11th September 2021: Glitch in digital "View and Prove EUSS status" system is causing problems for EEA Nationals. The Guardian reports that when someone applies to change from Pre-Settled Status to Settled status the system only shows a certificate of application and does not show that the person has Pre-settled status. Although this is sufficient to prove a right to live, work, rent and access benefits not all employers/banks etc realise this and applicants are being rejected. More on the EU Settlement scheme in this section.
10th September 2021: From 1st October 2021 claimants living in a social sector property that has been adapted under a sanctuary scheme will be excluded from the Bedroom Tax. Following a European Court of Human Rights judgement in 2019, new Regulations have been published which exclude victims of domestic abuse living in a social sector rented property that is adapted under the sanctuary scheme from the Bedroom Tax. This applies to both Housing Benefit and Universal Credit. See the Regulations here. And find more info on the Bedroom Tax under UC here and HB here.
9th September 2021: Post Office card accounts closure extended until November 2022.
Due to disruption caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, the planned closure of Post Office card accounts has been extended by 12 months to allow the most vulnerable claimants to make alternative arrangements. More from gov.uk here. More on claiming UC without a bank account here.
3rd September 2021: People arriving to the UK under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) will be given Indefinite Leave to Remain on arrival. This means they will be eligible for UC and other benefits. More from gov.uk here. More on Indefinite Leave to Remain here.
31st August 2021: According to the DWP's Touchbase newsletter, the Universal Credit system now automatically identifies claimants who receive a second monthly salary payment in one benefit assessment period.
The second payment will be moved forward to the next assessment period to ensure the claimant’s benefits don’t fluctuate from one month to the next.
note although the system automatically identifies this, it appears the moving of the payment still has to be done manually.
25th August 2021: DWP's request for tenders to help deliver "Move to UC" have now closed with 19 complete applications. Note the work described as
"working within the wider UC Programme to enhance existing UC Product to identify people still claiming legacy benefits and to safely move people at scale from the legacy benefits, to UC" should start by 25th October 2021 with a 24 to 30 month contract. "Move to UC" ie the managed migration process, began in Harrogate but was halted due to Covid. More from gov.uk here. More on managed migration here.
2nd August 2021: Child Disability Payments, which replace DLA (care) for children in Scotland are now available in Dundee City, Perth and Kinross and the Western Isles. Applications open for the rest of Scotland in the autumn.
Rates, and most entitlement conditions for CDP are the same as DLA (care) and it will be treated the same in respect of other benefits. More from gov.scot here.
2nd August 2021: 5th SEISS scheme open.
If turnover is down by 30% or more they get 80% of 3 months' average trading profits, up to max £7,500.
If turnover is down less than 30%, they get 30% of 3 months' average trading profits to max £2,850.
Anyone who only became self-employed in 2019/2020 doesn't need to show proof of a drop in turnover.
HMRC will contact affected individuals directly to tell them when they can apply.
More from gov.uk here.
27th July 2021: Advice Worker Survey. The Ministry of Justice is surveying advice organisations to improve their understanding of the needs and characteristics of people seeking legal support and how organisations currently provide advice.
This survey is specifically aimed at frontline staff who provide advice to members of the public, including advisers (volunteers and paid), caseworkers and lawyers.
It should only take approximately 8 minutes to complete.
If you have any questions about this work, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
27th July 2021:The Public Law Project (PLP) would like to hear about your experience of benefit sanctions since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic – including whether or not sanctioning decisions is currently a key issue for the individuals you support.
The 5 minute survey will be used to help shape a research project looking at why claimants do – and do not – challenge benefit sanction decisions. Link to survey here.
If you have any questions about the survey or would like to find out more about the broader research, please contact Caroline Selman at email@example.com
26th July 2021:UC claimants were notified on 23rd July that the £20 uplift to UC is to end in the autumn. They are being notified on their journals. If a MAP ends on 5th October it should include the higher amount, but if it ends on 6th October, the standard allowance would be back to the usual rates.
Joseph Rowntree Foundation article on the end to the uplift here. £20 uplift info on our Covid pages here.
26th July 2021: The DWP has agreed to compensate a couple in full for loss of benefit income when moving to UC, because their SDP was reinstated after they claimed UC. They were originally not protected from UC because they didn't have an SDP when they claimed UC, but the DWP conceded their Judicial Review represented by Garden Court Chambers. The DWP will pay £9,680 in arrears and more than £300 per month in ongoing compensation, plus an ex-gratia compensation payment of £1,600 and their full legal costs. Garden Court Chambers report here. This could mean that a claimant who was in a similar position between January 2019 and January 2021 should seek legal advice to see if they could also be compensated.
23rd July 2021:On 15 July a draft plan was laid before Parliament to extend Widowed Parent’s Allowance and Bereavement Support Payment to surviving co-habiting partners with children who were living with their partner at the time of death. Once approved by Parliament, the changes will apply retrospectively from 30 August 2018, with any backdated payments being made as lump sums. More from gov.uk here.
23rd July 2021: Citizens Advice are running advice sessions at Yorkshire Building Society branches in Yorkshire as part of a trial.They will be offering advice on benefits, debt, employment, housing, consumer issues and more. Info on the scheme here.
21st July 2021: Various school meal/activity programmes for the school holidays on this page.
16th July 2021: DWP has agreed to change its practice of pressuring disabled benefits claimants who had appealed a DWP decision into accepting an "offer" of less than they are legally entitled to. Those called were often not told about their appeal rights or dissuaded from going to a tribunal. As a result of a PIP claimant's challenge (supported by Public Law Project), the DWP has agreed to re-write their policies and guidance and will retrain DWP officials.
Details from Public Law Project here.
12th July 2021: Covid easements to the Minimum Income Floor end from 31st July 2021. But there are "easements" for some - those who were part way through the 12 month "start-up period" had the clock stopped when the easements started - so they can serve the rest of the start-up period, and the DWP has the discretion to continue easements for those whose businesses are still affected by Covid. Details on this page.
12th July 2021: DWP have begun the "Could UC be for you?"campaign on social media and on their webpage. .Although there is a link to a link from Citizens Advice on moving from legacy benefits, and another to a gov.uk page on moving from tax credits, there is little else warning that people could be worse off - so beware if directing claimants to this information. There is also no mention of the forthcoming £20 per week drop, nor of high rates of deductions. Website page Universal Credit - working for you here
6th July 2021: New extra statutory benefits payments to continue temporarily for EEA nationals and family members who have not yet applied to the EUSS. New claims for benefits cannot be made. Home office is writing to those it has identified and will write again in September, giving a month before benefits are suspended, then a further month to apply before payments terminated. (This data matching exercise appears to be separate from the formal notifications to apply which only allow 28 days). In both cases good cause for lateness must be shown. Letter from DWP to Revenues & Benefits managers here.
6th July 2021: 2 new gov.uk factsheets for landlords on the EU Settlement Scheme. One is on Right to Rent, confirming retrospective checks not required and landlords shouldn't evict those who haven't yet applied; one with information for late applicants to the EUSS - who have 28 days to apply from receiving an official notice from the Home Office. Fact sheet on late applications here; factsheet on Right to Rent here. Updated guidance on Right to Rent for landlords here.
28th June 2021: Deadline to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme is in 2 days - 30th June. Those who have applied by then but not heard will have their rights protected. NOTE: It appears those who apply within 28 days of receiving an official notice to apply will NOT have their benefits stopped automatically if they apply within that time. DWP Minister Justin Tomlinson has said "Those currently receiving benefits will not see their payments stop automatically from 1 July. It is, however, important that anyone who hasn’t applied to the EUSS does so quickly, including if the HO contacts them following the deadline, to ensure that benefit payments don’t stop
" Parliamentary answer here
More from a news report here
21st June 2021: EEA nationals and family members who cannot use the online application for the EU Settlement Scheme can now download a form. This is only for those who have no passport /ID card, or otherwise are unable to use the online application and have already contacted the EU Resolution centre and been allowed to use a "paper" application. Form available on Home Office website here. EU Resolution centre helpline contact details here.
21st June 2020: Will Quince statement gives hope that UC claimants will shortly not need to alert work coaches to 2 month's wages paid in one assessment period. In a parliamentary answer on 14/06 he said "We expect to automate identification of affected claimants in mid-summer 2021. This will allow us to proactively correct awards before they are paid, without the need for the claimant to raise the issue. "
16th June 2021.DWP overpayments recovery guide changed to state that recoverable hardship payments do not have to be repaid in exceptional circumstances. These are effectively recoverable reductions in a sanction where the claimant is in hardship. The guidance states:"5.83 In exceptional circumstances the Secretary of State can use their discretion to waive all or some of an overpayment and any associated penalty and recoverable hardship payments where it is appropriate to do so.
5.85 Waiver is considered on the individual circumstances of the case but is normally only considered where both current and future recovery action will result in severe issues for the welfare of the debtor or their family." This follows a successful Judicial Review by Public Law Project. More on hardship payments here.
7th June 2021: Only 23 days til the deadline for EEA nationals and their family members to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. From 1st July they will be unlawfully present if not applied (special rules for pending applications). Check out our new flowchart for the situation from 1st July: here.
2nd June 2021: Leigh Day solicitors are asking for cases of disabled students refused UC due to changes in the regs that mean they have to not only be getting PIP but have been found to have a limited capability for work. Needed by 6th July. More details here. Info on disabled students and UC on this page.
1st June 2021: Eviction ban ends today. Advice from Shelter here
31st May 2021:Changes to the LHA rate
Max age for care leavers to get the one bed LHA rate (rather than shared accommodation rate)raised from 22 to 25.
No age limit for eligibility to the one bed LHA rate (rather than shared accommodation rate) for those who have lived in a homeless hostel for 3 months or more. More on LHA rates on this page.
20th May 2021: Financial vulnerabilities: call for evidence.
The DWP Serious Case Panel would like anonymous case studies for them to consider in order to "expand their understanding of the financial circumstances that make customers vulnerable, to support internal learning, decision-making and change design."
17th May 2021: Fraud and error statistics.
Please click here for the areas they would lie information on, and where to submit.
In 2020/21 overpayment and underpayments of UC and State Pension combined (no other benefits reported for 2021) were 3.9% overpayment, 1.2% underpayment. Both are the highest reported rates to date.
Housing Costs errors remained the largest Claimant Error underpayment reason. The increase from 0.2% to 0.5% was due to more claimants incorrectly declaring their Housing Costs. The Fraud overpayment rate rose from 1.4% to 3.0%.
The estimated rate of overpayments in UC rose from 9.4% to 14.5%.
Official Error overpayments decreased from 1.3% to 0.9%.
14th May 2021: DWP changes Court Fines Deduction rate in its Benefits Rates Policy Paper. The paper states that court fines are deducted from UC at 5% of the standard allowance. This follows the High Court ruling in March that the DWP's rigid policy of deducting the maximum rate of £108.35 was unlawful. Policy paper here. More on TPDs for Court Fines here.
13th May 2021: Over 5.42 million applications have been made to the EU Settlement Scheme up to the end of April 2021.
5,423,300 applications were received.
5,118,300 applications were concluded.
52% were granted Settled Status and 44% were granted Pre-settled Status.
Of the remaining applications, 1% received a withdrawn or void outcome, 1% were invalid and 1% were refused. Statistics here.
13th May 2021: DWP and HMRC will be issuing letters on or around 14 May, 21 May and 28 May to people they believe may need to apply to the EUSS. The letters will include guidance on who should apply and how to do so, and will advise them of support available to assist applications. HMRC will also be issuing text messages on EUSS to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens in late May. How to apply to the EUSS here.
11th May 2021: 320,000 applications to the EU Settlement scheme not yet processed. There are less than 50 days to the application deadline, although some may be allowed an extension if the Homs Office accepts they have reasonable grounds. And those pending applications should be protected More here.
Guardian article here.
10th May 2021: From July 2021 DWP will make its first referrals to a new Restart Scheme. It will give UC claimants who've been out of work for between 12 to 18 months enhanced support to find jobs. Providers, including Maximus, Serco and G4S,will work with employers, local government and other partners to deliver tailored support for individuals More from gov.uk here.
4th May 2021:BT introduces a Home Essentials tariff of £15 a month on fibre broadband for those receiving Universal Credit, Guarantee Pension Credit, IB JSA, Income Support, and IR ESA More here.
4th May 2021: New guidance for money advisers on Breathing Space (Debt Respite Scheme). It confirms that UC Advances are excluded debts. Also states "Government debts like tax and benefit debts are all likely to qualify, unless they are included in the list of excluded debts." The scheme starts today.
3rd May 2021: Permission granted for 2 ESA claimants to seek a judicial review in the High Court of the decision not to apply the £20 a week uplift to ESA. This was introduced for UC claimants - an additional £20 a week in the standard allowance - during the pandemic. But it was not applied to ESA. More on the case here. More on the UC uplift here.
3rd May 2021: DWP guidance on PIP reviews where a telephone assessment is impossible. The guidance confirms that where there is sufficient evidence to make a decision this should be forwarded to the DWP, but shorter (9 to 12 month) review periods should be used; and where there is insufficient evidence the DWP has discretion to make a nil award. Guidance here.
3rd May 2021: In  EWHC 1085 (Admin), the High Court ruled that the government's ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF) policy unlawfully fails to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
The High Court quashed the judgement in In ST & Anor v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 1085 (Admin) (29 April 2021), to impose NRPF on a South African parent of a British child.
Lady Justice Laing concluded that paragraph GEN1.11A of Appendix FM to the Immigration rules (which states when the NRPF will/will not be applied to a parent or child) does not fully comply with the requirements of section 55 of the Borders Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 to ensure that any functions or services in relation to immigration have regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in the UK.
If a non EEA national with a child has been told they have No Recourse to Public Funds they should seek advice from a registered immigration adviser as soon as possible.
More on NRPF on this page.
25th April 2021:Face to face medical assessments resume. Where the DWP feel they cannot gather sufficient information for the assessment by phone or paper, face-to-face assessments for Industrial Injuries Disablement benefit in England resume from 12 April 2021, 26 April Scotland and Wales; face-to-face assessments for PIP and work capability assessments for Universal Credit and ESA resume from May 2021 in England Scotland and Wales in line with when indoor socialising is allowed in each country.
23rd April 2021:NHF report "Universal Credit in a time of crisis". Summary here. To combat rising arrears ,housing associations have been working hard to support tenants during the pandemic, eg helping tenants to claim benefits, supportive approaches to rent collection, hardship funds, check-in calls, and shopping for customers. Great work!
21st April 2021: Covid Winter Grant Payment to be extended to 20th June 2021 and renamed Covid Local Support Grant. LAs in England can use the funding to provide essentials such as food and help with utility bills to families and vulnerable individuals. LAs can also provide warm clothing and bedding, soap, boiler repair, purchase of fridges and ovens, and sanitary products. .
More on this page. Therese Coffey statement here.
30th March 2021: Face to face assessments disability and work capability assessments are starting up again for cases where the DWP is unable to make an assessment from paper evidence or by phone.
Face-to-face assessments for Industrial Injuries Disablement benefit in England will resume from 12 April 2021;
face-to-face assessments for PIP and work capability assessments for Universal Credit and ESA will resume from May 2021. More from gov.uk here
30th March 2021: In Scotland, from 26th July, the Child Disability Payment replaces DLA for children. The Disability Assistance for Children and Young People (Scotland) Regulations 2021 set out the eligibility criteria and claims and payment rules. Regs here.
SR.No.82/2021 and SR.No.83/2021.
29th March 2021: Benefits uprating regulations for Northern Ireland published.
29th March 2021: 1,400 self-employed women who claimed Maternity Allowance between April 2015 and July 2017 were underpaid because they were not told they'd need to pay Class 2 NI contributions to get the higher rate. Some could be entitled to as much as £5,498.
But to get the back pay they will need to pay the missing contributions: DWP say they will contact the underpaid women to tell them how to do this.
More on the 'substantial risk' rules here.
24th March 2021:'Substantial risk' consideration for a Limited Capability for Work/Work Related Activities Related Activities decision should take into account risk in travelling to and from the Jobcentre and job interviews, as well as to and from work. In CUC/747/2020 the Judge held that the tribunal erred in law under paragraph 4(1) of Schedule 8 to the UC Regs in considering only the problems the claimant may have had travelling to and from work.
24th March 2021: Welsh £500 funeral payment for families who have lost a child age under 18 from 1 April 2021. This will be offered when the death is registered so there is no need to make a claim. There is no means test. More from Welsh government here.
24th March 2021: 80 new temporary JobCentres announced.
Also 10,000 of the planned 13,500 new Work Coaches have been recruited. List of new Jobcentres from gov.uk here
24th March 2021: A successor to 'Gov.uk Verify'- a single sign-on digital identity service - will be piloted.
Verify is used to prove identity for Government services including Universal Credit, Income Tax, checking state pension and driving licences, etc. Many UC claimants have difficulty with it and verify ID in a different way: more on ID verification for UC on these pages.
The new service will be largely government-built and government-owned. More detail here.
23rd March 2021: DWP launches a basic Benefits Checker.
Claimants currently in receipt of legacy benefits should seek advice before claiming UC as they could be worse off and will not be able to go back. Benefits Checker here
. Worse off on UC? here
. Better off on UC? here
Our UC calculator here.
17th March 2021:Retrospective Verification of UC awards The DWP is now reviewing UC claims which were not verified due to the high volume of new claims being received due to the pandemic. More on this page.
11th March 2021: In Ncube v Brighton and Hove City Council the High Court has ruled that councils can lawfully provide emergency accommodation for people who aren’t entitled under homelessness legislation because of their immigration status, for example because they have ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF).
The court has ruled that, while the public health emergency persists, local councils can lawfully provide accommodation to those sleeping rough who are otherwise ineligible for support. Councils can use their powers under section 138 of the Local Government Act 1972 and section 2B of the NHS Act 2006 to provide safe emergency accommodation as the current pandemic constitutes an emergency and public health issue. More from Shelter here.
11th March 2021:A new £2 million Social Housing Fuel Support Fund will help Scottish social landlords to support tenants who are struggling with fuel costs during the coronavirus pandemic. Examples of activity that may be funded include vouchers to allow people to top-up prepayment meters, but is not limited to those with prepayment meters. Projects have to be able to be delivered by 31 March 2021. It will be funded by the Scottish Government, and managed and administered by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA). More from SFHA here including application form.
11th March 2021: The ban on bailiff evictions, and the requirement to give 6 months' notice on NOSPs, has been extended to 31 May 2021.
More from gov.uk here
3rd March 2021: Budget Benefits news:
The £20 uplift in Universal Credit Standard Allowance will continue for a further 6 months from April 2021.
The Minimum Income Floor suspension continues to the end of July 2021, gradually being re-introduced in August but with a discretion not to be applied to claimants whose self employed earnings are adversely affected by Covid.
From April, New Claim Advances & Benefit Transfer Advances can be repaid over 24 months.
Third Party Deduction maximum rate will be reduced from 30% of standard allowance to 25% .
The surplus earnings threshold, due to be reduced from £2500 to £300, will remain at £2500 until 31.03.2022.
Working Tax Credit*:
The temporary £20 uplift ends but claimants will receive a £500 one off payment.
This includes those getting Child Tax Credit only, who would be entitled to Working Tax Credit but for their income being too high to qualify.
Local Housing Allowance Shared Accommodation Rate:
From June 2021, care leavers remain exempt from the Shared Accommodation Rate until age 25.
And those exempt from the Shared Accommodation Rate due to having lived in homeless hostels for 3 months will include claimants under 25 (currently 25-35).
3rd March 2021: Furlough to be extended to September. Employers will be expected to pay 10% towards the hours their staff do not work in July, increasing to 20% in August and September.
3rd March 2021: Fifth EISS payments. A fifth grant, covering the period from May 2021 to September 2021, works as follows:.
Those whose turnover has fallen by 30% or more will receive the full grant worth 80% of three months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500.
Those whose turnover has fallen by less than 30% will receive a 30% grant, capped at £2,850.
The scheme has been extended to include those whose business started in 2019-20.
3rd March 2021: The Budget announced a pilot no-interest loans scheme. This will help vulnerable consumers who would benefit from affordable short-term credit to meet unexpected costs as an alternative to relying on high-cost credit.
1st March 2021: National Insurance Number applications should be available online to most people by end of March 2021.
Parliamentary answer from Guy Opperman here.
26th February 2021:HB Personal Allowances for some pension age claimants are reducing from April 2021.
From £191.15 down to £177.10 for single claimants who reach pension age on or after 1 April 2021;
From£286.05 down to £270.30, for couples who both (or in polygamous marriages*, all) reach pension age on or after 1 April 2021
*plus £93.20 for each additional spouse who is a member of the same household.
Other pension age claimants stay on the higher rates.
19th February 2021: Tax Credits, Child Benefit and Guardians Allowance rates for 2020/21 published. Regulations here.
18th February 2021:The Scottish Government has announced a new £100 Covid Spring Hardship Payment targeted at low-income families whose children receive free meals in schools and early learning and childcare settings. More from gov.scot here.
19th February 2021: War Pensions rates for 2020/21 published. HB Circular A2/2021.
19th February 2019: National Insurance Contributions Thresholds for 2020/21 published. Regulation here.
18th February 2021:The Welsh Self Isolation Support Scheme has been extended until June 2021. It is now open to applications from people with a personal income of less than £500 per week and those on Basic Statutory Sick Pay who have been asked to self-isolate by Test, Trace, Protect service, the NHS Covid-19 App or by their child’s education setting.
12th February 2021: From 26 July 2021,DLA for children in Scotland will be replaced with a child disability payment. Children will have the same passported benefits, exemptions, concessions and reliefs as for DLA. The Disability Assistance for Children and Young People (Consequential Amendment and Transitional Provision) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 (SSI.No.73/021) here.
12th February 2021: DWP has started sending letters to those using Post Office Card Accounts for their UC payments, State Pension and other benefits, telling them that Post Office Card Accounts are going to close, and advising them to open a bank account and to inform them of alternative account details.
The current end date for the POCA contract with DWP is November 2021.
Claimants will still be able to use the payment exception service. More on how UC can be paid on this page.
12th February 2021: Latest statistics on applications to the EU Settlement Scheme show that up to the end of January 2021 across the UK 5.06 million applications were received and 4.68 million applications were processed.
53% were granted settled status and 44% were granted pre-settled status. 1% received a withdrawn or void outcome, 1% were invalid and 0.8% were refused.
3rd February 2021: From 16th February 2021 the Scottish £500 Self-Isolation Support Grant is being extended.
It will be available to workers earning the Real Living Wage or less, as well as those in receipt of a council tax reduction; and to those with caring responsibilities for someone over 16 who is asked to self-isolate. People can apply within 28 days of being told to self-isolate. More on this page
3rd February 2021: From 5th February 2021 the Welsh Self-Isolation Support Scheme is extended to people who have been notified of exposure to Covid-19 by the NHS contact tracing app.More on this page
2nd February 2021:DWP to employ 450 extra staff to handle calls to the Debt Management team in next 3 months.
This follows news that almost 4000 calls went unanswered in the first week of January. to Written answer by Will Quince here.
1st February 2020: DWP issues revised HB circular A1/2021 giving benefit rates for 2021/22 as the original contained many errors.
Revised version here.
27th January 2021:SDP Gateway closes today meaning people with a severe disability premium in a legacy benefit are not prevented from claiming UC.
However some will be entitled to a transitional SDP element when they move onto UC. More on this page.
25th January 2021: Salvato, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  EWHC 102 (Admin) (22 January 2021) considered the lawfulness and rationality of the "Proof of Payment Rule" in eligibility for the Child Care Element of Universal Credit.
This rule means that the claimant is only entitled to the Element if they have already paid the child care costs.
Mr Justice Chamberlain ruled that the Proof of Payment Rule unlawfully discriminates indirectly against women (over 80% of those entitled to the Element are female).
He rejected the Secretary of State's submission that the discrimination was justifiable - as to replace it with another system 'would require an enormous investment and resource'.
He further concluded that making entitlement to the Child Care Element dependent on proof of payment, rather than proof of liability to pay, is irrational.
Mr Justice Chamberlain had considered representations from a number of bodies including CPAG, Save the Children and Gingerbread, and will invite further submission before deciding what happens next (the appropriate "form of order") .
15th January 2021: from 15 January 2021, the Tax Credits Reviews and Appeals (Amendment) Order 2021 allows HMRC to review final tax credits decisions, even where the tax year has been finalised or the claim is closed, to backpay disability elements so long as the claimant has notified in time that they had a qualifying disability benefit (PIP, DLA, AFIP, AA).
15th January 2021: From Monday 18th January, Jobcentre opening hours will be 10am to 2pm. The phone lines, Relay UK service and Video relay times are unaffected.
12th January 2021: New regulations on eligibility for the SDP Transitional Element in UC
mean that, from 27the January 2021, where a couple separate, the partner who was not
the claimant, can
be entitled to this Element when they claim UC as a single person. Previously they could not. More on the SDP Transitional Element here
12th January 2021: Will Quince in an answer to parliamentary questions has stated:
There are no plans to introduce suspension of a) a repayment of UC advances and b) sanctions.
Work coaches will work with claimants to ensure claimant commitments are reasonable for claimants’ circumstances, and allow them to continue to adhere to Covid-19 public health advice.'
9th January 2021:The Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction) (England) Regulations 2021 extend the halt on evictions to 21 February 2021 from 11 January 2021. Evictions can still be carried out where the amount of unpaid rent arrears outstanding is at least an amount equivalent to 6 months’ rent.
24th December 2020: Government says the new rules allowing the Home office to cancel rough sleeping foreign nationals' permission to stay in the UK will only be used sparingly.
Baroness Williams stated
this would be where there was persistent anti social behaviour and offers of support were refused.
23rd December 2020: New Upper Tier decision rules that where a bedroom door can only open 50% because of the size and shape of the room and the bed being in the way, this does not mean it cannot be used as a bedroom. "I am satisfied that a 50-degree angle of door opening on its own is not a sufficient reason to find that the arrangement of the room did not provide reasonable access or was too unsafe to use as a bedroom. " CIH /1253/2018.
22nd December 2021:"Changing Futures" fund (England only). The government is inviting local organisations to form partnerships and bid for a share of a £46 million scheme to better support those who experience multiple disadvantages including homelessness, substance misuse, mental health issues, domestic abuse, and contact with the criminal justice system. More here.
22nd December 2021: The "Local Connections Fund" (England only).
This is open to charities and interest groups that reduce social isolation and support ways to tackle loneliness. The £4 million fund will be used for small grants between £300 and £2,500 to help local organisations bring people and communities together. More here.
21st December 2021: Job Retention Scheme extended to end April 2021, continuing to pay 80% of wages.
Government announcement here
. More on Furlough scheme here.
18th December 2020:The Court of Appeal has today ruled that the government acted unlawfully in denying rights to benefits for those EEA nationals with pre-settled (ie not full settled) status.
Fratila v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  EWCA 1741 (18 December 2020).
18th December 2020: Under Covid easements, PIP claimants didn't need to show good reason for not attending a telephone assessment. However. from 14 December 2020 PIP claimants who fail to attend a telephone assessment having been sent a letter, will have their claim disallowed. They can apply for a mandatory reconsideration or re-apply.
The Court of Appeal made an Order to quash those parts of the regulations that preclude EEA nationals with pre-settled status (and no Right to Reside) from entitlement to benefits. But the Order does not have to be implemented by decision makers until 26 February 2021, to allow the DWP to apply for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. Even after that date a decision maker can use their discretion to delay making a decision because there is a chance the Order could be overturned. But they should take the claimant's circumstances into account before 'stockpiling' the decision. And they should definitely not refuse benefits where the claimant has a qualifying Right to Reside.
Anyone with pre-settled status should claim benefits as soon as possible and, if refused, should request a mandatory reconsideration. This will mean that if the decision is delayed, when eventually agreed it will go back to the date of claim.
If they had previously applied and been refused and that decision was less than 13 months ago then they can request a mandatory reconsideration - if it was over a month ago they will also need to give reasons for not challenging it earlier.
If the benefit that was refused was Housing Benefit, or if they have already had a mandatory reconsideration decision refusing their claim, then they should appeal to HMCTS.
18th December 2020: During November on average 50,000 calls could not get through to Debt Management Service.
DWP say they are recruiting 90 more telephony agents. Will Quince statement here.
11th December 2020: Regulations confirm that furloughed workers will be treated as working their normal hours for Tax Credits for a further 8 weeks beyond the end of the Job Retention Scheme/ Self Employed Income Support Scheme, or beyond the end of a permanent change in circumstances.
11th December 2020: DWP confirms that it will not be possible for landlords to provide bulk rent changes for some months. Responding to the NHF:
"We haven’t yet found a secure, scalable way for this to happen and the test and learn has shown us significant issues to work through with landlords. As part of our work over the next few months running up to April we have prioritised time to look again at this area and explore any short/long term options which might be possible. Until then, our current process remains that housing costs and their declaration are the responsibility of the claimant. "
More on rent changes here
8th December 2020: Upper Tribunal decision says a claim for UC can be backdated (one month max) where a HB claimant moves LA areas and accidentally makes a new claim in the new LA area - the notification from that LA that they are not entitled to HB can be treated as 'late' notification that the claimant's HB has ended.
This is a broad interpretation of regulation 26(3)(aa) of the UC regs 2013 which say backdating can be allowed where "the claimant was previously in receipt of an existing benefit (as defined in the Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014) and notification of expiry of entitlement to that benefit was not sent to the claimant before the date that the claimant's entitlement expired
" CUC 0148/2020
. Backdating rules here
4th December 2020: Christmas and New Year Job Centre opening times here; early benefit payment dates here.
st December 2020: Covid Winter Grants Scheme begins in "early December".
The government has published guidance for Local Authorities on distributing payments, food and vouchers to vulnerable households. The ring-fenced grant, 170 million in total, is part of Local Welfare Provision and lasts until the end of March 2021. The grant is for food, energy, water and other essential items such as sanitary products. 80% of the money should be paid to households with children (up to age 19, or older if Child Benefit is being paid in respect of them). LAs are expected to use their data to identify vulnerable households in need. Job Centres are being made aware so they can contact the LA with details of likely candidates. The recipient does not need to be on benefits and people with No Recourse to Public Funds are eligible although they will need to demonstrate some other need than destitution through having no recourse to public funds. Any money not distributed by the end of March will be repaid to the government.
26th November 2020: £20 additional UC/WTC to end in April2021?
Strong indications from DWP budget tables
that these will be discontinued from April 2021.This is because the £6bn spent in 2021 does not appear in the 2021 forecast.
26th November 2020. Office for Budget Responsibility Report says the government has decided to freeze current Local Housing Allowance Rates for 2021/2.
19th November 2020: Applications open for Scottish Child Payment.
The Scottish Child Payment is £10 per week for every child under six for households with children and in receipt of a qualifying benefit (Universal Credit, Legacy Benefits and/or Pension Credit).
It does not affect other benefits.
It will be paid from 15 February 2021 but applications have been open since 9 November 2020.
The government aims to extend the scheme to children under 16 by the end of 2022.
How to apply here.
13th November 2020: Regulations are in place to allow monthly wages to be allocated to the correct assessment period where otherwise there would be 2 in one.
However Neil Couling has tweeted that it is likely this will have to be fixed manually for some time. This could mean claimants having to notice when this happens and ask for it to be fixed.
Neil Couling's tweet: "...Not able to discern salary pattern from Real Time Information data, so fully automated solution a way off. We have a list of cases where this has happened, which we will use, but it's bound to be incomplete and will get new claims too. So will also need to rely on folk coming forward. "
13th November 2020: Home Office reports 4.2 million applied to EU Settlement Scheme.
However many haven't. How to apply on this page.
Note EEA nationals who need support on applying can go to this postcode checker
to see what organisations near to them can help.
11th November 2020: The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act receives Royal Assent.
This means Free Movement rights for EEA nationals living in the UK ends on 31.12.2020. EEA nationals who wish to enter the UK to work will need to apply for a Visa, which will be granted if they score enough points on the new immigration system, on the same basis as non EEA nationals. However Irish citizens will continue to be able to enter and live in the UK as they do now.
5th November 2020: Job Retention Scheme extended to March.
This has implications for EEA nationals currently living in the UK too, however they will be able to live and work in the UK without a visa if they have been granted settled or presettled status under the EU Settlement scheme. Only settled status confers rights to benefits. But in the period up to the deadline for applying (30.06.21) there are protections for those who have rights broadly equivalent to the current 'Right to Reside'.
Government announcement here.
And the SEISS payment is increased to 89% of trading profits for the whole of the November to February grant instead of just November as previously announced. Details here
3rd November 2020: The SEISS grant for November only has been increased to 80% of trading profits for that month.
Boris Johnson announcement here.
More on SEISS here
3rd November 2020: Minimum Income Floor suspension to continue until April 2021.
Statement by Therese Coffey here.
2nd November 2020: Caselaw finds that capital from the sale of a former home can be disregarded if it is ‘more probable than not’ that it will be used to buy a new home. Judge Poynter ruled that the relevant regulation "does not require the claimant to establish .. any form of certainty. It only requires that the claimant should establish that it is more probable than not that the money 'is to be used' for that purpose." He also confirmed that the capital does not have to have been earmarked or kept in a separate account. CUC/1773/2018
1st November 2020: The Independent Case Examiner for the DWP has found multiple errors and administrative failures in Universal Credit, along with misadvice and misrepresentation by DWP employees. The report finds that many people have been moved onto UC when they would have been better off on legacy benefits. It also found that, due to all UC overpayments being recoverable, many claimants were in debt to the DWP where the overpayment had arisen through official error. Report here.
1st November 2020: Job Retention Scheme extended til Dec 2nd 2020. Job Support Scheme postponed until then. Government announcement here.
26th October 2020:
Changes proposed to the Scottish Disability Benefits system announced by Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, Shirley-Anne Somerville
She said it would be a system that makes people feel that they have been treated with dignity, fairness and respect.
Disability benefits will be renamed to make it clearer who is entitled:
Disability Living Allowance for children will be renamed 'child disability payment'
Personal Independence Payment will be renamed 'adult disability payment'
Attendance Allowance will be renamed 'pension age disability payment'.
And there will be no 'traumatic' DWP-style assessments but instead:
'Decisions will be made using information gathered through the applications process including from health care providers.
Should more detail be required to make decisions on an application for the new Adult Disability Payment, it will be gathered through a consultation. Such consultations will be based on a conversation between a healthcare professional employed by the Scottish Government and the client. There will be no private sector involvement in this process
26th October 2020: Prisoners on temporary lease will continue to have access to means-tested benefits until 12th May 2021.
More from gov.scot.
New regulations in force from 12th November extend the original provision, brought in due to the pandemic.
26th October 2020: Settled is a new charity whose mission is to guide, inform and assist EU citizens who are at risk of being left behind, due to their specific life circumstances. https://settled.org.uk/en/contact-us/
26th October 2020: Cold Weather Payments due to start 1st November. Gov.uk website to check if they are due in a particular postcode here.
More on Cold Weather Payments here.
26th October 2020:
New statement of changes to the Immigration Rules: HC 813 published. This gives more details of the new points based Immigration System.
23rd October 2020: Amended UC Regulations to resolve the problem of monthly paid workers being paid two wages in one month will be implemented from November 16th.
The regulations follow the 'Johnson' case
in which it was ruled that it was irrational to treat a claimant as having two payments in one assessment period and none in the next, when they are in fact paid regularly but a mismatch between their payment dates and their assessment dates meant that two wages fell within one assessment period Regs here
23rd October 2020.
Government confirms that vulnerable EEA nationals already lawfully living in the UK, such as children in care and homeless people, who have not applied to the EUSS by the deadline 30 June 2021 can apply late if there are “reasonable grounds why they missed the deadline”. A Home Office minister gave as an example an 8 year old child now who would become an adult in 10 years’ time, and may discover, for example when they went to their first job, that the local council 10 years before had not made that application. Guardian report here
23rd October 2020.
Government announces increases to 3rd and 4th Self Employment Income Scheme
payments from 20% of self employed profits to 40%. For the Job Support Scheme
available to open but struggling businesses, there is a reduction in employers' contribution from 33% to 5% of non worked hours, and employees' minimum earnings requirement to 20%. No change to the JSS for closed businesses. Click on the links for more details .
2nd October 2020: Warm Home Discount scheme goes live with helpline -0800 731 0214 - open from 12 October. The scheme obliges most electricity suppliers to discount bills by £140 for pensioners in receipt of Guarantee Pension Credit (who will be written to) and certain other low income households. More on help with fuel bills here.
2nd October 2020: Video Relay Service (VRS) is now available for people claiming Pension Credit and for those seeking support from the Social Fund.
This service allows customers to make an inbound call to DWP via a British Sign Language interpreter using a video connection. There is no need for anyone to be in the same location and customers do not have to book the service in advance.
2nd October 2020: A new report funded by the Economic and Social Research Council reveals that since March, the number of benefit claimants in the UK has increased by 116.8% rising from 1.2 million to 2.7 million in just five months. The majority of new claims have been for Universal Credit.
The report highlights a number of differences between the demographic profile of existing and new benefit claimants, including a rise in the percentage of claimants who are male, BAME, not disabled, owner -occupiers, and University educated. Reprt here.
27th September 2020: New guidance issued to Work Coaches to remind them that the Flexible Support Fund can be used to pay for upfront childcare costs. Parliamentary answer by Will Quince here. More on Childcare costs here; Flexible Support Fund here. Our page on New Claim Interviews here.
27th September 2020: Government confirms that the DWP us trialing video appointments in five Job Centres. Parliamentary answer here.
25th September 2021: The Self Employment Income Support Scheme is being extended until 30 April 2021. This will be paid in two tranches: a taxable lump sum to cover 3 months' worth of profits from November to 31 January 2021 and a second for February to 30 Aril 2021. The first will be a lump sum worth 20% of average monthly profits up to a maximum of £1,875,; the second has not yet been determined. This is part of the Chancellor's 'Winter Economy Plan'.
23rd September 2020: The High Court, in Caine, R (On the Application Of) v Department For Work And Pensions  EWHC 2482 (Admin) ruled that the so-called '53 week rent year' was not unjust for UC claimants who pay rent weekly. The Judge concluded that 'any difference in treatment is not manifestly disproportionate to the legitimate aims pursued by the formulae'... and that 'universal credit was not intended to provide full reimbursement for tenants, and discretionary housing payments exist for those who may get into difficulty'.
21st September 2020: A survey of EU citizens in Cambridgeshire by the Social Market Foundation think tank concludes that “the EU Settlement Scheme is still unknown to many migrants, and poorly understood by users”.
The findings come from interviews in early 2020 with 90 migrant workers in the Cambridgeshire fens. Most were Lithuanian, Romanian or Bulgarian. Almost all worked in jobs considered “lower-skilled”. Only a little over half of the interviewees to the Survey indicated that they were aware of the EU Settlement Scheme. Report here. Mpre on the EUSS in this section of the webiste.
18th September 2020: From 8th October Severe Disability Premium Transitional Payments will be made through the UC system as an element, rather than manually as an additional payment. SDP transitional payments are additional financial support for former SDP recipients who had moved to Universal Credit on account of a change of circumstances. Transitional protection will be subject to the same rules. Transitional protection rules will stay the same. Announcement here. More on SDP Transitional payments here.
11th September 2020: government announces additional support for renters during winter 2020/2021:
Eviction notice periods to 6 months until at least the end of March 2021
Evictions will not be enforced in local lockdown areas and there will be a "truce on enforcement" over Christmas
£180 million of government funding for Discretionary Housing Payments available for local authorities to support vulnerable renters this year.
More details in the announcement here.
11th September 2020. DWP is hiring "thousands" of Work Coaches. They say they are doubling the numbers. Details from gov.uk here.
11th September 2020: Gov.uk guidance on SSP now includes that SSP can be paid for the 3 day period in which an employee is self-isolating because they’ve been advised to do so by a doctor or healthcare professional before going into hospital for surgery. Guidance on SSP here.
11th September 2020: Homes for England launches £11.5 billion 'Affordable Homes Programme'. This will be delivered over 5 years starting in 2021, and includes a new model of shared ownership, and more supported housing. Government announcement here.
1st September 2020: New self-isolation payment for workers (employed or self-employed) getting UC or WTC who have tested positive for Covid -19 or been asked to self-isolate, and who are unable to work from home. £130 for those who have to self-isolate for 10 days; £182 for those who have to self-isolate for 14 days due to a member of their household developing symptoms; £13 a day (up to max 14 days) for non-household members asked to self-isolate due to being in contact with someone with symptoms.
They must have agreed to comply with the notification from NHS Test and Trace and provided contact details to their local authority. Starts as a trial in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Oldham. Not counted as income for means-tested benefits. Government announcement here.
27th August 2020: Hope for an improvement in the process for claiming IR-ESA when entitled to a SDP in HB. LA Welfare Direct Lite Bulletin 08/2020 announces a new template for ESA depts to send to LAs to confirm SDP in HB award. States it should remove the need for phone calls to LAs from the DWP legacy team and requests made to the claimant to provide this information direct. More on SDP Gateway in this section.
22nd August 2020: Low income families can apply for the Scottish Child Payment (£10 pw for each child under 6) from November 2020. This is delayed 2 months due to Covid-19.Payments will begin at the end of February 2021.
21st August 2020: evictions ban extended 4 weeks. Also new 6 month notice periods to be in place until at least 31 March 2021; and once eviction hearings restart, the judiciary will prioritise the most serious cases including those involving anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse. Government announcement here.
21st August 2020: Payments from the NHS & Social Care Life Assurance scheme for families of NHS and care workers who dies from Covid-19 are treated as capital for Universal Credit and are not disregarded. The payments are £60,000. Article from the Guardian here.
20th August 2020: ADM 18/20
A claim for UC made in GB is effective in NI and vice versa; and so do the residence and presence conditions; and so does time spent in either country; and a decision made in GB can be revised, superseded or heard on appeal in NI or vice versa.
17th August 2020:Second (final) tranche of Self Employed Income Support Scheme opened for applications. HMRC said that by midnight 296,580 claims had been made to the value of£768.9 million. More on the SEISS here.
10th August 2020: To be entitled to UC as a disabled student, the claimant must have been accepted as having a Limited Capability for Work (LCW) or Limited Capability for Work and Work Related Activities (LCWRA) before claiming UC, or if already on UC, before starting the course. Regs here. Guidance here.
More on disabled students on the website here.
10th August 2020: B&Bs / hotels under the 'Everyone In' scheme count as hostels for the purposes of exemption from the Shared Accommodation rate of LHA in private tenancies - clarified in LA Welfare Direct Bulletin 08/2020.
31st July 2020: redundancy payments for people who've been furloughed under the Job Retention scheme will have their redundancy payments based on their normal earnings.
More from gov.uk here.
31st July 2020: DWP confirms it will amend the regulations on Bereavement Support Payment and Widowed Parent's Allowance to include entitlement for cohabiting couples with children.
This follows the case R (Jackson and Simpson) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  EWHC 183 (Admin) Parliamentary answer by Mims Davies here.
More on Bereavement Benefits here.
28th July 2020: Scottish government announces that those previously advised to 'shield' will not have to do so from August 1st.
And they will no longer be eligible for SSP on the basis of shielding. More from Scot.gov here
. This aligns with the ceasing of SSP for shielders in England.
28th July 2020: Therese Coffey responds to requests for benefit improvements from the Social Security Advisory Committee.
In summary Therese Coffey's response was:
DWP has no plans to increase Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income Support.
There are no plans to suspend the Shared Accommodation Rate.
There are no plans to change the Benefit Cap.
The Department’s communications team has reviewed existing signposting and developed additional communications to ensure people understood that making a claim to Universal Credit stops existing legacy benefits. On 3rd June we introduced a new check-through box to our online system to remind claimants to check their eligibility for Universal Credit before initiating a claim.
Letter from SSAC and response here.
24th July 2020: High Court rules that ESA claimants who continue to provide fit notes while waiting for the outcome of a Mandatory Reconsideration having been found fit, should continue to receive ESA in the same way that those awaiting the outcome of an appeal do.
(2020) EWHC 1999 (Admin) here.
24th July 2020: In evidence to the Social Security Select Committee, DWP Permanent Secretary Peter Schofield announced safeguarding measures in the light of the reports of claimants dying because their benefits had been cut.
He said that where a claimant failed to take part in a mandatory intervention such as a work capability assessment, in the past attempts would be made to contact them - including two home visits - but then the benefit would probably be terminated. But now after the 2 home visits there would be a case conference involving other organisations such as the housing provider and/or social services etc.
22nd July 2020: Introduction of 2 week run-on for IS, IB -JSA, and IR -ESA ends when someone claims UC.
Guidance in ADM 15/2020 here.
20th July 2020: CPAG help a mother of 3 who is a UC claimant win an appeal against being Benefit Capped.
She worked 16 hours pw at min wage which should have exempted her from the Benefit Cap, but as she's paid 4 weekly, for 11 monthly assessment periods out of 12 she's treated by UC as earning a 13th of her annual wage rather than a 12th, This means she is artificially 'earning' less than the Benefit Cap threshold. The Judge stated " the disadvantages of allowing the lunar month problem to persist are manifest and serious...... I cannot see how any reasonable Secretary of State could have struck the balance in the way the SSWP has done in this case.". Judgement here
17th July 2020: Government statistics show 5.26 million UC claimants in May 2020, of which 2.33 million were jobseekers.
14th July 2020: "No DSS" requirement by landlords unlawful.
Judgement details from case brought by Shelter here.
14th July 2020: DWP confirms they are testing a 30 minute telephone claimant commitment interview.
In a parliamentary answer
Mims Davis stated "As we re-introduce claimant commitments we are initially conducting these interviews by phone and testing a 30-minute commitment appointment. We will evaluate this testing and as with all policies we will keep this continually under review. Jobcentre Plus offices continue to remain open to help vulnerable claimants who may not be able to access support through the phone or their journal.
13th July 2020: New DWP complaints procedure has fewer stages and involves a triage system to prioritise the most serious complaints/ most vulnerable complainants.
Complaints procedure on gov.uk here
.Our page on what to do about Maladministration here.
9th July 2020: Letter from Neil Couling to landlords confirms APA MPTLs will begin to be paid via the landlord portal, in line with assessment periods, from some time in August.
Landlords will be sent guidance 2 weeks before. Letter here. FAQs here. More on APA managed payments to landlord here.
3rd July 2020: Statement from DWP on their Touchbase magazine - "We don’t want to sanction anyone. These are difficult, uncertain times for many people and we want to do everything we can to help them find work or increase hours, where that is possible for them. No sanction will be used until the claimant has an up-to-date Claimant Commitment in place. After that, a sanction will only be used where a claimant has not provided good reason for meeting the agreed requirements in the Claimant Commitment. Claimants who are shielding, have childcare responsibilities because of COVID restrictions, etc. will have their Claimant Commitment tailored to reflect their circumstances and will not be asked to do anything unreasonable."
2nd July 2020: From 1st August 2020 'shielders' will not be eligible for SSP on the basis of their clinical vulnerability. Parliamentary statement here.
2nd July 2020: From 1st July 2020 restrictions on conditionality begin to be lifted. Mims Davies has confirmed that Claimant commitments must be reasonable and acknowledge the reality of the claimant's local jobs market and personal circumstances. And claimants will be able to make an appointment with their work coach if they can’t get the help they want online or over the phone. Mims' Davies' written answer here. More on conditionality in this section.
2nd July 2020: In a parliamentary answer to a question about the new UC scams involving identity theft, Will Quince stated "Where a claim to universal credit was prompted by fraudulent activity, and a claimant is a victim whose details have been used to make a claim, the Department will consider the reinstatement of legacy benefits if there is clear evidence that the claimant had no involvement in the fraud, and where the claimant wishes us to do so." More on fraudulent UC claims here. Parliamentary answer here.
1st July 2020: Applications now open for the Scottish £250 School Age Payment. It is part of the Best Start Grant, a package of three payments for low income families during the early years of a child’s life and is to help with the costs of a child starting school. The money can be used for anything from school uniform and shoes to a school bag, books or days out.To apply - link here.
29th June 2020: New research (here) finds 1.4 million people living legally in the UK have "No Recourse to Public Funds". This means they cannot claim nearly all benefits - and if they try, they may be seen to be in breach of their immigration status.
22nd June 2020: From 9th July 2020 the Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1987 allow electronic claims for maternity allowance, sure start maternity grants and funeral expenses payments, and allow claimants of these benefits to communicate electronically; and allow any outstanding payments of state pension or of pension credit - following the claimant's death - to be made to qualifying relatives/others without a written application.
The Social Fund and Social Security (Claims and Payments) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI.No.600/2020).
22nd June 2020: DWP sanctions statistics add 100,000 undercounted UC sanctions to data for the 3 years to June 2020. The count increased from 290,758 to 399,758. Statistics here.
12th June 2020: Government allocates an additional £63 million to LAs for welfare support as a result of the pandemic. This could be for food vouchers, cash payments or alternative support. Press release here.
10th June 2020: Benefit claimants needed for research into how the benefits system nationally has responded to Covid 19. The “Welfare at a Social Distance project” is being run by Salford University working with University of Leeds, LSE and the University of Kent. Participants will receive a £20 voucher per 1 hour interview. Leaflet to pass on to any benefit claimants who may be interested in participating.
10th June 2020: Extra £38 million government funding for debt advice for people affected by coronavirus in England; plus £5.9 million for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined. More information here.
2nd June 2020: New Home Office guidance confirms that someone with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) can claim benefits if they risk imminent destitution. Pages 87-93). The guidance states " It is mandatory not to impose, or to lift if already imposed, the condition of no recourse to public funds if an applicant is destitute or at imminent risk of destitution without recourse to public funds." The onus is on the applicant to provide evidence.
30th May 2020: The government has announced that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has been extended for a second and final time. This extension is paid at 70% rather than 80% and will be paid in August covering 3 months- up to £6,570 in total.
29th May 2020: DWP publishes its response to Social Security Advisory Committee's concerns about the effect of the Surplus Earnings rule on those in receipt of Self Employed Income Scheme payments. DWP letter - here - states that not requiring a reclaim was an appropriate measure.
28th May 2020: All EU Settlement Scheme support services and application routes have now all fully reopened. Notification from Home Office here.
27th May 2020: From 28 May 2020, A person who has been notified that they have had contact with a person with coronavirus, and who is self-isolating for 14 days from the latest date on which that contact occurred, or a date specified in the latest notification, will be deemed to be incapable of work for the purposes of Statutory Sick Pay. Amending Regs here.
27th May 2020: Government confirms that free school meal vouchers will continue during the forthcoming half term. Letter from Vicky Ford MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, here. Times Educational Supplement article here.
27th May 2020: : The Scottish Government will provide enhanced statutory sick pay for social care workers who are diagnosed with Covid-19. It will include a payment of £60,000 to a named survivor when a care worker dies without contractual death in service cover. More here.
26th May 2020 Beware new scam purporting to be from gov.uk about Council Tax Reduction Scheme. Info from "Which" magazine here.
22nd May 2020: The Scottish government will make an additional Carers Allowance payment of £230.10 in respect of the period from April to September 2020. More here.
20th May 2020: Upper Tier Tribunal rules that a UC claimant can exercise their appeal rights even if they have submitted no Mandatory Reconsideration Notice with their SSCS1 form to HMCTS, where the DWP have failed to notify the claimant that they must do so. Decision here.
19th May 2020: Additions to section 6 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 allow Ministers to regulate the circumstances in which lower courts and tribunals could depart from the rulings of the Court of Justice of the European Union after the Brexit implementation period. SI 2020 No. 518
18th May 2020: DWP confirms 'shielders' with Post office Card Accounts are being visited by a DWP visiting officer where concerns over getting payments couldn't be resolved over the phone. Written parliamentary answer here. More about alternative payment methods here.
14th May 2020: From yesterday, landlords who have no access to the landlord portal can apply for APA managed payments (MPTL) through the online Direct Rent Payments Service. This is available to both social landlords and private landlords. More on how to apply for APA MPTLs on this page.
13th May 2020: Job Retention scheme (furlough payments) extended to end October. Guardian article with more details here. Effect of payments on benefits, and related issues, on our Covid-19 pages
11th May 2020: Domestic abuse charities can access additional government funding. They will need to bid for a share of the £10 million recently announced by the government. More info here.
11th May 2020: The High Court has ruled that the Home Office policy on no recourse to public funds (NRPF) is in breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
A detailed judgment and order will follow, which will set out the steps the Home Office needs to take, but the judges said they were not ordering any immediate change to Home Office policy. The Home Office will still be able to impose NRPF “in the normal run of cases” but will in future have to lift the condition, not just when the person is currently destitute but also when they “but will imminently become so without access to public funds”. More details from Project17.
7th May 2020: If a claimant can't get their benefit from a Paypoint outlet because it's run out of cash they can use the Paypoint storefinder to identify nearby alternative Paypoint outlets.
Call i-movo on 0207 960 2570. The claimant should leave a message that provides contact details and they will receive a call back. Please note that the i-movo telephone number is for use only when outlets report that they can’t or won’t provide cash.
7th May 2020: Vulnerable and isolated people including new parents, the homeless, unpaid carers, young people and cancer patients, could soon benefit from a range of innovative digital solutions.
Gov.uk announcement here.
6th May 2020: HMRC has announced that people working reduced hours due to coronavirus, or being furloughed, will not have their tax credits payments affected if they are still employed or self-employed
as they will be treated as working their normal hours until the Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme close, even if they are not using either scheme. They do not need to contact HMRC about this change. Announcement here.
5th May 2020: DWP will stop any new benefit and pension claimants from using the Post Office Card Account (POCA) from 11 May.
Announced in this statement
from Therese Coffey.
Note current claimants with a POCA can still use the POCA until DWP's contract with Post Office ends in November 2021. More on payments of UC for claimants without bank accounts on this page.
4th May 2020: Upper Tribunal confirms date of claim for UC is when claimant hits "submit" - not any time before this. GDC v SSWP(UC) 2020(UKUT) 108 (AAC)
4th May 2020: DWP calls to claimants will no longer show up as ‘Withheld Number’ . Instead, the DWP number 0800 232 635 will be shown.
29th April 2020: DWP finally state they are suspending Third Party Deductions from Universal Credit
(up to now the information has not been 'official' and information to partnership managers / housing providers has been sporadic, and claimants were left in the dark).
From DWP External Affairs dept:
" For information
An unprecedented number of Universal Credit applications have been made since March. The Department has rightly prioritised the processing of these claims to ensure people get the support they need during the coronavirus outbreak.
This means prioritising our resources and as a result of this we’ve made a decision to pause deductions from existing UC claimants, on behalf of third parties. This includes deductions taken on behalf of landlords relating to rent arrears and service charge arrears. This activity has been paused for one month only, while we work through the huge number of new claims. All deductions will resume on 10 May as normal.
The Government has also announced measures to protect tenants and landlords affected by coronavirus, including extending the three-month mortgage holiday for Buy to Let mortgages. Further guidance can be found on Gov.uk.
During this temporary pause, we would kindly ask you to show understanding and not take further action
28th April 2020: Some students - those who would be entitled to UC were it not for their studies being incompatible with work-related requirements- can claim during the Covid-19 situation.
Will Quince in a parliamentary answer said "Students who do not ordinarily have entitlement to Universal Credit (UC) and who receive a maintenance loan or grant through the student finance system, will continue to be able to draw upon this financial support until the end of this academic year.
Those who do not receive student finance and who would ordinarily not have entitlement to UC, such as those undertaking a part-time course which would otherwise not be considered as compatible with the requirements for them to look for and be available for work, will have entitlement to UC. We have disapplied UC and both legacy and new style JSA work preparation, work search and availability requirements and related sanctions. This will initially be for a three-month period. After three months, consideration will be given as to whether a further extension is required." Info on students and UC in this section of the website.
23rd April 2020: New government info on benefits & pensions help for people who have difficulty using phone, letters, internet etc because of health or disability conditions. Info from gov.uk here. Our page on 'reasonable adjustments' here.
23rd April 2020: Post Office & DWP set up posted benefits for 'shielding' UC claimants. These are people told to stay home by NHS for 12 weeks because they're high risk due to their medical condition. Initially this is only available to claimants who are paid through Post Office Card Accounts. When notified by DWP of claimants who require a cash delivery, the Post Office will ensure cash is sent to their home using Royal Mail Special Delivery and that it arrives by 9pm the following day. Details here. More about shielding here.
23rd April 2020: Scottish government set up "Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund" including grants of £2000 for those individuals ineligible for SEISS (Self-Employed Income Support Scheme) because they were not in business by tax year 2019/20. Payments should be made by early May. Announcement here.
22nd April 2020: "Right to Rent checks" declared not against Human Rights by Court of Appeal. Gov.uk info on these checks including who has to do them here.
20th April 2020: New style ESA (ie contributory ESA) can now be claimed online. More info on ESA on these pages of the website.
20th April 2020: Job Retention scheme open to employers to apply from today. The scheme has been extended to end of June 2020, and is no available to employees who were on the PAYE system by 19th March 2020 (previously 28th February). More on the scheme on this page.
20th April 2020: Deaf UC claimants who use British Sign language can now contact DWP via a video relay service. DWP staff will receive a phone call from an interpreter who will translate into BSL. There is no need to book the service in advance and the conversation can take place in real time. Press release here.
17th April 2020: Government publishes Q&As on Council Tax hardship fund. Letter here.
17th April 2020: Devolved benefits in Scotland have relaxed deadlines if the claimant can explain that their claim was delayed due to Covid-19. More from scot.gov here.
17th April 2020: Updated DHP funding allocation. Check the funding amount for your local authorities here. More on DHPs here.
16th April 2020: SSP legislation changed to allow those who are 'shielding' as well as those who are 'self-isolating' to be entitled to SSP. Someone is shielding where they've been told by the NHS to stay at home for 12 weeks because they are in a high risk group due to their health condition. Legislation here.
16th April 2020: UC claimants who've accessed their Government Gateway account in the last 12 months (eg to notify changes in Tax Credits) can now use the Government Gateway to verify their ID. Press release here.
15th April 2020: HMRC says that the Furlough scheme portal opens for claims on 20 April with first payments being made 10 days later
Future claims will be paid within four to six days
Applicants will access the system using their current government gateway login
Further guidance will be issued by HMRC week commencing 13 April explaining how to use the system
Following the initial backdated claims, claims can be made no more than 14 days before payrolls are run but will be accepted for the different pay periods
12th April 2020: DWP says "Don't call us - we'll call you". UC claimants will be phoned by DWP staff if info is needed, and staff will be working over the Easter holiday. They are proactively making calls to people who've not been able to get through. Press release here.
9th April 2020: Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland can continue to provide the "Help to Claim" service for UC claimants during 2020/21. The government is providing a further £39 million funding.
9th April 2020: During Covid-19 outbreak parents of newborns can claim Child Benefit without registering the child's birth first. More from gov.uk here. First time parents can claim Child benefit on form CH2 online; those already on Child Benefit can notify HMRC of the new baby online or ring 0300 200 3100.
9th April 2020: Work and Pensions Committee are seeking evidence from both organisations and individuals on how Covid-19 is affecting benefit claimants. More info and how to respond here. Deadline to respond 16th April.
9th April 2020: £750 million package of support for charities announced by Chancellor.
More from gov.uk here.
8th April 2020: During the Covid-19 outbreak prisoners on temporary release are eligible for Housing Benefit,Universal Credit, Income Support. JSA, ESA and Pension Credit.
Under normal rules people on temporary release still count as being in prison. legislation here.
7th April 2020
: Social security timescales in Scotland have been extended where a delay is as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
More from gov.scot here.
1st April 2020: DWP is suspending the recovery of debt until further notice, according to Information received from a Partnership Manager. This includes all benefit-related overpayments, Social Fund loans and Tax Credit debts.The recovery of Advances by deduction from Universal Credit payments will continue, and the list below does not mentiondeductions for fines, rent arrears etc.
The DWP have stated:
"What this means-
Do not refer new overpayments from Universal Credit and Legacy benefits.
Do not refer benefit arrears to Debt Management to offset against overpayments. Customers will be able to request that arrears are paid to them.
Deductions from Universal Credit and Legacy for benefit overpayments, Social Fund loans and Tax Credit debts managed by Debt Management will be suspended.
Local Authorities will suspend referral of Housing Benefit overpayments.
The transfer of Tax Credit debt from HMRC has already been suspended.Recovery from estates will temporarily cease."
Press release on paused recovery of benefit overpayments here.
1st April 2020: Scottish Government increases council tax reduction earnings disregard by £20 to £17.10 to take account of the temporary (12 mth) increase in working tax credit basic element due to Covid-19 measures. Legislation here.
1st April 2020: Scottish government will delay the introduction of the devolved disability benefits- the Child Disability Payment and the Scottish Personal Independence Payment for an indefinite period in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. However they will prioritise delivery of Carers Allowance Supplement and Scottish Child Payment. statement from scot.gov here.
31st March 2020: Scottish Welfare Fund will not be restricted to 3 payments in a 12 month period during the Covid-19 outbreak. Parliamentary answer here.
31st March 2020: Migration pilot in Harrogate suspended during Covid-19 outbreak. DWP letter to stakeholders here. Our pages on managed migration here.
31st March 2020: Yet another Covid-19 scam to make your tenants and customers aware of. This was kindly forwarded to us by Stockport Homes. link here.
31st March 2020: Home office guidelines on applications the the EU Settlement Scheme during Covid-19. Note the EU Settlement Resolution Centre (for queries and certain forms of application) is not taking phone calls but people can email via this contact form. Home Office message here. More on the EU Settlement Scheme on these pages.
30th March 2020: Some you may work or volunteer for a small charity. We've been sent this link to Charities Aid Foundation who can provide a "rapid response fund" to small charities to help communities affected by Covid-19. You might find it useful.
30th March 2020: Home secretary says domestic abuse victims can still leave home despite Covid 19 measures: "anyone who is at risk of, or experiencing, domestic abuse, is still able to leave and seek refuge. Refuges remain open, and the police will provide support to all individuals who are being abused - whether physically, emotionally, or otherwise ". BBC article here. Safety tips from the Charity Refuge here.
30th March 2020: Guidance on tribunal procedure during the Covid-19 outbreak from the Courts and Tribunal Judiciary here.
29th March 2020: The Social Security Coronavirus (further measures) Regulations 2020 published - here. See our Covid-19 pages for details of benefit changes.
28th March 2020:
DWP have issued this warning this week about a fraudulent website on Facebook. You may wish to warn your tenants / clients.
There is a new Fraudulent website that is going round on Facebook saying:
"For your free £258 award from the Government to assist you during the Coronavirus outbreak, just enter your bank details".
The pages look authentic as a real Government website,which may encourage people to input their personal information/bank details.
Please remind your tenants and clients not to share their bank account details on any ‘possible’ Government offers on Social Media as that is not how Government Departments deliver their business. DWP Fraud teams & Police are aware of these scam websites and in the process of investigating and closing them down.
And note this warning from HMRC, in relation to the self employed income support scheme: "If someone texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC, saying that you can claim financial help or are owed a tax refund, and asks you to click on a link or to give information such as your name, credit card or bank details, it is a scam."
- DWP, along with many other government departments, are sometimes targeted with fraudulent activity. Please be vigilant and report any suspicious activity.
- Do not share your personal information with anyone else, as this may be used for fraudulent activity.
- Protecting your personal information can help reduce your risk of identity theft.
- If you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the DWP and doubt their legitimacy - please do not share your personal information. Report any suspicious contact immediately.
- Criminal gangs are targeting people to obtain their personal information. If in doubt, please do not share your personal information. Report any suspicious contact immediately.
- If someone approaches you claiming to be from DWP, always ask for ID.
- Report any suspicious contact immediately on www.actionfraud.police.uk or phone 0300 123 2040.
27th March 2020: Chancellor announces help for self-employed - from June. he stated "The government will pay self-employed people, who have been adversely affected by the Coronavirus, a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month. This scheme will be open for at least three months – and I will extend it for longer if necessary. You’ll be able to claim these grants and continue to do business. " Details on this page.
25th March 2020: Corona Virus Bill passed by parliament - Corona Virus Act here. For our summary of the Act;s changes to benefits see our briefing 03/2020.
25th March 2020: Government encourages local authorities to give an extra £150 (annual) to people on Council Tax Support. From Covid-19 Hardship Measures guidance: "The Government’s strong expectation is that billing authorities will provide all recipients of working age local council tax support during the financial year 2020-21 with a further reduction in their annual council tax bill of £150, using their discretionary powers to reduce the liability of council tax payers outside of their formal LCTS scheme design.
There should be no need for any recipient of LCTS to make a separate claim for a reduction under this scheme. The billing authority should assess who is eligible for support from the hardship fund and automatically rebill those council taxpayers."
March 2020: Families eligible for free school meals can (from today) be given meals, or vouchers for local shops, while self-isolating or while the school has been closed. Schools can order vouchers from the shops, to be emailed or printed and posted to the families. This is being funded by the Department of Education. More from gov.uk here.
19th March 2020: benefits uprating legislation issued yesterday. Statutory instrument here. Note that the uprating of carers allowance does not apply to carers resident in Scotland as the Scottish government are legislating separately on this. Your new benefits rates leaflets will be ready soon - off to the printer's today!
19th March 2020. From today people with prepayment meters who are unable to top-up their meters will be able to speak to their energy suppliers about options to keep them supplied. Options include having a 3rd party topping up, being sent a pre-loaded top-up card, a discretionary fund. Government announcement here.
19th March 2020: The government will shortly legislate to prevent evictions. Social and private landlord will not be able to evict tenants for at least a 3 month period. Guidance will also be issued to landlords asking them to show compassion to tenants. Government announcement here.
18th March 2020: Emergency Coronavirus Bill presented to House of Commons. Government announcement here.
16th March 2020: Face to face medical assessments suspended for 3 months for all sickness and disability benefits with effect from tomorrow (17th March). This affects current and new claimants of PIP, ESA, Industrial Injuries Benefits and those on UC with (or seeking) LCW or LCWRA. those with scheduled appointments will be contacted and offered either telephone or paper based assessments. Gov.uk announcement here. More on LCW and LCWRA elements here.
16th March 2020. "Genuine chance of being engaged in employment" test for retaining worker status past 6 months found to be unlawful. Caselaw here. Retaining worker status - more info here.
12th March 2020: Rights Advice Scotland submits proposals to Social Security Committee to tackle low benefit take-up . This follows DWP's report in November 2017 showing that up to £20 billion in means-tested benefits were unclaimed across the UK in 2016-17. Submission here.
11th March 2020: Budget includes announcements of benefit changes. Some are temporary measures for the duration of th Covid 19 outbreak, Brief summary here. The ESA and UC (Coronavirus Disease) Regs 2020 here.
9th March 2020: Government announces rule changes to prevent pension age claimants having a gap in entitlement when moving from UC to Pension Credit, where they haven't made an advance claim for PC. Therese Coffey parliamentary statement of 5th March here. Note the regs will change later in the year but she stated that it is "already in place on an extra statutory basis" . Our briefing 02/2020 on a number of problems for Pension Age claimants on this page.
9th March 2020: Government issues advice to Universal Credit claimants about the Corona virus. Job Centres are expected to take self-isolation into account, but claimants must notify the work coach if they cannot attend an appointment or keep to work related requirements or visit Job Centre for any reason. Guidance here.
9th March 2020: Statutory Sick Pay to be paid from day one for self-isolating Corona virus victims. Announcement here.
9th March 2020: Job Centre Easter closures. Job Centres will be closed (including phone lines) on Good Friday (10th April) and Easter Monday (13th April). Any claimants whose benefit is due on these dates will receive their payment on Thursday 9th April.
5th March 2020: Planned Surplus Earnings threshold change from £2500 to £300 will be delayed until 1st April 2021. Parlamentary written statement here. Our info on the Surplus Earnings rule here.
5th March 2020: Immigration Bill presented to parliament. Bill and explanatory notes on gov.uk here. Information on EU Settlement scheme on these pages.
2nd March 2020. From 2nd March 2020, the DWP will put back onto legacy benefits any UC claimants who should not have been able to claim because they were entitled to a SDP at the time or within the month before claiming. HB Circular A3/2020 describes the process and has a link to an example referral form (from DWP to LA) - here. More on the SDP Gateway in this section.
2nd March 2020. CPAG's "Early Warning System" are asking anyone helping claimants with Mandatory Reconsiderations to complete a short survey on how smoothly (or otherwise) the MR process has been going for them. Link to survey here.
27th February 2020. As many as 70,000 underpaid ESA claimants may never receive what they are due, unless they contact DWP themselves. DWP have said they will write 4 times and ring wqice before abandoning efforts- but these might be old contact details. If you think someone has missed out from not having additional premiums included in their IR-ESA when transferred from Incapacity Benefit they need to contact ESA asap. More on IR-ESA in this section. DWP report on the issue here.
20th February 2020: Council Tax relief (up to 3 months) and cash help (in certain circumstances) for people affected by recent flooding. Info from gov.uk here.
20th February 2020: New guide from Money Advice Trust to help creditors support people with mental health problems. Here.
18th February 2020: "In Work Progression Pilot" extended a further 12 mths to 19/02/21. The pilot applies to UC claimants who are not earning to their full potential. More on the pilot on this page.
14th February 2020: Materials to help publicise Pension Credit now published on gov.uk here. Our info page on Pension Credit here. Don't forget UC claimants reaching Pension Age need to make an Advance claim for Pension Credit to avoid a gap in income - more here.
12th February 2020: DWP confirms they WILL put claimants back on IS/HB/IR-ESA/IB-JSA where they were allowed to claim UC when they shouldn't have, because they failed the SDP Gateway . There was some concern that the availability of SDP transitional payments (which pay less than what was lost) would mean they would stop doing this. . Freedom of Information Response stating this here. More on SDP Gateway here
11th February 2020: StepChange charity launches new online advice & info service for people in persistent debt with credit cards.
10th February 2020: A High Court judge has ruled that it was contrary to Human Rights to prevent an unmarried bereaved parent from getting the higher rate bereavement support payment.
Judgment: Jackson & Ors v SSWP  EWHC 183 here
.The government will need to change the regulations; note they have not yet 18 months after a similar ruling) amended the Widowed Parents Allowance, which many families still receive. More on Bereavement Support Payment here.
7th February 2020: Benefits uprating for 2020/21 published in DWP circular for LAs: A1/2020: here.
3rd February 2020: National Audit Office wants claimants and those involved in supporting them to provide evidence of claimants' first experiences of claiming UC
In particular, it wants to know-
30th January 2020: Court of Appeal upholds High Court judgments that different treatment of severely disabled UC claimants who migrate to UC naturally rather than manage migrated, and for those who have to claim UC because of moving home to a different LA as opposed to those who move within an LA and so stay on legacy benefits, is discriminatory under Human Rights and therefore unlawful.
- the main difficulties in making a claim and getting to the first payment, and whether the DWP has made progress in addressing these issues;
- why some claimants delay making a claim for universal credit;
- whether advances and the 2 week transition to UC housing [ayments help claimants over the 5-week wait;
- how effective is government support for claimants going through the initial claim process.
Deadline to respond 19th February. Online survey here.
3rd February 2020: Government's latest estimate for full roll-out of UC to be by the end of 2024.
Managed Migration here
. Transitional Protection for those manage migrated to UC here
. SDP Transitional Protection here
29th January 2020: Members of the European Parliament have backed the terms of the UK's departure from the EU by 621 votes to 49.
Guardian article here
. Post Brexit issues for benefit claimants on our website here.
23rd January 2020: The EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill has been passed without the 5 proposed amendments by the House of Lords,
including the right of child refugess to be reunited with their parents in the UK. The Bill will receive Royal Assent in a couple of days. More on "Post Brexit" on this page.
23rd January 2020: Annual Rent increases.
DWP have said that landlords will not be able to send a schedule of rent increases in bulk to DWP in April 2020, so landlords will need to send rent increase letters to claimants as they will need to do it themselves. More information on this page. More on claimant notification of change in circumstance on this page.
23rd January 2020: The Post Office Card Account (POca) will no longer be an option for UC claimants from Nov 2021. There are currently around 1 million customers still paid by POca who will need to be converted to mainstream bank accounts or migrated to a replacement service. There will be no new POca customers from 1st Feb 2020 so they will need to either have a bank account or Credit Union Accounts or use the Payment Exception Service: more on this page. DWP information slides on end of POca here. Parliamentary ststement on end of contract here.
20th January 2020: The Guardian reports a rise in people turning to benevolent funds and charities for assistance. Report here. If you have a tenant/customer who's struggling because their benefits don't cover their needs, it's worth taking a look at this useful list of benevolent funds and charities from the Association of Charitable Organisations here. And take a look at the "Money Matters" section of our website here.
17th January 2020: Advance claims being accepted for new Scottish Child Payment (£10 per week). The payment, for low income families with a child under six, will not start until later in 2020. More from .scot.gov here. Claimants will be able to apply for the Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods at the same time.
15th January 2020: House of Lords Constitution Committee wants the EU Withdrawal Bill to have a clause removed that raises "severe constitutional concerns". The clause allows courts to reinterpret CJEU caselaw's interpretation on EU law that will be retained in UK law after Brexit. More here. More on Post Brexi here.
14th January 2020: From April 2020, LHA rates to be increased by 1.7% (in line with CPI) up to a max of the 30th percentile. LHA caps also to be increased by 1.7%.
Plus an extra £40 million in DHPS "to help affordability in the private rented sector ". Parliamentary statement here; Statutory Instrument here.Info on LHA on our website here (UC) and here (HB).
13th January 2020: £3 million fund to help the homeless access benefits, find work, secure accommodation and additional support. Job Centre staff will work with other agencies and charities, speaking to people sleeping rough. More from gov.uk here.
10th January 2020: In HB Urgent Bulletin U1/2020 the DWP advises HB offices on how to deal with disabled claimants who'd appealed that they were discriminated by the bedroom tax before the rules were changed due to the Carmichaels' and Rutherfords' appeals. It confirms that because of the recent judgement (RR v SSWP) people who had appealed and had their appeals "stayed" awaiting the judgement can now be paid the HB owing to them, and that if they'd received a DHP while waiting, this cannot be offset against the HB to be paid out. Bulletin here. More on Human Rights and the Bedroom Tax on the website here. Bedroom tax caselaw here.
10th January 2020: The Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman has published a Housing Benefit Focus Report looking at particular errors and bad practice by HB Offices in 2018-19. It details specific concerns, particularly around revision requests/ appeals, and overpayments. Report here. More on challenging HB decisions on this section of the website.
10th January 2020: The EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill was passed by a majority of 99 of the House of Commons on 9th January 2020.
However it still has to go to the House of Lords before receiving Royal Assent. There is therefore still the possibility of amendments to the Bill.
8th January 2020: House of Commons votes against proposed clause in EU Withdrawal Agreement that would have allowed EEA natonals & family members a right of appeal to HMCTS against refused settled status. Instead they will need to have recourse to the new Independent Monitoring Authority (IMA). They also voted against 2 other clauses - automatic permanent residence status for those who've resided in the UK 5 years, and reduced or waived British citizenship fees for those EEA nationals & family members who could not afford them. Hansard report here. More on the EU Settlement scheme here.
7th January 2020: A reminder that Housing Benefit Offices are continuing to make mistakes. Haringey Council's HB department have been criticised by the Ombudsman for a catalogue of errors that left a family with a disabled child homeless. Two child limit incorrectly applied; underlying entitlement not given in calculating £8000 overpayment; case not referred to appeal tribunal. Article here. Read our HB overpayment section here. Read about the 2 child limit here.
23rd December 2019: DWP office and phone line opening hours for Christmas and New Year - click here.
23rd December 2019: New "Housing Queries Routeway" giving appropriate online pages and phone numbers for landlord's housing questions, now available on the "What landlords need to do" section of "UC and landlords" gov.uk guidance.
18th December 2019: DWP have made improvements to the online UC account. Housing Costs Element is broken down to show non-dep deductions, bedroom tax, LHA rate where applicable; Advance Payments breakdown given; payment date/amount of any "more frequent than monthly" payments; new blank statement of award shows from start of claim so claimants can check if correct Elements awarded; new "preparation journey" for ID verification; breakdown of debts & deductions (but not amounts - only agents can see this - DWP working on it).
17th December 2019: DWP have started a small scale trial of APA managed payments to RSLs in line with the Monthly Assessment Period. Landlords will receive the housing cost element atthe same time as the tenant gets their payment. Landlords will receive a daily payment schedule through the UC portal.
If the trial is successful it will be launched nationwide in early 2020. More on managed payments on this page.
13th December 2019: Some IR-ESA claimants whose HB has ended are being sent letters saying their ESA will end because they are required to claim UC. If ESA ends before UC begins the claimant won't get the equivalent LCW or LCWRA element in their UC. Please email us if you come across any of these letters. More on moving from ESA to UC here.
9th December 2019: Those of you involved in rent arrears, court action, or debt advice might want to pass on this warning to customers about fraudsters posing as bailiffs and court enforcement officers. People are being told they owe money and are asked to transfer funds into a bank account. Gov.uk warning here.
6th December 2019: LA Welfare Direct Bulletin 12 /2019 requests LAs to act promptly in response to contact from DWP re claimants in receipt of SDP. Bulletin on this page. More on SDP Gateway here.
2nd December 2019: proposed benefit rates for 2020/21 published - here.
2nd December 2019: HMRC issue a Bulletin to Employers reminding them that where they pay early (eg over Christmas), they should report the normal payday to HMRC for RTI purposes. Info on UC problems with 2 wages paid in the same monthly assessment period on this page and on wages paid early on this page.
1st December 2019: ADM 21/19: Confirms a self-employed EEA national, who has to cease trading due to later stages of maternity/ early months after giving birth, is as entitled to be treated as retaining workere status as someone in the same position who was employed. Maximum period 52 weeks- from 11 weeks before birth to 41 weeks after, ADM Memos on this page. More on these rights on this page.
18th November 2019: Lancashire County Council's Provision of Household Essentials Service provides essential furniture and electrical items to those individuals/families who are experiencing a major upheaval or adverse event and who do not have access to sufficient income or funds to meet their immediate needs.
Lancs CC wants providers and potential providers in Lancashire to provide their views on the provision of this service before deciding if and how to recommission the service so it's really important to respond to their questionnaire if you have used it or might need it for your clients in the future. Deadline 3rd Dec 2019. Link here: https://lccsecure.lancashire.gov.uk/corporate/questionnaires/runQuestionnaire.asp?qid=801336
15th November 2019: Supreme Court Judgment rules that secondary legislation can be "disapplied" (ie ignored) where it conflicts with the Human Rights Act.
The case was to do with whether someone who couldn't share a bedroom because of disabilities should be affected by the bedroom tax (Carmichael case) but the implications go much further. (NB Reg B13 of the HB regs 2006 was amended in 2017 to allow a bedroom used for this reason to be counted as a bedroom, but the amendment wasn't retrospective to decisions before the change.) Judgment here.
12th November 2019: The CPAG "Early Warning System" need any notably good or bad experience you've had of UC mandatory reconsiderations, in preparation for a meeting with DWP senior staff next week.They’re particularly interested in:
Difficulties getting an MR accepted
Delays in deciding MRs
Examples of the DWP refusing to acknowledge or action request for MR
Examples of MR decisions not being enacted
Difficulties finding out about the right to challenge a DWP decision though MR
11th November 2019: The Social Security (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2019) will be in force from Brexit day to ensure that the rights to Attendance Allowance, PIP, DLA, severe disablement allowance, carer’s benefits and social fund payments.of third country nationals, lawfully living and working in Northern Ireland under Trade Partnership Agreements, are protected.
6th November 2019: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a number of formal complaints made about the DWP's Universal Credit adverts in the Metro, Metro Online and Mail Online. ASA ruling here.
4th November 2019: Social Security upratings for 2020/2021 confirmed by Therese Coffey in a written statement - here. Universal Credit, IB-JSA, IR-ESA, Income Support, Housing Benefit, Guarantee Pension Credit and disability related benefits to rise by 1.7%; basic and new state pensions to rise by 3.9%. Full uprating details to be published in due course.
4th November 2019: Tax Credits, Child Benefit and Guardian's Allowance upratings to 2020/21 announced by Rishi Sunak in a written statement to the Commons- here. Child Benefit and Guardian's Allowance, and some parts of Tax Credits to rise by 1.7% but there is to be no change to the maximum rate of the childcare element, the family element, the withdrawal rate and the income disregards.
1st November 2019: The cold weather payment period runs from 1st November to 31st March. Details including who's entitled here.
1st November 2019: The Social Security, Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 will be in force from Brexit day to ensure that the rights to Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Attendance Allowance, PIP, DLA, severe disablement allowance, carer’s benefits and winter fuel payments.of third country nationals, lawfully living and working in the UK under Trade Partnership Agreements, are protected.
1st November 2019: European Court of Human Rights overturns Bedroom tax decision by Supreme Court. In a 5:2 split, J.D & A v the UK ruled that a woman with an adapted safe room in a Sanctuary Scheme was not to have that counted as a "spare bedroom".
22nd October 2019: From 27th November 2019 new Regulations will change the Universal Credit maximum sanction period - for a third or subsequent high level offence - from 1095 days (3 years) to 182 days (6 months). More on this page.
21st October 2019: Applications open for Scottish Young Carers Grant. The grant is for carers aged 16,17, and 17 who spend at least 16 hours a week caring for a disabled person. More info and how to apply here.
16th October 2019: DWP guidance (but not legislation) changes upper UC deduction limit from 40% of standard allowance to 30% of standard allowance. Note this only applies to certain deductions, and as the regs haven't been changed, it leaves open the question of what would happen if someone currently having deductions at the higher rate requests a reduction to 30%. More on deductions on this page. Amended DWP guidance here.
15th October 2019: An Upper Tier Tribunal decision means some PIP claimants may be more likely to be awarded Daily Living Component. ADM 19/2019 explains who this applies to and from when. Summary and link on this page. The DWP have said they will carry out re-assessments for those PIP claimants likely to receive more support as a result.
14th October 2019: Public Law Project need examples of the DWP are calling claimants apparently putting pressure to accept ‘offers’ that are lower than statutory entitlement.
If you have come across this please email Sara directly: firstname.lastname@example.org. (About Public Law Project: here.) We'd like to know too: email@example.com/uk.
13th October 2019: From 31 October 2019, arrears of / compensation payments for non-payment of Maternity Allowance and of Armed Forces Independence Payment are disregarded as capital for IS. IB-JSA, IR-ESA and UC.
13th October 2019: From 26 November 2019, there will be changes to the Council Tax Reduction (Scotland) Regs:
The 2 child limit won't affect the applicable amount,
(SDP) transitional payments, the Windrush Compensation Scheme and the Young Carer Grant Payments will be disregarded as income & capital,
Reimbursements of missing maternity allowance payments (04/15-07/17) will not be counted as capital.
Amendment regs here.
1st October 2019: In DWP's Touchbase magazine, DWP state they have "made improvements to communications to Universal Credit claimants. This will ensure that when claimants are asked to attend interviews the reason for the interview and the consequences of failing to attend are clear.
The outcome of every appointment is now recorded in the claimant’s journal. Where appointments are booked to verify evidence, the purpose of the appointment and details of the specific evidence required will be will also be made clear. "
1st October 2019: Warm Home Discount scheme (£140 discount on energy bills) for 2019/20 goes live. Those on Guarantee Pension Credit will receive a letter by mid December saying whether they must contact the Warm Home Discount Team (by end Feb 2020) or if their energy supplier will discount their bills automatically. Others on low income only eligible if their supplier is listed here.
26th September 2019: RNIB providing training to Job Centre staff across the UK to help them understand the difficulties faced by people with impaired sight. More here.
18th September 2019: To help prevent advance payment scams, DWP will only issue New Claim Advances once ID has been verified. UC Guidance now states:
If you apply for an advance by speaking to your work coach or calling the universal credit helpline, you (and your partner if you have one) will need to:
explain why you need an advance
provide bank account details where the advance should be paid
have had your identity checked at a jobcentre'.
6th September 2019: Delay in system for landlords to bulk notify of rent changes to UC. Testing has only just begun into this process which was supposed to start in time for April 2019 rent changes. Landlord Engagement Newsletter August 2019. More on rent changes on this page.
5th September 2019: Amendment to previous announcement about UC claimants' ability to report childcare costs within 30 days of end of MAP in which they were paid. In the DWP's 'Touchbase' magazine: "If a claimant reports childcare costs later than the assessment period in which they are paid, they can be considered for reimbursement when, with good reason, they are not able to report those costs within their assessment period."
5th September 2019: £106 million package 'Plan for DWP excellence' announced: This includes:
£40 million DHPs for the private rented sector in England and Wales
£36 million DHPs to improve application processes and decision making, and for a new independent Serious Case Panel
£7 million to extend eligibility for Access to Work to internships for disabled people and to increase Job Centre advisor support for young people with special education needs in schools for young people with special educational needs
£23 million for support for vulnerable claimants and people with complex needs migrating to UC, outreach work for the homeless, support for ex arned forces to enter work through 'Armed Forces champions'.
HM Treasury report here.
3rd September 2019: DWP statistics reveal that by 29.08.19 £16, 358, 370 has been paid in lump sums an ongoing awards to UC claimants who would have failed the SDP Gateway but who claimed UC before the Gateway was brought in. 6315 claims paid at an average of £2160. Gov.uk report here. More on SDP Gateway here.
28th August 2019: Letter dated 27th August 2019 from Neil Couling (Director General, Universal Credit) to Stakeholders about the Move to UC pilot.
Includes template Migration Notice which follows discussion with claimant at the Job Centre. More about Managed Migration and the pilot on these pages.
27th August 2019: BBC Report Alex Homer would like to speak to a claimant who has appealed in person at a First Tier Tribunal, to discuss their experiences. If you know anyone who would like to do this, email firstname.lastname@example.org. More on Appeals on this page (HB) and this page (UC) and this section (ESA) and this page (PIP).
18th August 2019: Home Office report one million EU nationals living in the UK have been granted either settled status or presettled status. That still leaves many not yet applied - deadline 30.06.2021 or 31.12.2020 if it's a No Deal Brexit. Settled status enables an EU national (or a family member) to claim benefits; presettled status does not. More here.
7th August 2019: DWP have tweeted a video warning people about the Advance Payment scam. It includes a short video advising them to ring Action Fraud on 03001232040. However it might be advisable to go straight to the police as well. Twitter feed here. More on the scam here.
7th August 2019: Jobseekers whose disability caused communication difficulties can apply for Access to Work money to pay for a communication support worker to accompany them to a job interview. Information from gov.uk here.
2nd August 2019: Guidance (ADM 14/19)
confirms that the Supreme Court Judgement SSWP v Gubeladze  UKSC31 (that the extension of the Worker Registration scheme -for A8 nationals - from-1.05.09 to 30.04.11 was unlawful) means that EEA workers should not be refused a right to reside on grounds that they weren't registered for work in this period. This is retrospective for decisions which have been stayed or appeals which have been stockpiled, but only as far back as the Judgement date 30.01.15.
31st July 2019: Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) are collating information on UC claimant conditionality- they are concerned that people are subject to the wrong conditionality, not being aware that the claimant commitments should be tailored to take account of personal circumstances. There are 3 questionnaires- one is for parents, one for carers and one is for people with disabilities (see links below, together with a document explaining to the claimant what CPAG will do with their information, and their rights in respect of that information -.you must ask claimants to read this before sending their questionnaire. If any of your tenants/ customers would be willing to complete these, please send them to LDalton@cpag.org.uk. If they are willing to supply a copy of their claimant commitment that's even better. Parent questionnaire. Carer questionnaire. Disability questionnaire. Mandatory explanatory document.
28th July 2019: National Audit Office looking into under and overpayments of UC, Carers Allowance & Pension Credit. NAWRA is collecting your case studies for the NAO. Do you have any cases that might help with answering the following issues: what is going wrong and why; is it something the DWP should have spotted eg something that was within the Department’s knowledge such as cessation of a disability benefit?; any other action the DWP could be taking to minimise overpayments/underpayments; is something going wrong with an interdepartmental system such as RTI? Please send to Daphne@nawra.org.uk.
23rd July 2019: Regulations laid to deal with: transitional protection for those on UC who'd had a Severe Disability Premium before claiming UC; Managed migration pilot; transitional payments / DHPs for those managed migrated who are worse off; changes to who's affected by the Minimum Income Floor; 2 week run-on for IS, IB JSA, IR ESA claimants moving onto UC.
More detail on this page.
The Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 here.
23rd July 2019: National Audit office reports "material levels of fraud and error" in Tax Credits over year 2018/19. Report here.
23rd July 2019: Average time for PIP decisions over last 12 months is 14 weeks. Hansard report here.
23rd July 2019: new Children's Funeral Fund for England begins today. More info on this page.
22nd July 2019: Amber Rudd announces regulations for the managed migration pilot (in Harrogate) will be laid today.
The regulations will also deal with transitional payments for those who have lost out through loss of the Severe Disability Premium when they claimed UC. Back payments will be made for those already on; plus transitional protection payments going forward are to be paid at up to £405 per month (previously proposed £360 a month maximum).
From 2021 (no month given) the SDP Gateway will be removed and recipients of the SDP will move onto UC if they have a change in circumstances that would mean they need to claim UC.
Hansard record of her speech and responses) here.
More on SDP Gatewayhere. More on managed migration pilot here.
18th July 2019: Home Office reports 900,000 EU nationals living in UK have applied for settled status. Report here.But that still leaves about 2.8 million who haven't! Time is running out. More info on these pages.
17th July 2019: Scottish government to introduce an advocacy service to help disabled people claim benefits. More here.
17th July 2019: The Commission on Social Security UK is looking for ideas about what would make a better benefits system. If you would like to help complete this online form Call for Solutions by 31st July.Any questions please contact Dr Michael Orton at Warwick University.
13th July 2019: More than half of English/Welsh LAs underspent their DHP budget in 2018/19. (Underspend total £5.5 million). Read our DHP section on the website- here.
13th July 2019: UC Advance payments scam. There have been 42,000 fraud referrals from staff relating to potentially fraudulent advance claims; there are currently around 1,400 live prosecution cases underway. BBC reports that DWP plan to recover Advances received by scam victims, but not the amount of the Advance pocketed by the scammer. Justin Tomlinson (DWP Minister) also said they would consider reverting the victim to legacy benefits where they are worse off on UC. Info on Advance payments on this page.
13th July 2019: Report published by Heidi Allen MP & Frank Field MP "The 'other Britain' and the Failure of the Welfare State' The report follows visits to foodbanks and community organisations and covers: the benefits freeze; UC - 5 week wait, advances, high deductions, sanctions, wcas; PIP - medical assessments; NRPF; Job Centre culture; Working poor / gig economy; Problem debt; Balance between state and voluntary sector. It makes a number of suggestions for change.
13th July 2019: Interest rate charged on "SMI loan" (government loan to help with mortgage interest etc) has dropped to 1.3%. More on help for homeowners under UC here; help for those on other qualifying benefits here.
10th July 2019: Do you have some good ideas for the future of the social security system?The Commission on Social Security UK is looking for ideas about what would make a better benefits system.
If you would like to help complete this online Call for Solutions by 31st July.
Any questions please contact Dr Michael Orton at Warwick University. UC online account now shows a ‘Payments' section on the ‘Home’ page,available as soon as the claim is made It shows:the date that the first statement should be available; the date they should receive their first payment; a version of the statement to show how their payment will be made up based on what they’ve declared. Report from DWP magazine Touchbase.
10th July 2019: Pensioners in receipt of PIP will not be required to attend face to face assessments unless their needs have changed. More from gov.uk here.
9th July 2019: Work and Pensions Committee send questions to DWP Permanent Secretary Peter Schofield about the widespread UC Advance scam whereby claimants are offered money not knowing they have claimed UC- meaning they have to repay the whole Advance (of which they had only received part) and are often worse off. Letter here. Report here.
5th July 2019: Government Response to Work & Pensions Committee Report on DWP plans for managed migration (to UC) pilot. Summary and link to Response here. More on managed migration on this page.
5th July 2019: A new survey asking claimants for their ideas on how the benefit system - written in plain English, with illustrations, and a sign language video Included - has been published by The Commission on Social Security UK. an independent campaigning body. If you would like to give it to your tenants - click here.
June 2019: Government announces plans for 60 day "breathing space" for people with problem debts- but it won't start until 2021. Under the scheme so long as they engage with professional debts advisers* they will be protected from enforcement action from creditors and their interest will be frozen. Debts include council tax arrears and benefit overpayments. *But people receiving NHS treatment for a mental health crisis are exempt from the requirements to engage with debt advice. More here.
21st June 2019: Government loans for mortgage interest can now be transferred to a new home when the claimant moves. And there are 2 new government videos on "SMI loans"- one general; one on how to apply.how to apply Government announcement here including links to the videos. More on loans for mortgage interest- for legacy benefits and Pension Credit in this section; for Universal Credit in this section.
20th June 2019: The 2 year extension to the Worker Registration scheme for A8 nationals from April 2009-2011 found by Supreme Court to be unlawful (because disproportionate). A8s cannot be refused a 'right to reside' on the basis of not having been registered in this period. And for right to reside following retirement an EEA national does not have to have met the work requirement through the 3 years prior to retiring, just have met the worker requirement during this period and been present in UK for the 3 years. Judgement here. More on right to reside here, retirement rule here, and A8 nationals here.
20th June 2019: Motability is planning to release some of its reserves to support disabled customers and their families. No details yet but something to watch out for. Parliamentary news statement here.
19th June 2019: Date claimant contacts Citizens Advice for help with UC claim is NOT same as date of claim. DWP confirms as it is a contractual arrangement between DWP and Citizens Advice, it does not fall within the scope of Reg 10(1)(b) of the UC(etc) Claims & payments Regs - "a person providing service to the Secretary of State ... for the purpose of enabling that person to make a claim". More on date of claim for UC here.
17th June 2019: Government confirms it will seek reciprocal agreement with EEA countries in the event of a "no deal" Brexit. Reciprocal arrangements means claimants can pass the residence and presence tests for certain benefits (mainly those based on NI contributions), but not all. Alok Sharma stated "The United Kingdom is seeking to protect the social security coordination and reciprocal healthcare rights of UK nationals in the EU by reaching reciprocal arrangements with the EU or Member States to maintain existing rights for a transitional period until 31 December 2020 in a no deal scenario.’ "
14th June 2019: Supreme Court rules that a single parent who was unable to meet rental shortfall due to the LHA rates was not "intentionally homeless". It was found that she did not deliberately fail to pay all her rent, and it was unlawful for the Local Authority to expect her to use "non-housing benefit" benefits, intended for food and other essentials, to pay her rent.. Case details here. CPAG and Shelter assisted in the case.Report in Independent here.
5th June 2019: Latest Welfare Direct LA Bulletin 06/19 advises HB Offices on procedures when a working age couple become a mixed age couple and they transition to UC. More on the complex rules on Mixed Age couples here.
5th June 2019: CPAG need organisations with a varied client base to help with a pilot survey on claimant commitment issues. They are particularly interested in whether commitments are being tailored to claimants' particular circumstances. If you can help contact Lynsey Dalton at: LDalton@cpag.org.uk.
1st June 2019: For private tenancies, the Tenant Fees Act 2019 comes into force. Private Landlords will not be able to charge admin fees for references, credit or immigration status checks, contract renewal or leaving at the end of a contract (thought they can make a "reasonable" charge for ending a tenancy early, late rents, and other costs).There will be a cap of one week's rent for a holding deposit; 6 weeks' rent for security deposits. Failure to comply can incur fines of up to £5000 (first offence) or up to £30,000 (subsequent offences.) Tenant Fees Act guidance here.
29th May 2019: With effect from 31.05.19, all new PIP claimants who would have been due a review after pension age will receive an ongoing award instead, with a "light touch review" after 10 years. More here.
29th May 2019: Scottish Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment is not to be classified as a "public fund" for under 18 year old asylum seekers. The grant provides £600 for the first child and £300 for each subsequent child. More info here.
29th May 2019: DWP's Universal Credit landlords engagement newsletter - here - links to updated guide "UC housing costs and disclosure guide to landlords " - here - which confirms that explicit consent is not required for DWP to provide information on housing costs to landlords.
The newsletter also reminds landlords about email alerts they can receive, gives details of the migration pilot, changes to sanctions, 3rd party payments, the removal of ".gsi" from gov.uk email addresses, corporate appointees, and a reminder that sending a secure UC47 from a non-secure email address won't work. Information on all these issues on our website.
28th May 2019: Citizens Advice Scotland launch "For Your Benefit" campaign. It will encourage benefit take-up and help low income families take control of their finances. More info here.
19th May 2019: CPAG asking for evidence of claimants not getting UC claim taken as date they asked for help from Citizens Advice "Help to Claim" service. Form to report cases to CPAG here.
19th May 2019: Video Relay Service for British Sign Language users being tested for accessing Universal Credit helpline. DWP plans to implement in one area in June. Parliamentary answer here.
19th May 2015: Alok Sharma confirms 10% of UC payments are being deducted (up from 7% last year). This may be due to more people taking Advances at start of claim - 2.9 million advance payments have been made between May 2013 and end of April 2019. Parliamentary answer here. More on deductions from UC on this page.
15th May 2019: Supreme Court dismisses appeal against Benefit Cap by lone parents of children under age two. The majority decision (5:2) decided that the better outcomes for children in working families outweighed the other considerations. Judgment here.
15th May 2019: Mixed age couples now unable to choose between claiming Pension Credit & HB, or Universal Credit, as treated as working age. But there are some protections and exceptions. And those who were a mixed age couple on 14th May have 3 months to request a backdate of PC & HB. Details in this section.
15th May 2019: Plans for UC payment statements to be easier to read
and contain details of repayments announced by Alok Sharma. No date given. Announcement here.
9th May 2019: NAWRA (National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers) have written to Amber Rudd about the date of claim for UC where claimant was supported by Citizens Advice.
The concern is that the first date of contact with the Help to Claim Service is not being treated as an intention to claim and thereby the first date of claim. Letter here.
8th May 2019: Parents under 25 on Universal Credit.
CPAG are considering a campaign to get the Standard Allowance increased to the 25+ rate - use this form
if you wish to supply cases to CPAG.
7th May 2019: 5 claimants have been compensated for incorrect advice by DWP staff about claiming Universal Credit. For example, o
ne had been told they didn't need to claim Child Benefit; another was told contributory ESA no longer existed. Some were given one off compensation payments, others ongoing. See from Q212 on this oral evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee
(all of which makes interesting reading).
7th May 2019: 53 week rent year.
Frank Field welcomes Secretary of State's decision to look into the issue, but says he can't escape the conclusion that the DWP can't count how many days are in a year. Commons Select Committee report here.
5th May 2019: High Court rules that planned transitional payments to those previous Severe Disability Premium recipients who went onto UC before 16th January 2019 are unlawful.
This is because the proposed regulations will pay a flat rate that will be less than the amount retained by not having to go onto UC, for those protected by the "SDP Gateway" from 16th January. More on SDP Gateway here.
More on transitional protection here.
High Court Judgement here
2nd May 2019: CPAG (Child Poverty Action Group)'s "Early Warning System finds Universal Credit information to claimants to be inadequate and in some respects unlawful.
For example payment information doesn't clearly explain how housing costs and childcare costs have been calculated, meaning claimants do not have sufficient information to challenge decisions. And the information should set out appeal rights - but doesn't. Report here.
Want to report Universal Credit issues to the Early Warning System? Click here.
25th April 2019: Updated guidance on "Right to Rent" checks for EEA Nationals and "Windrush" generation - here.
24th April 2019: Only 21% of benefit claimants who'd been getting help with mortgage interest through their benefits have taken up the offer of the government loan that replaces SMI.