Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.
Current Hot Topics

Parents waiting for extra UC unnecessarily

We have been made aware that when a Universal Credit claimant has a new baby or takes on responsibility for a child / young person the DWP are refusing to include a Child Element in the UC award or include the child when assessing under-occupancy, until the claimant has been awarded Child Benefit (and presumably also not including - where relevant - the Disabled Child Element or Child Care Costs Element)

The trouble with this is that Child Benefit claims are taking approximately 12 weeks to be put into payment.
This means parents are being left to support a newborn or new child / young person in their household without receiving the extra financial support they are entitled to and need!!

There is nothing in the Universal Credit Regulations that confirms this approach.

In fact, what the Universal Credit Regulations do say is that a Child Element should be included (subject to the two child limit rules) for each child / young person the claimant is responsible for (Reg 24, UC Regs). And the Regulations define this as follows: A person is responsible for a child or qualifying young person who normally lives with them. (Reg 4, UC Regs).

Whilst being in receipt of Child Benefit may be an indication that a child / young person is living with the claimant – it is not definitive proof because someone can get Child Benefit for a child who is not living with them in certain circumstances. 

Indeed, the DWP’s own UC Guidance correctly states, when deciding where a child is normally living, that it is irrelevant who is getting the Child Benefit – para F1010 of the Advice for Decision Makers states: 
‘“Normally lives” is not defined in legislation and should be given the meaning that a child or qualifying young person normally lives with a person where they spend more time with that person than with anyone else. Note: which person gets CHB is not taken into account. ’

So what should a UC claimant do if the DWP are refusing to include a Child Element until the Child Benefit is put into payment?

If the claimant can provide some other evidence that the child / young person is living with them eg hospital discharge notice, letter from social worker / heath visitor / midwife / doctor / school etc – we see no reason why the DWP have to wait for Child Benefit to be put into payment.

If you are working with a UC claimant who is struggling to get a Child Element included in their UC award because the Child Benefit has not yet been awarded – then please use our standard letter UC HM2 / copy the text into their journal and we would suggest they let their MP know. 

You can also make a formal complaint about the way the claim has been handled to the Complaints Resolution Team (who should help resolve the matter quickly).