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Newsletters: August 2017

August2017Newsletter

Welcome to this month's newsletter - bringing you right up to date with useful benefit information.

In this issue find out more about:

  • Important Upper Tier Tribunal- it is unlawful to refuse theright of appeal when a late MR request is not accepted.
  • Open training courses:Basic Benefits, PIP for Young People in Supported Housing, Digital UC - just £95+vat per delegate.
  • Key Digital UC problems- make sure your customers don't lose out!
  • Loss of the Family Premium in HB- ensure your HB offices are correctly following guidance!
  • Digital UC - Lettings Flowchart- have you see our new UC flowchart: essential if working in a Digital area.
  • Training courses- book in-house for your staff for just £845+vat.

    "Excellent trainer, very relevant and flagged up some strategic issues. I never thought I'd say I enjoyed a Welfare Benefits training session - but I really did!In fact we'd like to make it an annual event." Keniston HA
As well as:
  • Your chance toWIN £50for your localFOOD BANKand chocolates for you!
  • This month'sreally usefulstandard letter.
  • This month'sreally useful tool!


Upper Tribunal Decision

In October 2013 the procedures for challenging DWP decisions changed. The changes introduced the formal step of 'Mandatory Reconsideration' into the process: Where a claimant wishesto challenge a DWP decision, their first step must be to request a Mandatory Reconsideration (MR).

Since the changes were introduced, the DWP had held that without a MR decision, the claimant hadno right to to take their case toan independent tribunal, ie. no right of appeal. So, where the claimant had made a late request for a MR and this late request was refused - ie no MR decision had been made -the claimant had no right of appeal.

But a new decision by a panel of three Upper Tribunal judges has ruled that the DWP's stance was unlawful and that a claimant does have the right to go to appeal even if a late MR request is refused.

The panel of three judges unanimously decided that the lack of access to an independent tribunal in these situations is a breach of a claimant'srights under Article 6 of the Human Rights Act ie the right of access to an independent and impartial tribunal in the determination of one's civil rights.

The correct position, they felt, was that where a claimant makes a MR request at any time within 13 months of the original decision, they will, if the DWP refuse to consider their late request, have the right to take their case to appeal ie to an independenttribunal. The judges felt that not to allow this right would improperly make the DWP the 'gateway to the independent tribunal system'.

The cases, supported by CPAG, were of two women both with serious health problems who were refused ESA and made late MR requests to challenge the refusal decisions. The DWP decided that neither of them met the criteria for a late MR being accepted and therefore they were unable to pursue their case to appeal.

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) -click here.

NOTE: This outcome does not just apply in ESA cases but for all DWP benefits.

If you have a claimant whose MR request was made late ie outside the calendar month time limit - and the decision they wish to challenge is less than 13 months ago - they can now go on to request a late appeal of that decision and cannot be refused on the grounds that they have no MR decision.

For more information on challenging:
ESA decisions -click here.
PIP decisions -click here.
UC decisions -click here.
JSA sanctions -click here.

Note different rules apply to challenging HB decisions -click here.

Open Training Course - get booked on!

Introduction to WelfareBenefits
Thursday12th October 2017
Exeter - Cornerstone Housing

9.30am - 4.30pm

Click herefor more details

PIP for Young People in Supported Housing
Wednesday 18th October 2017
Leeds - Marriott Hotel
9.30am - 4.30pm


Click herefor more details


Digital Universal Credit - the Essentials
Wednesday 18th October 2017
Plymouth Community Homes
9.30am - 4.30pm

Click herefor more details


Book a place on one of these courses for just £95+vat per delegate
emailinfo@housingsystems.co.uk


WE ARE CURRENTLY LOOKING FOR VENUES FOR OUR NEXT ROUND OF OPEN TRAINING SESSIONS -IF YOU CAN HELP OUT, PLEASE LET US KNOW.

Key Digital UC Problems

Make sure your customers
don't lose out!

Below are just a few of the common problems in'Full'/Digital UC Serviceareas to watch out for...


New claim closed as failed to make appointment, or closed straight after failure to attend appointment
A couple with two children living in a social housing property with a rent of £140 a week could miss out on nearly £50 a day if their original claim is closed and they need to make a new one!


We are aware that some UC claimants - particularly in 'Full'/Digital Service areas - have had their new claims terminated or made 'defective' afew days (or in some cases hours) after they missed the deadline for making an appointment or where they have missed (or turned up late for) their new claim interview or identity verification appointment at the Jobcentre.

It is crucial that claimants do everything they are told to do andfrequently check their UC Journal for messages, particularly in the first few days of their claim. There are likely to be a number of tasks that they will need to complete - with short deadlines. If they fail to complete them within the deadline then their claim could be seen as defective and cancelled - meaning having to make another new claim and so losing out ondaysor weeks of UC.

So what are the rules?
We have outlined how we think the rules should work on the relevant pages ofthe website- but in some circumstances it appears thatthe DWP have been following guidance which does not appear to be supported byRegulations, particularly whereverification interviews are concerned. So we are investigating this further and will keep you updated. If you are assisting someone whose new UC claim has been terminated, email us so we can advise on the particular case.


ESA claimants who move onto UC
We are aware of claimants missing out on nearly £1,000 because the DWP are not transferring over their ESA component totheir new claim for UC and insisting the claimant 'starts afresh' with a Work Capability Assessment and three month assessment period.


Where an ESA claimant needs to claim UC (eg. an Income Related ESA claimant who moves into a Digital UC Service area and needs help towards their rent) they should have their work capability decision transferred across to their UC claim.

However, many claimants are not having that decision transferred across meaning thatnot only are they missing out on having the appropriate Element (Limited Capability for Work or Limited Capability for Work Related Activity)included from the start of their UC claim,but that they areunnecessarilybeing referred for a new Work Capability Assessment and having to 'serve' the three month 'relevant period'. This is incorrect because they have already had their capability for work assessed under their ESA claim and the UC Regulations state that the decision should be transferred across.

The DWP is able to review a claimant's work capability at any time - so they may well refer the claimant for a WCA -but the claimant should still have the correct Element included in their award and be put in the correct conditionality group while being reviewed - ie it is a review the DWP should be conducting, nottreating it as a new request to be found unfit for work.

More informationhere.


Being told UC is the only option
Many claimants are worse off on UC - some up to £95a week worse off - so these claimants may be best not claiming UC yet ifthey don't really need to.

Some people could be better off if they can avoid UC for as long as possible. The DWP (and other agencies) sometimes advise people that they have no alternative but to claim UC when that is notthe case.

Claimants can be worse off on UC for many reasons, including: lack of severe disability premium in the UC assessment, lower disabled child element for those childrennot on the high rate care component of DLA, lower standard allowances for some, no earnings disregards for some, different eligibility rules on service charges, higher deduction rates etc,click herefor more information.
(But some claimants can be better off on UC,click herefor more information.)

Here are a few examples of people who may be advised to claim UC when they do have another option - but do bear in mind that each set of circumstances would need careful consideration - so claimants should seek advice!

Some people whose IR-ESA ends when theyare found fit for work and who challenge that decision,would be better off in the longer term if they are able to manage without claiming UC during themandatory reconsideration period. More infohere.

Parents who have been on IS / IB-JSA / IR-ESA,Child Tax Credit and HB who make the move into work. Getting Working Tax Credit when you are already on Child Tax Credit is not counted as a new claim and therefore does not trigger the need to make a UC claim.

Someone may have been getting a small amount of HB whilst working and then finish work. They may have paid sufficient NI contributions to qualify for 'New Style' Contributory JSA (or ESA if unfit for work). 'New Style' Contributory JSA or ESA can be claimed without claiming UC so it is possible to remain on HB and claim 'New Style' CJSA / CESA. More infohere.

Those whose Contributory ESA expires after 365 days and who need to claim Income Related ESA instead can do so if their ESA is not 'New Style' - this is not a new ESA claim and therefore this change alone should not trigger the need to claim UC.

You can find more information on all of the above problem areas - and morehere.

Digital UC & Lettings

have you see our new flowchart?
An essential tool if working in a Full/Digital service area.

Click hereto find out more......
New Training Courses

Dealing with Digital -click here
Full Service UC and Lettings -click here
UC - Taking on the Challenge -click here


Book these courses in-house for just £845+vat.
- that's under £55+vat per delegate!

"Excellent trainer, very relevant and flagged up some strategic issues. I never thought I'd say I enjoyed a Welfare Benefits training session - but I really did!In fact we'd like to make it an annual event."
Keniston HA

Retaining the Family Premium in HB

– ensuring it is not lost after a past period of nil entitlement

One of last year’s welfare reform changes was the removal of theFamily Premiumin Housing Benefit - a loss of up to £11.34a week.

The Family Premium was abolished for all new claims for HB dated on or after 1 May 2016; and existing HB claimants - ie those with a Family Premium included as at 30th April 2016 - retain entitlement to the Family Premium until they are no longer responsible for a child or make a new claim for HB.

We are aware of one HB Office which removed a claimant's Family Premium by requesting the claimant make a new claim for HB whenthey should have applied a‘closed period supersession’. The HB Office in question has now corrected their policy in line with official guidance, however we are highlighting this issue in case there are other local authorities who are adopting a similar policy...

The case through which this error came to light (and which one of our subscribers successfully challenged with our help) was a parent whose income had increased in one week and, for that week, she had no entitlement to Housing Benefit.

As the change in circumstances (increase in income) was actioned after it had happened, this meant there was a ‘closed period supersession’.


HB CircularA6/2009explains ‘closed period supersessions’, and clearly states:
‘A claimant does not need to make a new claim if you discover that there was no entitlement for a fixed period within an award. The award may be superseded for that period and the supersession only replaces the original decision to that extent’.

The HB Office had not referred to A6/2009, but instead relied on older HB circulars to support their policy that any break in entitlement would cause the loss of the Family Premium.

We think the correct approach in this case was to applya 'closed period supersession', meaningthe tenant’s claim was not 'broken' andan overpayment should have beencreated for the week she was not entitled.Therefore, as no new claim was required, there was no loss of the Family Premium.

The HB Office concerned did eventually revise their decision along these lines - meaning that the tenant now receives £11.34more per week HB.



This month's useful
standard letter



With hundreds of useful standard letters on the website it would be surprising if you were aware of all of them.So each month wehighlightone for you.

This month we would like to remind you aboutStandard Letter ND9.


This letter isfor Housing Benefit claimants who have anon-dependant living with them and the non-dependantis off work sick or on maternity leave. The lowest non-dependant deduction should apply in these circumstances:if the deduction is more than £14.80 per week, thenthe claimant can use this letter.

Click herefor more information.


This month's

useful 'tool'



In addition to highlighting one of our standard letters in eachnewsletter- we thought you may find it helpful if we also remind you each month aboutone of the many tools which are at your fingertips too!

So - this time we would like to draw your attention to our

Universal Credit Waiting Days flowcharts.

We haveone for single claimants and anotherfor couples.

The 7 'waiting days' do not apply to all claimants. We are aware of many cases whereclaimants who are not subject to the waiting days miss out on 7 days' worth of Universal Credit because waiting days have incorrectly been applied.

For a single claimant age 25 plus living in a social housing property with a rent of £100 a week this would mean missing out on £173.10 - as well as having to wait an extra week to get paid.

And for a couple with two children witha rent of £140 a week, it would mean missing out on £342.05!


This is because no other benefit can be paid during the waiting days as, although the claimant's UC claim hasn't actually started yet, they are classed as a UC claimant.

One group of claimants whoshould not have the 'waiting days' applied are those who have, in the month before making their UC claim, been on one of the benefits Universal Credit is replacing - Income Support, Income-Related ESA, Income-Based JSA, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit or Housing Benefit. But there are many more groups of claimants who are also excluded.

The flow charts provide a quick and easy way for youto check if your customer is or is not subject to the waiting days.

If your customers are aware that they should not be subject to the waiting days,they should let their work coach know at their new claim interview - and if on the 'Full'/Digital Service also make a journal entry.


You can find the flowcharts onthis page.


Your chance to
win £50for your local food bank

Every month we giveyou the chance towin £50for your local food bank.
Well done to last month's winner - Jofrom Southdown Housing - a £50 cheque is making its way to theTrussell Trust
.

The winner will be selected at random and can nominate a food bank of their choice to receive a £50cheque fromus, and will receive a box of chocolates for themselves.

Just email the answerto the question below to us byFriday 15th Septemberfor your chance to win.


This month’s question is:

What are the criteria for a Universal Credit claimant to qualify for a Carer Element to be included when their award is assessed?

Find your answer starting fromthis page.


email your answer to:info@housingsystems.co.uk

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