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Newsletters: February 2017

February 2017Newsletter

Welcome to this month's newsletter packed full of useful benefit information.

In this issue find out more about:

  • Changes to which families can claimUC from April 2017
  • 'Any Day' tenancies- When does Housing Benefit start?
  • Changes to ESA, HB & UC from April-ACT NOW or lose out- No payment of Work Related Activity Component / LCW Element for new claims .
  • Lots changing in April- Quick reminder of the other imminent Welfare Reform changes
  • APA Managed Payments- What can you do when they are paid to the tenant in error?
  • MaximisingDigital Universal Credit claims from the start -Making use of the 'notification of intention to claim' Regulation.
  • Our 'Hot Topic' workshops- get yourself booked on!

As well as:

  • Your chance toWIN £50for your localFOOD BANK, and chocolates for you!
  • This month'sreally usefulstandard letter.
HB Bulletin G2/2017 has confirmed that from 6th April 2017 families with three or more children will not be able to make a new claim for Universal Credit - even in 'Full'/Digital service areas - they will be able to claim legacy benefits instead.

We suspect that this is to make sure that they are not treated any differently from families able to make new claims under the legacy benefit system - where the two child limit rules due to be introduced on 6th April 2017 are more generous.

We are still awaiting the Regulations on how the two child limit will work - for what we know so far pleaseclick here.

To find out more why not book onto one of our 'Welfare Benefits for families:the changing landscape' workshops - find outmore here.


'Any day' tenancies - when does Housing Benefit start?
Most tenancies start on a Monday. This fits in nicely with Housing Benefit, which is a weekly benefit running from Monday to Sunday.

Some landlords use ‘Any Day’ tenancies, which means they can sign up new tenants and hand over the keys on any day of the week and start charging rent from that day.

We have received a number of queries recently relating to what day Housing Benefit can start from if the tenancy does not start on a Monday.

So, if, for example, Jasmine’s tenancy started on Wednesday 22ndFebruary – how would that affect her claim for Housing Benefit?
The answer is – the normal Housing Benefit rules would apply!

New Claim for HB?
If she is making a new claim for Housing Benefit (eg. because she was previously not liable for rent or she is moving from a rented property in a different Local Authority area), in order to ensure Housing Benefit is paid from the first day of her new tenancy, Jasmine must:
  • move in on Wednesday 22ndFebruary
  • and
  • make her claim within the first benefit week – ie by Sunday 26th February.
So, if she makes her HB claim online it should be OK so long as she does this by Sunday 26thFebruary at the latest. However, if she is handing in a paper claim form at the Council Offices, she would have to do this by Friday 24thFebruary at the latest. (Generally, any post received over the weekend is date stamped when opened, ie. with the Monday's date).

If she does not make her claim (or register her intention to claim* and then claim within the time limits) within the first benefit week, she misses out on these special rules.

So, if she makes her claim on Monday 27thFebruary or later, her HB award can only then start from the following Monday – ie if she claims on Monday 27thFebruary, her HB award will not start until Monday 6thMarch!

*If she is very busy with moving she could contact the HB Office by telephone on the Wednesday, Thursday or Friday and register her intention to claim – then as long as she makes her claim properly within one month, her date of claim should be the date she notified the HB Office of her intention to claim.

Also, note that if Jasmine isgetting Income-Based JSA, Income-Related ESA, Income Support, Guarantee Pension Credit, or Universal Credit (ie if living in 'specified accommodation') and she makes a HB claim within one month of her tenancy starting, she can be paid from the day she moves in.

Change of circumstances?
If Jasmine is moving from one rented property to another within the same local authority area and she is already getting Housing Benefit, she will need to report the change in her circumstances within one month. Her HB award in respect of her new tenancy will start on the day she moves in.

HB on two homes
The normal rules say the HB on her former tenancy ends on the day before she moves, but if she had to move before the end of her notice period and this was unavoidable, she may also be able to get help with the notice period on her former tenancy for up to 4 weeks. Dual HB under these rules is only payable from the date she moves into her new tenancy, so if she delays in moving, she will lose out.Click herefor more details.

What about Universal Credit?
Anyone moving into an area which is still under the 'Live' (Gateway) Service would only need to claim Universal Credit if, at the same time, they become a new jobseeker and pass all the gateway conditions.

But, if someone moves into an area with the‘Full’ (digital) Universal Credit Service, they cannot make a new claim for Housing Benefit; they must claim Universal Credit instead. Any other ‘legacy’ benefits would end at the same time.


For anyone who is already on Universal Credit when they move home, it does not matter what day of the week their tenancy started! This is because Universal Credit works on a whole month basis.

If, by the end of theirMonthly Assessment Period, the claimant(s)
  • have become liable for rent at their new tenancy
  • have moved into their new tenancy
  • and
  • reported the change of circumstances to the UC department within the time limits
their Housing Cost Element for the whole of that Monthly Assessment Period will be based on where they are now living.

This means that if someone is moving from non-rented to rented accommodation, they could receive more help towards their rent than they are actually liable for in the first month.

For example – Jasmine’s tenancy started on Wednesday 22ndFebruary; she is on Universal Credit with Monthly Assessment Periods running from 4thto 3rdof every month. So long as she moves into her new tenancy by 3rdMarch and informs the UC department, she will get a Housing Cost Element based on a whole month’s eligible rent factored into the calculation of her entitlement for the Monthly Assessment Period from 4thFebruary to 3rdMarch.

There is no help with rent for the notice period on the old property under UC rules. So, anyone who is moving from one rented property to another will only receive a Housing Cost Element in respect of one property - the property they are living in at the end of that Monthly Assessment Period. For more information on the impact of moving home on UC clickhere.


New 'Landlord Portal' for Universal Credit?

The DWP is planning a new communication tool for social landlords.
At the NHF Welfare Reform ConferenceNeil Couling's presentation indicated this landlord portal may include "the ability to share information securely with landlords, for landlords to send info to DWP, automated processing of rent verification and direct payments to landlords".
We will of course update the Housing Systems website and let you know via our Newsletter as soon as any further details on this are announced.
Watch this space!

More on communication issues with DWPhere.


Changes to
ESA, UC & HB
from April 2017 -
who needs to
ACT NOW?

Prompt action before the rules change could prevent a loss of more than £1500 per year!

We are still awaiting the Regulations that will make these changes, but we have detailed below how the proposed changes could work, given what we currently know about the government's plans.

The key point to note at the present time is - anyone who could or should be making a new claim for Employment and Support Allowance or (if on Universal Credit) a formal request for a Work Capability Assessment could be significantly better off by doing sobefore 3 April 2017!

What's changing?

The government has decided that those who are assessed as unfit for work and put in the Work Related Activity Group (or deemed to have a Limited Capability for Work) should get the same basic allowance as jobseekers.

How does this affect ESA claimants?

Anyone who makes a new claim for ESA (either Contributory or Income-Related) on or after 3 April 2017 and who is put in the Work Related Activity Group will not receive the Work Related Activity Component, which is worth £29.05 per week.

Those who are put in the Support Group will receive the Support Component.

Existing ESA claimants already getting the Work Related Activity Component included in an ESA award will continue to do so until they are found fit for work. Also, those already getting the Support Component in an ESA claim made prior to 3 April 2017 who, on review, are placed in the Work Related Activity Group will be paid the Work Related Activity Component.

How are Housing Benefit awards affected?

For those who get Contributory ESA (and not Income Related ESA) and whose Housing Benefit is calculated, the same rules as for ESA above apply.

So, any HB claimants who make a new claim for ESA on or after 3 April 2017 and who are put in the Work Related Activity Group will not have a Work Related Activity Component added into their HB applicable amount, but those who are put in the Support Group will have a Support Component added to their HB applicable amount.

And for those whose ESA claim was made before 3 April 2017: If they are put in the Work Related Activity Group, or on review they are moved from the Support Group to the Work Related Activity Group they will have the Work Related Activity Component included.

The change will not affect HB awarded to someone while they are getting Income Related ESA because they will be passported onto maximum HB anyway.

(We await the Regulations to see how this change will affect other areas of Housing Benefit, such as the earnings disregard and non-dependant deductions).

What about Universal Credit?

The change affects not only new claimants, but also new requests for a Work Capability Assessment from 3 April 2017.

Existing UC claimants (eg. claiming as jobseekers) who request a Work Capability Assessment on or after 3 April 2017 and who are deemed to have a ‘Limited Capability for Work’ will not receive extra money in respect of the Limited Capability for Work element in their award. But note that their Claimant Commitment and Work Allowance (earnings disregard) (if appropriate) would be in line with their status as having a 'Limited Capability for Work'.

Anyone deemed to have a Limited Capability for Work Related Activity (Support Group) will receive the LCWRA Element.

Existing UC claimants already getting the Limited Capability for Work Element included following a Work Capability Assessment which was requested before 3 April 2017 will continue to receive the element until they are found fit for work.

We are aware of some Universal Credit claimants who have submitted sick notes for several months; although their work search requirements were temporarily switched off, they were not referred for a Work Capability Assessment because they had not specifically requested this. It is best to advise anyone who is likely to be unable to work for a few weeks to make a formal request for a Work Capability Assessment as soon as possible and before 3rd April 2017.

My tenant is claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance but now he has health problems – what should I advise?

If his illness is likely to be short-term, he should speak to his Adviser at the Job Centre so that he can have time off his jobsearching and minimise the risk of a sanction. If the symptoms are likely to last for several weeks, he could make a claim for Employment and Support Allowance. If he is poorly for more than 13 weeks the Job Centre staff may advise him he cannot stay on Jobseeker’s Allowance anyway.
There are a few things to watch out for:
  • If he has had a Work Capability Assessment and been found fit for work at anytime in the past he will need to show that this is a new or significantly worse condition, otherwise he may not be paid any ESA until he is assessed (the ‘repeat claim’ rules).
  • If he lives in an area where the Full (Digital) UC Service has started, his new claim would have to be for Universal Credit; he can still get a Work Capability Assessment done via his UC claim but he may need to consider the impact of monthly payments on UC, making a digital claim and using his online UC account, needing an email address, that ideally he would need an account which is not Post Office Card Account etc.
  • If he is going to claim ESA / UC – do itbefore 3 April!!

My tenant claimed ESA in November 2016, she has just been found fit for work so her ESA has stopped. Is it worth her appealing the decision?

Yes! There are lots of good reasons to challenge a fit for work decision (eg. of those who take their challenge to appeal stage 62% win) – the April 2017 change in the rules has just added another good reason!

If your tenant wins her appeal and is deemed to have a Limited Capability for Work, she will be paid the Work-Related Activity Component - even if her Appeal is heard after 3 April 2017 - because her claim was made before the rules changed.

If she does not challenge the decision within the time limits, she will most likely have to claim benefit as a jobseeker. Then, if in the future, she tries to make another claim for ESA (or if she is on UC by then, if she requests a Work Capability Assessment), she will firstly have to get past the ‘repeat claim’ rules and secondly – if her claim / request is made after 3 April 2017, and she is deemed to have a Limited Capability for Work (ie not Support Group) – she will get no extra money.

My tenant has health problems but is unlikely to get into the Support Group – so why should they bother requesting a Work Capability Assessment after 3 April 2017 if they are not going to get any extra money?

It is still worth doing this – because if the claimant is assessed as having a Limited Capability for Work they will not be expected to be searching for and applying for jobs. Instead, they will just be expected to do some work-related activity, so will be less likely to be sanctioned.

Depending on how the Regulations are changed, having a 'Limited Capability for Work' could also mean a higher earnings disregard is applied, and for couple where one is working and one 'incapacitated' help towards child care costs may be allowed.



Many more
Welfare Reform Changes

in April 2017!

In addition to the changes to ESA, HB and UC regarding the Work Related Activity Component / Limited Capability for Work Element, as detailed above, there are many otherchanges to the benefits rules from April 2017.

We are still awaiting the Regulations for these changes; the information below is based on what we know from announcements made by the government so far. Therefore dates and details may change.
2 child limit
  • In Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit - no extra child element for any child born on or after 6th April 2017 if there are already 2 or more dependent children in the household.
  • For existing Universal Credit claimants - no extra child element for any new dependent children in the household if there are already 2 or more in the award.
  • New claims for Universal Credit from families with more than 2 children will be directed to claim legacy benefits instead, even in Full (digital) Service areas.
  • Some exclusions will apply in certain circumstances, such as multiple births.
Clickherefor more details.
18 - 21 year olds
  • No automatic Housing Cost Element for certain 18 - 21 year olds getting Universal Credit under the Digital service. More infohere.
  • More conditionality under the 'Youth Obligation'for certain 18 - 21 year olds.
Conditionality forparents
  • Parents on Universal Credit whose youngest child is 3 will be expected to look for work. Seehere.
Other changes to Universal Credit
  • For every £1 of wages that are taken into account, working claimants get to keep 2p more - the taper is reducing from 65% to 63%.
  • The higher amount of the Child Element for the eldest child is being abolished, so claimants whose first child is born after 6 April 2017 will get the child element at £231.67 instead of £277.08 per month.
Tax Credits
  • No Family Element in the award if first child is born on or after 6th April 2017
Bereavement Support Payment
  • Will replacethe current bereavement benefits (Bereavement Allowance, Widowed Parent's Allowance and Bereavement Payment)forthose who are bereavedfrom 6th April 2017. More detailshere.

We are still waiting for the amending regulations for these changes to be published. So look out for updates on the website and in the next couple of newsletters!
Our 'Hot Topic' Workshops - get booked on!

The following Half-Day Wokshops are available:

MANCHESTER

Welfare Benefits for Families:The changing landscape
Monday 3rd April 2017- Manchester
half day - 9.45am to 12.45pm
Click herefor outline andherefor more details

 

Limited Capacity ESA & UC: The problem areas
Monday 3rd April 2017- Manchester
half day - 1.30pm to 4.30pm
Click herefor outline andherefor more details

LONDON

Welfare Benefits for Families:The changing landscape
Tuesday 11th April 2017- London
half day - 1.45pm to 5.00pm
Click herefor outline andherefor more details


Book a placefor £55+vatper delegate per half day session
(or come on two for £95+vat).


emailinfo@housingsystems.co.uk


APA Managed Payment paid to tenant in error?

Question: The Universal Credit Department agreed to our request for an APA Managed Payment, but then paid all of the UC award to our tenant who spent it! Is there anything we can do?
Answer: Yes!

We are aware of situations where landlords have not received APA Managed Payments because, due to administrative error or a system malfunction, the claimant received the Housing Cost Element instead.

We believe there is scope for landlords to insist on being paid the amount they should have received. This is because the payment of the Housing Cost Element to the claimant was outside the Universal Credit Regulations.

If the UC Department have decided that APA Managed Payments to the landlord should be made, and that decision has not been revised or superseded, that is the legal decision whichstands. So,if a payment is then made to the tenant by mistake, it isunlawfully made. In other words, it is not a payment of Universal Credit as it was made outside of the law.

The DWP should, therefore, make the correct payment to the landlord.Please seeStandard Letter UCMP4.

Where the DWP refuse to do so the landlord will need to make a complaint and pursue compensation for maladministration -click here.

We also believe that, as the additional payment made to the claimant was made outside of the Universal Credit Regulations, it cannot be classed as an overpayment of Universal Credit - and therefore cannot be recovered from them by reducing their on-going entitlement.

Please let us know how you get on with anychallenges!



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 - Leefrom Isos Housing - a £50 cheque is making its way to Wansbeck Valley Food Bank.


In the last year we have donated over £750 to Food Banksacross the length and breadth of the UK from Plymouth to Angus and Conwy including others in between...

We have received several messages of thanks - so we thought we would share a couple with you...

"Your support will be very much appreciated by our Food Bank clients and go a long way to making a difference in people's lives", Hope Centre, Derby.

"Your generous donation will sustain the work of the charity to feed those who are in crisis in the local area", Chichester District Foodbank.

So why not have a go at ourcompetition - it couldbe you nominating your localfood bank (and winninga nice box of chocolates for yourself too!)



Just email the answerto the question below to us byFriday 17th Marchfor your chance to win.

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.


This month’s question is:

Margaret, aged 50 is claiming Universal Credit for the first time after losing her full-time job.
She lives in a 4 bedroom, rented, Housing Association property with her daughter, Daisy (age 17 who is at college full-time), her sonDaniel (age 25) andDaniel's partner Sam (age 24).
How many bedrooms is she allowed under the Universal Credit 'bedroom tax' size criteria?


Find your answerhere


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



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 we are going to feature just one.

This month's letter is:UC S1


This letter is for Universal Credit claimants to use if they have been sanctioned for leaving their job and they left the job within a'trial period' - which means they lasted more than 4 weeks in the job and finished within 12 weeks of starting it.

The UC Regulations allow a claimant to try out a job, so, if theytakea job or extra hours of work which means they are working more than the number of hours expected of them on theirClaimant Commitment, they should not be sanctioned for voluntarily leavingthe job within the ‘trial period’.

Click herefor more information.

Similar rules apply to the Jobseeker's Allowance Regulations - see letterJS1.

Did you Know?

How to maximise
Universal Credit entitlement
from the start
of a Full/DigitalService claim?

The Universal Credit Regulations – Reg 10 (1)(d) - state that where the DWP are unable to accept a claim by telephone, the date of the Universal Credit claim can be ‘the date of first notification of intention to make the claim’, as long as a properly completed claim is then submitted within a calendar month.

We think this regulation could be particularly useful in the ‘Full’/Digital service areas, where there is no telephone support for making a claim.

‘Full’/Digital Service claimants are oftendelayed in completing their on-line claim because, for example:
  • they have no access to the internet at home and the only local venue with free access (eg. thelibrary) has nofree slots that day, or
  • they do not have IT skills and therefore need to wait for an appointment at the Jobcentre or Local Council for support with makingtheir claim, or
  • they do not have all the required information to hand and they cannot get back on-line the same day.
We think the best way to approach this situation is for the claimant to:
  1. Ring the helpline on0345 600 4272 toexplain why they areunable to make/complete their claim that day. (The call will be recorded. It is important thatthe claimant notes downwho they spoke to and the time.)
  2. Once their claim is made, make a request on their journal for the claim to be treated as made on the date they made the phone call.They can use the wording instandard letter UC CP2 as a starting point.
Clickherefor more information.
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