluded for the customer’s own modifications and customisation.

14 How do the programs get distributed ?
When an order is placed, we supply the customer with an initial "master" disk to validate the licence. Subsequent maintenance updates will be distributed via download invitation to the designated contact unless the customer specifies otherwise. These updates will normally be supplied once or twice a year (always Spring and sometimes Autumn). For the WebBenCalc, if legislation causes considerable modification then a complete re-installation will be necessary - but if an update only involves new figures then a block of code and instructions will be supplied for user substitution.

15 How can I place an order for any of your programs ?
No need for any purchasing formalities unless your protocol requires them - your say so by E-Mail or 'phone is certainly sufficient for us. But if you need to send a purchase order, here's some details about us if you need them:-
trade as OTECH LIMITED (a company registered in England and Wales at Companies House No. 2200462 as Ovaltech Ltd). Address is C/O Newstead House, Pelham Road, Nottingham, NG5 1AP. VAT No. 496 4442 11. We started out as Ovaltech Limited, switched to Otech Limited (for various arcane reasons) then reverted back to Ovaltech Limited because we found we preferred that name after all. But we continue to trade as Otech to some extent because so many customers have got that shorter name set up on their BACS systems.

16 How many customers do you have for your programs ?
Our programs are now running in (or at) over 200 Public Authorities and private Housing Associations.....but (unfortunately) in no Public Houses, as far as we are aware.  

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