Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.
Newsletters: July 2017

July 2017 Newsletter

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

In this issue find out more about:

  • Pension Credit Age- what it is and why is it important in light of Universal Credit?
  • More HB for some from 23 June 2017- make sure your customers know about the new rules for earnings disregards!
  • Digital UC - What advice would you give?- would moving to a 'Full'/Digital area make anyone worse off?
  • New training courses- book in-house for your staff for just £845+vat.
  • Find out why some landlords are not applying for APAs under the 'Full'/Digital service
  • New scheme for help with mortgage interest from April 2018regulations now published.
  • Universal Credit- new online videos.
  • New leaflets- Two Child Limit leaflet and Lodger leaflet.
As well as:
  • Your chance to WIN £50 for your local FOOD BANK and chocolates for you!
  • This month's really useful standard letter.

Pension Credit Age
..what is it and
..why is it important?
particularly for those on Universal Credit...

Pension Credit age is the ‘cut off’ point at which someone is no longer classed as a ‘working age’ person for means-tested benefit purposes.

Pension Credit age is gradually increasing – currently it is 64.

To check when someone will reach Pension Credit age you can use the online checker on or our table. Find links to both here.

Make an advance claim!
Anyone who is due to reach Pension Credit age within the next 4 months can make an advance claim for Pension Credit. This means the claim can be processed and payments can start as soon as possible once the claimant has reached Pension Credit age.

Currently getting Universal Credit?
It is even more important for those who get Universal Credit and who are approaching Pension Credit age to make an advance claim for Pension Credit.
The reason for this is –if they don’t they will not be entitled to any Universal Credit for the whole of the Monthly Assessment Period during which they reach Pension Credit age! And they cannot qualify for Pension Credit until they reach Pension Credit age – so there could be a gap of up to one month without any Universal Credit or Pension Credit!

Universal Credit is assessed on a monthly basis; each award being for a whole month. Special rules make an exception to this general rule and enable a part-month award for those reaching Pension Credit age – ie. the UC award will end on the day before the claimant reaches Pension Credit age – BUT ONLY if they have made an advance claim for Pension Credit.
You can find more information on this here.

Mixed age couples
The Universal Credit Regulations treat a mixed age couple – ie. where one has reached Pension Credit age but the other has not – as a ‘working age’ couple.

In the future, mixed age couples will not be able to make a new claim for Pension Credit: they will only be able to make a new claim for Universal Credit.

At the moment, in Live/Gateway UC Service areas, the gateway conditions prevent anyone who is aged 60 years and 6 months or over from claiming. Also, couples are prevented from claiming in Live/Gateway areas, apart from in the Northwest and pathfinder areas.

But in Full/Digital Service areas, there are no gateway conditions (apart from having 3 or more children preventing new UC claims). So, it would be possible for a mixed age couple to claim Universal Credit in Full/Digital Service areas.

At the moment, these couples have a choice – they can claim Pension Credit instead. Pension Credit has not been 'closed off' like the legacy benefits.

Pension Credit would generally be the better option because:

  • It is usually much more financially generous - claimants can be over £100 a week better off on PC (and HB) compared to UC.
  • A couple on Pension Credit will get Housing Benefit for help towards their rent – and if they have a ‘spare’ bedroom, they would not be subject to the Bedroom Tax under HB whereas they would under a UC claim.
  • There would be no ‘conditionality’ for the younger member of the couple – as there would be with Universal Credit.

NOTE: We do not know when the Pension Credit Regulations will be amended to prevent new Pension Credit claims from mixed age couples. So, now is a good time to watch out for couples who might be entitled to Pension Credit – because once they are on Pension Credit, they are protected from having to claim Universal Credit.

Change to HB rules

Make sure your customers
don't lose out!

Couples where one member is sick or disabled and the other is working 16 hours or more per week could become entitled to HB, or could get more HB, following a change in the HB Regulations.

The additional earnings disregard of £17.10 per week applies to claimants in various circumstances. It can mean more than £11 extra Housing Benefit every week.

For more information click here.

What has changed?

For couples where one is disabled, the rules before 23rd June 2017 required that it was the disabled person who was working 16 or more hours per week in order to qualify for the £17.10 additional earnings disregard.

The good news is that from 23rd June 2017, it does not have to be the disabled member of the couple who is working:the additional earnings disregard applies whichever member of the couple is working 16 or more hours a week.

This change, therefore, will affect couples where the member of the couple who is sick or disabled is not the member of the couple who is working 16 or more hours a week.
The disabled member of the couple must be:

  • In the work related activity group for ESA, or
  • Getting ESA with the Support Component, or
  • Getting Disability Living Allowance, or
  • Getting Personal Independence Payment, or
  • Getting Attendance Allowance, or
  • Getting Constant Attendance Allowance, or
  • Getting Armed Forces Independence Payment, or
  • Getting War pensioner's mobility supplement, or
  • Getting Working Tax Credit that includes the disability element or severe disability element, or
  • Certified as severely sight impaired or blind, or
  • Incapable of work and has been incapable for 52 weeks (or 28 weeks if terminally ill).

Can you help?

The problem with this change is that there are no guarantees that the Housing Benefit Offices will find out who should now benefit from the extra earnings disregard. And HB Offices cannot be expected to know about anyone who is not currently claiming HB! So it would be great if this news could be circulated to tenants. If you have a tenants' newsletter or news page on your customer website, the following text may be useful to you...

A change in the Housing Benefit rules- Could you benefit?

A change in the Housing Benefit rules means that some people will now qualify for help towards their rent and others could get more Housing Benefit.
Contact us if all of the following apply to you -

  • You are a member of a couple who live together, and
  • You are not receiving Income Related ESA, Income Support, Income Based Jobseeker's Allowance, Universal Creditor Pension Credit, and
  • One of you works for 16 or more hours per week, and
  • The other is sick or disabled.
What advice would you give?

Moving to a 'Full' / Digital UC area could make a claimant worse off....

Click here to find out more......
New Training Courses

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

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

APA Managed Payments......
Why some landlords are choosing not to apply for them for tenants on the 'Full'/Digital UC service.

For tenants on the 'Full'/Digital UC service, APA managed payments are paid to their landlord on a four weekly schedule - at the same time as any Third Party Deduction schedule.

This means that:

  • Because the amount taken from the claimant is a monthly amount but the payment to the landlord is every 4 weeks it is hard to determine an accurate rent arrears figure.
  • Over the period of a year, twelve payments are taken from the claimant's award, but thirteen schedules are sent to the landlord - meaning that one of these schedules will not have a payment for the claimant.
  • The claimant can have the APA managed payment taken out of their UC award and the landlord not receive the payment until up to 4 weeks later.
  • There can belong delays between applying for the APA managed payment and receiving payment - even where the request is processed quickly by the DWP and there are no issues, a landlord can wait nearly 3 months before they receive the first payment.
For these reasons many landlords with tenants on 'Full'/Digital UC service have decided it is easier not to apply for APA managed payments.

More details here.

Universal Credit

The DWP have produced an updated video about the Full Service.
It covers making a claim and using the account and journal.
It lasts 12 minutes and is on Youtube.
Click here.

Another Universal Credit Video!

You can also see our own video on Youtube -

Universal Credit as a smoothie?

Help for Homeowners

Changes from April 2018

Some financial help towards mortgage costs can be available for those home owners who claim Income Support, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Based Jobseeker's Allowance, Universal Credit or Guarantee Pension Credit.

This scheme- often referred to as Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) - will be replaced by different arrangements from April 2018.

The new scheme will be in the form of a loan, secured against the mortgaged property - it will need to be repaid.

The new scheme will apply to both new and existing claimants.

Click here for more details and a link to the Regulations, which have now been published.

Find lots more information about help for homeowners here.

Two Child Limit: leaflet
We have a series of leaflets that aim to help you provide accurate and useful information to your tenants.

Our latest is one all about the Two Child Limit.

See all our leaflets here.

Room for a Lodger?

New Leaflet

Find out more and
see the leaflet in full here.

This month's useful
standard letter

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

This month we would like to remind you about Standard Letter BC8.

This letter is for lone parents who have a child or children under two and who are affected by the Benefit Cap, to register an appeal against the decision to impose the Cap.

The High Court recently ruled that the Benefit Cap is discriminatory and unlawful for lone parents with children under two. The DWP is appealing this decision, but if their challenge fails, anyone who has lodged an appeal could have the Benefit Cap lifted from when they lodged their appeal.

Click here for more information.

This decision will also apply under Universal Credit.

Your chance to
win £50 for your local food bank

Every month we give you the chance to win £50 for your local food bank.
Well done to last month's winner - Sophie from Norwich City Council - a £50 cheque is making its way to the Norwich 
Food Bank.

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

Just email the answer to the question below to us by Friday 18th August for your chance to win.

This month’s question is:

Which Universal Credit claimants who are at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4 are eligible for Healthy Start Scheme food vouchers and vitamins?

Find your answer starting from this page.

email your answer to: info@housingsystems.co.uk
Open Training Course - get booked on!

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

Click here for more details

Book a place for £95+vat per delegate
email info@housingsystems.co.uk


Using the links in the newsletter
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