13th November 2017: First 50 tranche of Trusted Partner / Landlord Portal landlords - more here.
9th November: UC roll out in Northern Ireland: Click here for when UC will be rolled out in your area; postcodes/towns affected are, 15 November, Ballymoney and 13 December 2017 Magherafelt and Coleraine.
3rd November 2017: The Government announce changes to Funeral Payments. Changes include allowing recipients of a Funeral Payment to receive contributions from relatives, friends or charities without it being deducted from the payment, extending the claim period from 3 to 6 months from the date of the funeral and allowing applicants to submit evidence electronically to speed up the processing of claims and get decisions to claimants sooner introducing a shorter application form for children’s funerals. More on the Social Fund, here, on our website and the consultation response can be found here.
31st October 2017: Published today - "Funding Supported Housing - Policy Statement and Consultation" - 3 main groups of funding -
1) A ‘Sheltered Rent’ – for those in sheltered and extra care housing (including working age)from 2020, funded through welfare system, but with the social housing regulator of the Homes and Communities Agency using existing powers to regulate gross eligible rent. (Consultation seeking reviews on the appropriate rent level).
2.) Local Grant Fund – from 2020, for short-term and transitional supported housing (including homeless with support needs, fleeing domestic abuse, drug and alcohol misuse, offenders, young people at risk. Commissioned locally using a new "local planning and oversight regime" and funded by Local Authorities through a ring fenced grant. Removes short term support costs from the welfare system.
3.) Welfare System (Housing Benefit/Universal Credit) – for long-term supported housing – including learning disabilities, mental ill health, physical disabilities, and "highly specialised supported housing". 100% of housing costs (rent inclusive of eligible service charges) will continue to be funded through the welfare system & subject to existing rules.
"The Government will work with the sector to develop and deliver improvements to cost control, quality and outcomes."
27th October 2017: An update on the reforms of the Courts and Tribunals service announced today, with an emphasis on 'online routes to justice'. The update advises that "In tribunals, people appealing social security and child benefit decisions will be able to make their application fully online, track the progress of their case by text, email or online, and, if judged appropriate, take part either in a virtual hearing, or in an online hearing with the judge able to ask questions through rapid messaging, allowing much faster decision-making in a system where delays can bring real hardship". More detail to follow in the months ahead.
26th October 2017: The Prime Minister also announces, in a major policy change, that the LHA cap will not be applied to supported housing or the social rented sector as a whole. More detail is to follow but Mrs May stated yesterday that "I can say today that . . .we will not be applying the local housing allowance cap to supported housing; indeed, we will not be implementing it in the wider social rented sector. The full details will be made available when we publish our response to the consultation.'
26th October 2017: The Prime Minister announces that the government will publish its future model to support and sustain supported housing on Tuesday the 31st of October. A statement on gov.uk can be found here and we will publish more on our website when we have it. Prime Minister May announced yesterday that "we need to ensure that the funding model is right so that all providers of supported housing can access funding effectively. We need to look at issues such as the recent significant increases in service charges, making sure that we are looking at cost control in the sector."
25th October 2017: The Rent to own provider, BrightHouse has been told to pay back £14.8 million pounds to nearly 250,000 customers for lending that was not affordable and for payments that should have been refunded. Customers are advised that they do not need to take action as BrightHouse will write to all affected customers to explain the refund or balance adjustment they will receive. More here.
25th October 2017: DMG Memo 21/17 issued - on ESA and Qualifying Young Persons participating in Relevant Training Schemes. It is a condition of entitlement to ESA(IR) that a claimant is not receiving education. A
claimant who is participating in approved training will be treated as in education - and therefore not entitled to
ESA(IR). These Regs insert a new definition of what a Traineeship is and
ensure that participating in such a scheme does not prevent a claim to ESA(IR) by
virtue of the rules relating to receiving education.
24th October 2017: ADM 25/17 issued by the government - on UC and Qualifying Young Persons Participating in Relevant Training Schemes. The memo seeks to insert a new definition of a relevant training scheme into the UC Regulations and ensure that a qualifying young person (QYP – see ADM E2092 - 93) participating in such a scheme under the ‘Youth Obligation’ is not prevented from claiming UC by virtue of the rules relating to receiving education (see ADM E1013)
18th October 2017: The government announce that Universal Credit customer telephone lines will be the first to become Freephone in November, with remaining DWP customer phone lines becoming free by the end of the year. More details will emerge on our website once we get the detail.
9th October 2017: Letter from Neil Couling to Local Authorities, on the impact of Full service UC on arrears, following recent concerns.
5th October 2017: The Scottish government announce 'Delivery of UC choices for people living in Scotland' - new guidance announced on "Scottish Flexibilities" of payment i.e. a claimant will be able to chose to receive payments twice monthly and housing costs straight to the landlord. Details can be found here.
4th October 2017: David Gauke announces a planned overhaul of the Universal Credit advance payment system, promising that "anyone who needs an advance payment will be offered it up-front. Claimants who want an advance payment will not have to wait six weeks. They will receive this advance within 5 working days." More here. We await the guidance.
And more on advance payments of Universal Credit here.
3rd October 2017: David Gauke announces at the Conservative party conference that the digital roll out of Universal Credit will continue as planned, dispelling rumours that there could be a pause. He announced that "Universal Credit is working. So I can confirm that the rollout will continue, and to the planned timetable. We’re not going to rush things." Full extract of his conference speech can be found here.
2nd October 2017: Government consultation on draft regulations for proposed "Help to Save" scheme whereby UC and WTC claimants can save into a NS&I account and receive a 50% savings top-up (after 2 years'saving) on up to £50 a month savings. Consultation responses welcomed from anyone working with UC or WTC claimants and money advisers, amongst others, deadline October 27th 2017. More info here; technical consultation here
29th September 2017: The DWP announce that from September 29th 2017, Employment and Support Allowance claimants who have limited capability for work related activity (in the support group) and who have a severe, life long disability, illness or health condition and are unlikely ever to be able to move into work should not have to face reassessment on passing their Work Capability Assessment. The DWP policy paper can be found here.
29th September 2017: The DWP announce extended vulnerability criteria for immediate access to hardship payments in DMG Memo 18/17. Those with long term mental health problems or any disorder or disability of the mind or a learning disability or cognitive impairment and those who are homeless - with no accommodation available for their legal occupation should be able to access as soon as their sanction is imposed.
20th September 2017: The Work and Pensions Select Committee are asking for written submissions from stakeholders on the DWP's readiness and preparedness for the scheduled acceleration of digital Universal Credit from this Autumn. The deadline for submissions is 13th October 2017 and more details on the scope of the inquiry can be found here.
20th September 2017: The Scottish government announce a £300m fund to help young carers. The measures include a Young Carer Grant, awarded to 16 to 18 year olds who provide 16 or more hours of care per week to a disabled person but who do not qualify for Carer's Allowance. More here on gov.scot.
19th September - 2017(UKUT) 347 (AAC) - DWP withdraw appeal, conceding where earnings reported by HMRC or employer in "wrong" monthly assessment period, DWP can & should allocate them to the MAP in which the claimant was paid them. More here.
15th September 2017: Expansion of Trusted Partner Pilot and Landlord Portal announced - here.
1st September 2017: Replacement for Support for Mortgage Interest with a new loans scheme to be introduced in Northern Ireland - click here for the regs. The NI government has also provided for the removal of the limited capability for work component in Universal Credit for new claims and changes for single parent UC claims - in line with the rest of the UK.
25th August 2017: A recent FOI response (3176) confirmed that for explicit consent, if a specific individual representative cannot be named then the team name or job role within the organisation can be given instead. More here.
9th August 2017: Two test cases SG v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Appeal CE/766/2016) and R (CJ) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (JR/3861/2016) against the DWP were successful this week. In both cases it was determined that each claimant had their right to appeal to an independent tribunal taken away due to being refused late mandatory reconsideration (no MR = no appeal). More on our website to follow . .
9th August 2017: The Scottish Government announce a 10 point plan to combat funeral poverty with policies to help those who struggle to afford a funeral for their loved ones - announcements include a new Funeral Expense Assistance benefit, by summer 2019. More here.
25th July 2017: The LGA report that the cost of temporary accommodation for homeless families has tripled in recent years. Over 120,000 children are currently living in temporary accommodation, a 10% rise on the previous year. More here.
21st July 2017: Joseph Rowntree report states that on average 100 families per week are being evicted from their homes. Rowntree go on to report that 4 out of 5 evictions using section 21 are in London, and that two thirds of evictions overall are occurring in the capital. Their report can be accessed here.
19th July 2017: The state pension age has been increased to 68 from 2037. This will affect those born between 6th April 1970 and the 5th April 1978. Check your state pension age on Gov.uk, here!
18th July 2017: The government have announced immediate help will be available for Jobseekers who have a mental health problem, or who are homeless, and whose benefits have been sanctioned. Regulations, which come into effect in October 2017, provide for a safety net and immediate access to hardship payments for such claimants. More on gov.uk here (including a statement from Damian Hinds).
17th July 2017: HB Bulletin G7/2017 released today, aiming to provide clarity as to which families can claim UC in a digital UC area. There has clearly been some confusion on this issue and the DWP state ‘Some claimants are being misdirected to claim the wrong benefit depending upon their personal circumstances. This misdirection results in claimants being sent from universal credit to tax credits and housing benefit and, often, back again; resulting in financial difficulties.’ The government hope that G7/2017 provides some clarity.
11th July 2017: New regulations providing for the removal of automatic housing costs for 18-21 year olds in Northern Ireland found here. Much more on this policy can be found on our website, here.
10th July 2017: Changes to Support for Mortgage Interest Scheme confirmed in new regulations. From 6th April 2018, SMI will be replaced by new Loan Scheme, as per Loans for Mortgage Interest Regulations 2017. An explanatory memorandum to the regulations can be found here and there's more on our Help for Homeowners pages here.
7th July 2017: CPIP/387/2017 - New PIP case law on whether the precautionary use of incontinence pads can satisfy regulation 7 and the '50% of days' test. More on our website here!
6th July 2017: DWP analysis shows that 73% of local authorities underspent their DHP allocation in 2016/2017 and that 20% of the funding available to local authorities to spend on mitigating the effects of the benefit cap was spent elsewhere.
30th June 2017: New gov.uk youtube video on Full Service (Digital) Universal Credit.
30th June 2017: The Scottish Government have announced that, for new claims made on or after the 4th October 2017, Universal Credit claimants will be able to have flexible/twice monthly payments and direct payment of the Housing Costs Element straight to their landlord if they make a request for them. The DWP will only be able to refuse if they consider the request unreasonable. This affects claimants in digital areas only. The relevant amendments to the The Universal Credit (Claims and Payments) (Scotland) Regulations 2017 can be found here.
29th June 2017: The Government announce, as part of their deal with the DUP, that the Pensions 'Triple Lock' is to stay, as are universal payments of the Winter Fuel Payment. Government statement on this can be found here.
27th June 2017: The government has set out its proposals on post-Brexit rights for EU citizens living within the United Kingdom. Proposals include - EU citizens with settled status continuing to have access to UK benefits on the same basis as a comparable UK national under domestic law; and EU citizens arriving before a specified date (no earlier than 29 March 2017 and no later than the date of the UK's withdrawal from the EU) who do not have five years’ residence at the time of the UK’s exit but who remain legally in the UK on a pathway to settled status will continue to be able to access the same benefits that they can access now (broadly, equal access for workers/the self-employed and limited access for those not working). Official proposals can be found here.
23 June 2017: HB bulletin U3/2017 - with regard the former residents of Grenfell Tower. U3/2017 confirms that following the Grenfell Tower fire on 13 June 2017, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea area, applications may be received from former residents for assistance towards rent in advance, deposits and other lump sums associated with a housing need such as removal costs or, indeed, the cost of temporary accommodation. However, the benefit cap will continue to apply and former tenants will need to apply for a DHP where appropriate.
22 June 2017: In response to the High Court ruling, the DWP have released guidance U2/2017, in which they hint that they will appeal the decision, and advise that, as the legislation has not changed, Housing Benefit departments should continue to apply the cap to lone parents of children aged under 2.
21 June 2017: The High Court has found that applying the Benefit Cap reduction to lone parents with children aged under 2 to be unlawful. In his decision made today, Mr Justice Collins found the application of the Benefit Cap to cases such as these as causing 'real misery to no good purpose'. A statement by Doughty Street Chambers can be found here.
21st June 2017: The Social Security (Scotland) Bill has been introduced, devolving much more power to the Scottish Government over matters of Social Security. The Bill sets out an over-arching legislative framework for the administration of social security in Scotland, making provision for operational functions such as overpayments, fraud, error, re-determinations and appeals. Holyrood now has power over 11 of the Social Security benefits including PIP, DLA and Carer's Allowance.
20th June 2017: Further roll out of Universal Credit confirmed in ADM memo 18/17 - digital/full UC service being rolled out to more parts of the country including areas of South Yorkshire, the Scottish Highlands and the West Midlands.
19th June 2017: G6/2017 published on gov.uk - HB Bulletin, providing more detail on Real Time Information systems, and Employment and Support Allowance regulations (due into force on 23rd June 2017, which provide an additional earnings disregard where the claimant, or their partner, is in remunerative work of at least 16 hours per week and the person who is working meets the conditions to be awarded either a disability premium, the support component of ESA or the work related activity group).
14th June 2017: 34,000 claims for Universal Credit registered in the month to 11th of May 2017, the lowest number of claims recorded in a month since June 2016. Full report from the DWP can be found here. The total number of UC claims now stands at 530,000.
13th June 2017: Following the General Election last week, the government have announced a new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, David Gauke, who was previously Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
13th June 2017: And following David Gauke's appointment, the government have announced a new Housing and Planning Minister (the 6th in 7 years) - Alok Sharma, formerly of the foreign office.
11th June 2017: 86% of ESA decisions at mandatory reconsideration stage are unsuccessful (in the period December 2016 to April 2017). New DWP statistics show that 7% of mandatory reconsideration requests were in the claimant's favour and that, at tribunal stage, 62% of decisions on an ESA claim were favourable to the claimant. More information found here in gov.uk.
9th June 2017: The Scottish government announces interim extension of Scottish Welfare Fund to help those 18-21 year olds affected by the cuts to Universal Credit Housing Costs Element from April 2017. Letter from Scottish Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman outlining the issues found here.
6th June 2017: The Scottish government have introduced a Universal Credit earnings threshold for free school lunches (and provision for early learning and Childcare in Scotland). From 1st August 2017, a claimant who earns over £610 a month in the monthly assessment period immediately prior to the month of claim will not be eligible. The legislation can be found here.
31st May 2017: Scottish government announces it will implement a higher level of Carers Allowance (to be paid at the same rate as Jobseekers Allowance)from summer 2017, plus a Best Start Grant (replacement to Sure Start Maternity Grant) and a Funeral Expense Payment. Article from Scottish Housing News here.
25th May 2017: Scottish Ombudsman decides HB Offices should be notifying claimants in writing when they make a decision to suspend their benefit - click here for the decision.
19th May 2017: The interest rate used in calculating Support for Mortgage Interest is to reduce from 18th June 2017 from 3.12% to 2.61% - reflecting the reduction in the Bank of England's measure of household mortgage rates. More on this here on gov.uk.
17th May 2017: DWP confirm that, for the first time, there are now over 500,000 UC claimants nationwide - DWP report on Universal Credit stats from April 2016 to April 2017 found here.
16th May 2017: DMG 13/17 and ADM 16/17 released by the DWP to give guidance on ESA and "further evidence of Limited Capability for Work". The DWP have released this guidance in light of an Upper Tribunal Judicial Review decision about whether the current WCA process discriminates against ESA claimants with a mental health condition. The DWP have advised that there should now be an additional requirement for Health Care Professionals to consider requesting further evidence 'when it would be helpful to the assessing HCP or the Decision Maker'.
15th May 2017: Latest areas to be affected by the roll out of digital UC - May to July 2017 - announced and confirmed by the DWP in guidance ADM memo 15/17.
5th May 2017: Latest Benefit Cap figures show that the number of families affected has risen by 230% since 7 November 2016. The statistics, found here in the gov.uk website, show the majority of households affected are single parent households which include a child under the age of 5.
2nd May 2017: DWP issue urgent bulletin U1/2017 which gives Housing Benefit departments guidance on recent developments in the Carmichael bedroom tax case. The DWP advise that 'no action is taken at present' and that they 'will issue further guidance in due course'. More details will follow on our website when they are available.
27th April 2017: Upper Tier tribunal decision determines that initial three months (and as a Jobseeker) counts towards the subsequent acquisition of a permanent right of residence under domestic UK law. Decision found here.
26th April 2017: The DWP annouce further roll-out of full service Universal Credit here. The new Statutory Instrument gives detail on the expansion of UC from 3rd May 2017 to 28th June 2017 with Halifax and Milton Keynes being amongst the towns affected.
21st April 2017: Letter from Damian Green gives detail on transference of power from Westminster to the Scottish Government. By May 2017, the Scottish parliament will be able to legislate on matters from carer's benefits to industrial injuries, plus funeral costs, maternity and disability benefits.
20th April 2017: Housing Benefit circular G4/2017 released today with guidance on the Tax-Free Childcare Scheme which 'allows parents to create and account where they can put aside money to pay for childcare provision', which HMRC will 'top up these payments on an 80/20 basis' up to a certain limit. The 80% parental contribution should be classed as capital for HB purposes.
20th April 2017: Penny Mordaunt, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work announces today support for claimants who lose their motability car on migration to PIP. In a written statement she advises that 'scheme customers can retain their car for up to 8 weeks after their DLA ends, a significant increase from the 3 weeks they are allowed today'......'In addition, customers who are eligible for a transitional support payment will be able to retain their car for up to 6 months, including the processes of reconsideration and appeal. For those that take advantage of this option, the level of transitional support payment will be reduced'. Her full written statement can be found here.
20th April 2017: Further statements on PIP from Ms Mordaunt on rapid re-claims for claimants who have been abroad for more than 13 weeks returned within 12 months of the date they left. Ms Mordaunt expects that this new process will be implemented within the next two months and that eligible claimants will be able to access benefits within two weeks of making the claim.
7th April 2017: DWP release further guidance, this time on ESA/Permitted Work and ESA hardship payments. The guidance, which can be found here, provides further detail on the removal of the 52 week Permitted Work limit and the increased amount of hardship payment (from 60% to 80% of a claimant's prescribed allowance) if the claimant is not in the Work Related Activity Group and is seriously ill or pregnant.
6th April 2017: DWP release guidance for stakeholders around the 'two child limit' on Universal Credit and Tax Credits, found here. The DWP have also released forms for those who require 'Support for a child conceived without your consent', which can be found here and 'support for a child who is informally living with you', found here.
6th April 2017: In line with new guidance on the two child limit for UC/Tax credits - see above - the DWP have also today released new guidance on the two child limit and its impact on Housing Benefit (A5/2017). For the guidance, click here, and for more detailed information on our website please click here.
5th April 2017: ADM 7/2017 gives further guidance on the government's removal of the ESA work related activity component (WRAC) in relation to the changes introduced from 3 April 2017. More on our website can be found here.
5th April 2017: DWP make amendments to HB circular A3/2017 regarding the Bedroom Tax/size criteria to clarify the confusion around physical disability and couples unable to share a bedroom.
30th March 2017: More PIP News - An interpretation of new PIP caselaw whereby an Upper Tribunal found against the DWP's '50% rule' can be found here, on our website.
29th March 2017: House of Lords report on Financial Exclusion, and proposals to tackle the problems, found here. HoL recommend a designated 'Minister for Financial Inclusion' plus the abolition of the 7 day waiting period for UC amongst other measures. We wait for the governments response.
28th March 2017: Damian Hinds, Minister for Employment, responds to the Social Security Select Committee's concerns over the two child policy. His response, in full, can be found here.
27th March 2017: New DWP guidance planned to allow Full Service UC claimants in temporary accommodation to receive HB for housing costs. Guardian article here.
21st March 2017: Damian Hinds, Minister for Employment, verbally confirms that UC claimants in digital areas will be able to upload documentation onto their UC accounts 'by the end of the year'. He is quoted on Hansard as saying "we have made changes to the design of the universal credit digital service so that, before the end of this year, claimants will be able to upload certain evidence to the online system." Full debate on this can be found here.
21st March 2017:
HB bulletin G3/2017
outlining DWP's 'Roll out of Real Time Information Service' to Housing Benefit administrators enabling HB staff to "view earnings and pensions data on your desktop to use as evidence when assessing entitlement to housing benefit. Legal gateways are in place that will allow you to access the data in the following circumstances"
17th March 2017:
Government announce/confirm changes to the amount a carer can earn before their Carer's Allowance is affected and they are treated as gainfully employed. Up from £110 a week to £116 a week as from 10th April 2017. Regulations found here
15th March 2017: DWP confirm that MPs can use implicit consent in full UC digital service areas - statement from DWP's Damian Green found here
15th March 2017: Nearly Legal report on a Judicial Review of Hammersmith and Fulham's refusal to pay a relatively high award of DHP over a long period of time - effectively ignoring their own guidance and DWP guidance. A tenant was refused DHP on the grounds the amount (of £150 a week) was very high but the court held that payments could be made as DWP guidance states 'DHPs can be paid for an indefinite period where an individual requires further assistance with rent and their circumstances were unlikely to change'. Full story on Nearly Legal here.
15th March 2017:
DWP confirm in the Child Tax Credit (Amendment Regulations) 2017 the 'two child' policy. Regulations found here
and more on our website found here
. More on explicit/implicit consent found here
14th March 2017:
DWP confirm the UC taper rate on earnings received by UC claimants reduced from 65% to 63% - in force from the 10th April - meaning that claimants keep more of their earnings. Regulations confirming this found here
The Committee invites written submissions addressing one or more of the following points: 1. How long are people waiting for their Universal Credit claim to be processed, and what impact is this having on them? 2. How are claimants managing with being paid Universal Credit monthly in arrears? The list goes on - if, as an organisation, you want to have your say click here for more information.
30th January 2017:
Confirmation from DWP Minister Lord Henley that the DWP "does not see any reason why Discretionary Housing Payments cannot be paid to Universal Credit claimants who have Managed Payments to their Landlord in place". Brief ministerial statement can be found here
27th January 2017: National Trading Standards
illegal money lending team have a new national website for reporting loan sharks, and educating the public. www.stoploansharks.co.uk.
25th January 2017:
The DWP is planning a new communication tool for social landlords - a landlord portal. At the NHF Welfare Reform Conference Neil Couling's presentation said "
We are developing a Landlord Portal. Features may include the ability • to share information securely with landlords • for Landlords to send info to DWP (e.g. rent verification) • for automated processing of rent verification and direct payments to landlords We are also exploring data share from other partners to identify claimants with complex needs, e.g. care leavers, people in supported housing or people with health conditions. This will mean our Work Coaches can tailor and target support for claimants. "
And Caroline Nokes MP encouraged landlords to "‘… use our Strategic Landlord Forum and partnership managers to feed back issues. This allows us to make continuous improvements to the service. For instance, the Social Landlord Group is helping us in the design of a landlord portal for Universal Credit and has been involved in setting up the Trusted Partner Pilot.’ Full speech here
. " "More on communication issues with DWP here
23rd January 2017: Notification of rent changes - UC.
Landlords can send information about rent changes to the DWP via email - the DWP have said they will specify what format it needs to be in. Associations will get an automated response when an email has been received, and when the changes have been made. They have said the inbox will be continually monitored. However the onus is still on the claimant to report any change - the DWP say they will contact claimants by text as they found they get a better response rate this way. More on rent changes here.
18th January 2017: Time spent on zero hour contracts and working abroad can count as employment for the purposes of the benefit cap grace period.
HB Guidance from the DWP in G1/2017
13th January 2017: 8 week consultation announced on UC payments in Scotland
- found here
. Due to concerns over monthly payments, Scottish ministers are consulting on the possibility of introducing twice monthly payments and managed payments to landlords in both the private and social sector. A chance to have your say!
12th January 2017: DWP Announce reform to Bereavement Benefits.
Caroline Nokes announces changes that will "shift the focus of bereavement benefits from replacing the deceased spouse or civil partner's earnings to helping with the additional and more immediate costs of bereavement'. Lump sum payments are increased, monthly payments decreased, but are now payable for 18 months. DWP's written statement can be found here
with more analysis on our website here
20th December 2016: Consultation launched on how the replacement to the Money Advice Service will work. The plan is to merge the Money Advice Service, The Pension Advice Service and Pension Wise. Find out how to contribute your thoughts here. Closing date 13/02/17.
16th December 2016: LHA rates to be increased by 3% in designated areas of 'high rent increases'. The government have recognised that, quote: 'freezing LHA rates may have very different effects across the country, as rents in some areas might increase at different rates. In view of this, the Government committed to make provision for high rent areas, and will use 30 per cent of the savings from the LHA freeze, to create Targeted Affordability Funding.' New Statutory Instrument found here and more detail on LHA found here on our website.
14th December 2016:
New DWP statistics
show that 41% of UC claimants are in employment and 37,000 claimants were subject to 'in work conditionality' as of 10 November 2016. More on 'in work conditionality' can be found here
9th December 2016: Self employment and the 'gig economy' inquiry launched.
An inquiry launched by the Work and Pensions Committee looking into whether the 'UK welfare system adequately supports the self-employed' calls for written submissions. More detail here
1st December 2016: National Audit Office asks DWP to conduct a wide ranging review of benefit sanctions.
The NAO points out inconsistencies - "...some Work Programme providers referring twice as many people for sanctions as other providers in the same area"; and inefficiencies /waste of public resources - the DWP estimates it spends £30-50 million a year applying sanctions, plus £200 million monitoring the conditions it sets for claimants;the NAO estimates £132 million in sanctions reductions but paid hardship payments of £35 million. Report here.
More on JSA sanctions here;
UC sanctions here.
29th November 2016: Proposed benefit rate increases for 2017/18 published here.
Note these are subject to change. Note the freeze on means-tested benefits continues.
24th November 2016: Changes to rates of tax credits and guardian’s allowance from April 2017.
The only increases will be:
Disabled Child Element of Child Tax Credit increasing to £3175 p.a. (from £3140)
Severely Disabled Child Element of Child Tax Credit increasing to £1290 p.a. (from £1275)
Disabled Worker Element of Working Tax Credit increasing to £3000 p.a. (from £2970)
Severe Disability Element of Working Tax Credit increasing to £1290 p.a. (from £1275).
Guardian's Allowance increases to £16.70 pw (from £16.55)
No changes to Child Benefit. Gov. uk publication here.
23rd November: Autumn statement confirms Universal Credit taper (rate at which UC calculation reduced as earned income rises, to drop from 65% to 63%.
ie if someone earns an extra £1 above their work allowance, their UC award drops by 63p not 65p. Unfortunately the reduced work allowances introduced by George Osborne remain. BBC report here.
Full statement from Philip Hammond here.
22nd November: Your views needed on the future of supported housing!
DWP / DCLG consultation launched yesterday - ideas needed on a new funding model for the supported accommodation sector. Get your voice heard - 12 week deadline. Details here.
22nd November 2016: LHA "Cap" in general lets to be postponed to 2019 and will affect ALL Uc claimants regardless of when they took on their tenancy. Damian Green said the DWP will:
"‘.. bring in the policy for general needs accommodation in the Social Rented Sector in 2019, instead of 2018.
For Housing Benefit it will apply... to tenants who have signed new or re-let tenancies from 1 April 2016 and their social sector rent is higher than the LHA rate...
...For Universal Credit, LHA rates will apply to all new and existing tenants...
'People moved by DWP from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit after April 2019 whose overall benefit entitlement is lower will be protected, in cash terms, under transitional protection arrangements. On reaching state pension age* Universal Credit claimants flowing back on to Housing Benefit with tenancies signed before April 2016 will also be protected. "
(We can assume he meant Pension Credit age?)
More on LHA Cap here
22nd November 2016: "Pay to Stay" will now be voluntary for both council housing and social housing.
16th November 2016: Final Universal Credit Full (Digital) Service roll-out schedule announced here.
More on Full Service here.
16th November 2016: Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Damian Green announces that sanctioned claimants who are homeless and/or have mental health issues will not have to wait 14 days for a hardship payment
(ie same as people with children or long term disablement/sickness.) Speech here.
More on hardship payments here.
16th November 2016: Damian Green promises changes to Bedroom Tax regs "as soon as we practicably can" -
re: wins at Supreme Court - see 9th November below. Parliamentary debate here.
10th November 2016: Inquiry into Benefits Sanctions launched by Public Accounts Committee.
Written evidence to be submitted by 6th December 2016. Click here
for how to do this.
9th November 2016: Supreme Court rules on Bedroom Tax.
2 cases won - the Rutherfords - whose disabled grandson who needs a bedroom for an overnight carer - & Jacqueline Carmichael whose husband has to sleep in a separate bedroom as the hospital bed she requires due to her spina bifida takes up all the space in her bedroom. The Judge ruled that the bedroom tax scheme discriminated against people who needed an additional room as a direct result of their disability.
The judges recognised that there appears to be no reason to distinguish between adult partners who cannot share a bedroom because of disability and children who cannot do so because of disability; or between adults and children in need of an overnight carer.
5 other cases lost - these include where a bedroom is used as a sanctuary or "panic" room; where a bedroom is used to store mobility equipment; and shared care of a disabled son.
Until the regulations are changed however, the only recourse for people in this situation os to request a DHP.
9th November 2016: lower Benefit Cap rollout timetable announced here
7th November 2016: Changes to EEA (Immigration Status) regs set out in Statutory Instrument here.
Regularises various caselaw eg that for derivative right of residence child of working EEA national does not have to have been in education at the time; that reception year counts as education.
7th November 2016: Lower Benefit Cap starts being rolled out (over 12 weeks) from today. Guardian's Allowance and Carers Allowance removed from what counts as "total welfare" for the Benefit Cap
. More on the Benefit Cap under UC here
and under HB here.
21st October 2016: Government consultation on limit to two children in Universal Credit and Child Tax Credit - ends 27th November. Click here.
19th October 2016: New HB Supported Housing Case Law: CH/1286/2016 -
The fact that another provider is obliged to provide care is potentially relevant when assessing what the accommodation provider actually does and the ‘de mininis’ test, but the fact that the claimant had a care package provided separately did not mean that the accommodation provider was not also providing support. Click here
13th October 2016: Families who adopt a child when they already have two or more children will be able to get extra Universal Credit or Child Tax Credit -
we feel this will work by making the adopted 'invisible' when working out how many children the claimant is responsible for. Click here
12th October 2016: Universal Credit added as a qualifying benefit for Healthy Start Scheme food and vitamins from 1st November. Click here
11th October 2016: Government announce those with the most severe health conditions will not need their 'fitness for work' to be reassessed for ESA / UC
- this will apply to those with lifelong, often progressive and incurable conditions that are unlikely to ever to able to move closed to the labour market and into work'. Click here.
6th October 2016: NHF report into the proposed social housing LHA Cap
finds that 26,000 general needs tenants are likely to be affected - seeing on average a £18 a week drop in their HB award - when the LHA Cap takes effect in April 2018. Report here
. More on the proposed LHA Cap here
3rd October 2016: Consultation paper on dramatic changes to Tribunal systems,
including reduced panel members, more online approach and "virtual" hearings. Consultation responses to be in by 27th October. Consultation paper and how to respond here
3rd October 2016: Damian Green says ESA claimants with severe lifelong conditions will not face 6 monthly re-assessments.
Guardian article here
1st October 2016: Increase in national minimum wage in force from 1st October 2016: £6.95 Age 21-24 - £6.95; age 18-20 - £5.55; age under 18 or apprenticeship rate - £3.40
16th September 2016: Damian Green announced that the Social Housing LHA Cap will be deferred for supported housing until 2019/20 - but all tenancies will be affected at that time.
And the Shared Accommodation Rate will not apply to supported housing. Damian Green also said that "At this point (ie 2019/20) we will bring in a new funding model for supported housing"; and that there will be ring-fenced funding to help with costs above the LHA rate - in England this will be devolved "to local authorities to provide additional ‘top up’ funding to providers where necessary"; in Wales and Scotland "an equivalent amount will be provided and it will be for those administrations to decide how best to allocate the funding". The government have yet to decide on the funding model for shorter term supported accommodation ie refuges and hostels. Damian Green's written statement here. More on the Cap in our briefing here, and on this page.
14th September 2016: Need to check for incorrect terminations/ reductions of Tax Credit awards.
Concentrix- company tasked with reducing fraud & error in Tax Credits payments - will not have their contract with HMRC renewed following wrongly closing claimant's awards. Guardian report here
9th September 2016: 2 new employment programmes in Scotland to begin from April 2017.
5th September 2016: From today, the Scottish Parliament assumes powers to:
- Work First Scotland, providing employment support for up to 3,300 disabled people, working with existing DWP providers of Work Choice in Scotland; and
- Work Able Scotland, managed by Skills Development Scotland, seeking to ensure up to 1,500 starts for people with a health condition who want to enter work. More here.
- Create new benefits in devolved areas.
- Top up reserved benefits (such Universal Credit, Tax Credits and Child Benefit).
- Make discretionary payments and assistance.
- Change employment support.
- Make changes to Universal Credit for the costs of rented accommodation.
- Make changes to Universal Credit on the timing of payments and recipients.
From 1st April 2017 they will take on the power to make DHPS; with responsibility for carers and disability benefits, maternity payments and funeral payments) transfering at a later date.
31st August 2016: Guide for housing staff working with refugees and asylum seekers published by the Scottish Refugee Council - here.
More on benefits for people from abroad here.
31st August 2016: Benefit Cap:
newly affected families rolled out over 12 weeks from Nov 14th; those previously affected start from Nov 7th. First will be LAs with least affected. Oct 5th - letters sent to previously affected carers notifying they will be exempted from Nov 7th. More on changes to the Benefit Cap here.
25th August 2016: EEA nationals and benefits: Upper Tribunal Judge clarifies "genuine" in "genuine prospect of employment"
and advised against insisting on "compelling" evidence of a genuine prospect of work in deciding if an unemployed person could retain worker status / jobseeker status. More on EEA nationals & benefits here. Case 2016 UKUT 372 AAC here
19th August 2016: The Upper Tribunal for Scotland Rules of Procedure 2016 regulations have been laid,
and will come into force from 1st December 2016, applying until the powers of the Scottish Civil Justice Council and the Court of Session to make Tribunal Rules come into force. And The Scottish Tribunals (Time Limits) Regulations 2016 set the time limit to appeal to a First or Upper Tier Tribunal as 30 days- extendable if in the interests of justice. More on challenging decisions here (Housing Benefit) and here (Universal Credit.)
17th August 2016: Circular S9/2016 details the "New Burdens Funding"
to be distributed to Local Authorities i September to help with covering the costs of temporary accommodation in Universal Credit Full Service areas.The circular lists the one-off payments, which are based on the extent of temporary accommodation in the LA. Some only get a few pounds (Leicester- £1!).The funds replace the temporary accommodation management fee that disappears in April 2017, as a filler before new funding to be announced by the DCLG. The bulletin does not dictate how this money is to be used (but it is an amount paid to LAs, not a top-up to the Housing Cost element in individual's UC). More on temporary accommodation under UC here.
17th August 2016: DWP issues Circular HB/GB/2016 to remind LAs that Discretionary Housing Payments can be paid to Universal Credit claimants once their UC award is established.
More on DHPs here.
8th August 2016: Reduced Benefit Cap begins November 7th,
starting with the Local Authority areas with the fewest affected claimants. More on Benefit Cap (HB) here and Benefit Cap (UC) here.
4th August 2016: From 22nd June ’16, all APA payments for UC Full Service tenants are being paid via the 3rd Party Creditor payments process.
Details on letter from DWP here.
4th August 2016: Citizens Advice study on Welfare Reform and Working People published here.
Statistics include: 41% of UC claimants now in work; 3 in 5 not confident they could increase their working hours. More on UC for workers here.
28th July 2016: Local Government Association publish a summary of the Housing & Planning Act 2016: here.
20th July 2016: Universal Credit not to be fully rolled out until 2022.
Damian Green written statement here
. Plus two child limit: UC claims from families with > 2 children will be redirected to Tax Credits until Nov 2018; families on UC who have a 3rd child after April 2017 will only receive 2 child elements; removal of UC higher rate child element for 1st child will now only apply where 1st child born post 06/04/17. And migration to UC will now not begin until July 2019. More on UC reforms here.
15th July 2016. New "right to rent" guide published on gov.uk here.
14th July 2016: Evaluation of "Universal Support delivered locally" here.
Main lessons learned:Integrated support model was effective, where a single adviser delivered core personal budgeting and/ or digital support; as was Sequenced support which focused on highest priority needs first (like debt, housing or health) and used each stage to lead on to the next. Passive models – relying on call-backs or claimant action – often led to drop-out. Foundation-level support services in English, reading, writing or numeracy need to be available.The use of common information systems for data sharing between partners should be explored further.
11th July 2016: New statistics on DHP spends by LAS here.
11th July 2016: HB 4 week limit on temporary absence outside Great Britain to begin 28th July 2016.
Amendment regs here. More on HB when absent abroad here.
5th July 2016: Amendments to regulations on sanctions for JSA, ESA and UC –
where claimants have one or more sanctionable offences, and an offence occurs within 14 days of a previous one, the length of that new sanction will last as long as the previous. And where a UC claimant starts work and earns earn an amount equal to at least 16 hours at their appropriate minimum wage for 6 months, their sanction and hardship debts will be written off. More on JSA sanctions here. More on ESA sanctions here. More on UC sanctions here. Amended regulations here.
4th July 2016: Family Resources Survey published by office of National Statistics.
Stats on housing, benefits, pensions, work, carers,disability - for 2014/15 (20,000 households participated).
3rd July 2016: NHF publish their proposals for the future if supported housing: here.
28th June 2016: DWP statistics on unclaimed means-tested benefits in 2014/15 shows £13 billion of available benefits were unclaimed, specifically:
- Income based JSA up to £2.4 billion (50% of those entitled)
- Pension Credit up to £3.1 billion (40% of those entitled)
- HB up to £4.6 billion (20% of those entitled)
- Income Support and Income Related ESA up to £2.9 billion (20% of those entitled)
28th June 2016: DWP statistics for 2014/15 reveal 10% of adults in working families to be living in poverty*,
and a 19% increase in the number of children living in poverty. *Defined as where the income is less than 60 per cent of median income. Before housing costs. Poverty and income inequality in Scotland 2014/2015 reveal an increase in poverty before housing costs at 15%, with child poverty before housing costs at 17%.
27th June 2016: The "emergency brake" on in-work benefits and for restrictions on child benefit for EEA national worker whose children live abroad will no longer happen.
These would have allowed the UK to (a) restrict the child benefit paid to what the parent would have received in their home state and (b) to limit the access of newly arriving EU workers to non-contributory in-work benefits for up to four years from starting work.
A joint statement from top EU officials said "As agreed, the 'New Settlement for the United Kingdom within the EU', reached at the European Council on 18 to 19 February 2016, will now not take effect and ceases to exist. There will be no renegotiation".
13th June 2016: Citizens Advice report shows 4.5 million in England/Wales in insecure work
- over 2.3m work variable shift patterns, 1.1m on temp contracts, 800,000 on zero hour or agency contracts.
11th June 2016: New HB overpayment caselaw - CH/1521/2015 -
claimant tried to tell ALMO he'd left the property (wife, tenant but not claimant) still there. ALMO refused to pass info to HB as he wasn't tenant. Hence overpayment. Judge said could amount to official error. More on official error here.
8th June 2016: New "how to" video from DWP on Universal Credit in digital areas. Here.
More on Digital Service here.
8th June 2016: NFA/ARCH report measuring the impact of Universal Credit - here.
7th June 2016: New "vulnerability guide" for money/debt advisers published by Money Advice Trust - here.
30th May 2016: Nicola Sturgeon's speech on plans for changes to welfare in Scotland here.
30th May 2016: NHF wants your views on the future of supported housing and how it should be funded.
Consultation document and more info here. Responses needed by 16/06/16.
25th May 2016: Further areas in roll out of digital Universal Credit announced - legislation here.
More on the Digital Service here.
24th May 2016: Letters to claimants to be affected by Benefit Cap reductions start being sent today. NHF report here.
More on Benefit Cap here (HB) and here (UC).
20th May 2016: NHF wants your views on the future of supported housing - deadline 16th June. Here.
20th May 2016: report by York University on claimants' experiences of Universal Credit conditionaility and sanctions here.
More on conditionality here.
19th May 2016: Tribunal caseworkers empowered to make some tribunal decisions, with the exception of ‘substantive final decisions’.
Appellants will be able to request a fresh decision by a judge, in writing, within 14 days of the decision. Practice statement here, for a period of six months from 20 April 2016, and may be extended to twelve months following a review.
17th May 2016: Queens Speech here includes plans for new Bill of Rights to 'reform the UK human rights framework';
Lifetime Savings Bill - a savings matching scheme for WTC / UC recipients; Life Chances Strategy to tackle root causes of child poverty; money guidance body to replace the Money Advice Service.
17th May 2016: Re below -Andrew Clarke (DWP Universal Credit Programme Delivery Partners & External Enagagement) has advised that Thursday 26th May is the actual cut-off point,
and further communications will be issued in early June with confirmation of the deployment date and follow up actions for landlords have who have not responded. Letter to landlords here and actions required here.
13th May 2016: IMPORTANT: Social housing providers' deadline today to get their contact details to DWP to ensure to get notifications of new Universal Credit claimants.
Details and guide from NHF here.
26th April 2016: Crisis Points Report by buttle.org.uk reveals areas of worst deprivation and crisis amongst families in children in the UK.
Buttle - a charity working with children and young people in need- hope the report will enable local authorities, charities and voluntary agencies to pinpoint and plan action for those most in need.
26th April 2016: Impact of recent welfare reforms published by Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research
(at Sheffield Hallam Uni) shows working social housing tenants anticipated loss in annual income by 20/21 as £1690 per year (and £1330 average for working & non-working). NHF report here. CRESR report here.
19th April 2016: Delay to 4 week limit to temporary absence outside Great Britain, for Housing Benefit and Pension Credit.
G4/2016 confirms will now begin "summer 2016".
18th April 2016: Scotland Act 2016 published,
including Part 3 on welfare benefits and employment support.
18th April 2016: Scottish Welfare Fund Independent Review body launched 01.04.16.
11th April 2016: From today working Universal Credit claimants will see a reduction in their next UC award due to the reduction / removal of work allowances.
Guardian article on impact here. More on UC work allowances here.
6th April 2016: Max recovery rate of Tax Credit overpayments for those whose household incomes are £20,000+ increases from 25% to 50%.
Report on this and other recent changes to Tax Credit recovery by Low Incomes Tax Reform Group here.
5th April 2016: Council Tax Support, 39 English local authorities increase Council Tax minimum payment under Council Tax Support scheme.
The New Policy Institute calculates 340,000 families will be worse off in 2016/17, with an average annual increase in Council Tax payments of £171.00.
Check on this useful map from CouncilTaxSupport.org to see the % minimum payment for each local authority.
1st April 2016: Bedroom Tax - Upper Tier Tribunal decision,
CH/454/2015 on bedroom tax rules that "a bedroom should be capable of accommodating a single adult bed, a bedside table and somewhere to store clothes (see paragraph 33 of Nelson), as well as providing space for dressing and undressing." For more detail and standard letters click here.
30th March 2016: Government statistics show HB overpayments have increased,
as has overpayment recovery. Many overpayments can be challenged - either as not recoverable or in terms of who should repay them. More here.
24th March 2016: Scotland Act receives Royal Assent.
Increased powers include the ability to set income tax rates and thresholds, control over a significant part of the welfare system and a wide range of other measures. After the May 2016 elections the Scottish government will be able to determine support for the disabled and carers, develop benefits for one off expenses, and short term discretionary payments, and make some changes to jobseekers allowance and universal credit. Act here.
18th March 2016: Flexible Support Fund,
MP Priti Patel confirms that DWP Work Coaches should offer Flexible Support Fund to UC claimants affected by the reduction in the work allowance. Hansard here.
17th March 2016: Welfare Reform Bill becomes Welfare Reform Act - ie receives Royal Assent.
Benefit Cap reduction - UC here; HB here. (phasing in from Autumn 2016)
Freezing Social Security benefit /Tax Credit rates for four more years (April 2017; 2018; 2019; 2020).
Reductions to Universal Credit and Tax Credits for families (from 2017)
Removal of work-related activity component in UC and ESA. (April 2017)
Support for Mortgage Interest becoming a loan and reverting waiting period to original 39 weeks. (April 2018)
Increased conditionality for UC claimants with young children (work focused interviews where child aged one; work focused interviews & work preparation where child aged 2 - after that full conditionality) (From April 2017).
1% rent reduction (April 2016)
Changes to reporting and data publication, including renaming the Child Poverty Commission as the Life Chances Commission 2010.click here.