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.