Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.

Newsletters: September 2017

September 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:

  • Open training coursesPIP for Young People in Supported Housing, Digital UC - just £95+vat per delegate.
  • Students and help with rent- the different rules for HB and UC.
  • Earnings and UC- what if an employer is late in reporting a payment of wages?
  • October rent changes- reporting them to the UC department.
  • UC: Trusted partner Scheme and Landlord Portal- update.
  • Temporary accommodation- help with rent for UC claimants.
As well as:
  • Your chance to WIN £50 for your local FOOD BANK and chocolates for you!
  • This month's really useful standard letter.
  • This month's really useful tool!
Open Training Course - get booked on!

PIP for Young People in Supported Housing

Wednesday 18th October 2017
Leeds - Marriott Hotel
9.30am - 4.30pm

Click here for more details

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

Click here for more details

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


Students and
help with rent

Which students can get help towards their rent?
This is the time of year when most courses of education start, and any tenants who are planning to start a course should also be thinking about how they are going to pay their rent while they are studying.

Most full-time students are not able to claim Housing Benefit, and the Universal Credit Regulations are even more restrictive on which students are able to claim. However, it is important to know that some students are eligible to claim.

But remember, even if a student falls into a group that is eligible to claim HB or UC, that does not necessarily mean that they will be entitled – as this will depend on their circumstances and income. Student loans and some grants count as income, but usually only during the academic year.

NOTE: Where a student is paying rent to the educational establishment where they are studying ie student halls,they are unable to claim HB even if they fall into one of the groups of students who can normally claim.

The easy ones to spot!
Both the HB and the UC Regulations allow the following students to claim:

  • Students who have a partner who is not a student (nb under HB non-student must be the claimant).
  • Lone parents and single foster parents who have a dependent child or dependent children.
  • Couples where both are students who have a dependent child or dependent children.
  • Students who are Pension Credit age (they would only be claiming UC if their partner is working age – but remember they could claim Pension Credit and Housing Benefit as an alternative!).
There are other students who are able to claim but the rules are different depending on whether they are claiming HB or UC to support their rent.

If they are able to claim, would it be HB or UC?
This will depend on whether the student is living in / moving to an area which has the Full/Digital Universal Credit Service and, if so, whether they need to make a new claim.

If the tenant is in a Full/Digital Service area, and if they already have an ongoing award of Housing Benefit and have not moved from a different local authority area, then becoming a student would be a change of circumstances for Housing Benefit. This means that they would not need to make a claim for UC and they could remain on HB (if they were still eligible as a student).

But if they were not already claiming HB, any new claim for help towards the rent made in a UC Full/Digital Service area would have to be via Universal Credit (unless they have three+ children).

In Live/Gateway Service areas, the 'gateway conditions' prevent students from claiming UC, so in these areas they could still make a new claim for HB.

If they are able to claim or stay on HB, which other groups of students could be eligible?
If the student does not have to claim UC, they could be eligible for HB instead if they are:
  • Already on a passport benefit ie Income Support, Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-Based Jobseeker's Allowance, Universal Credit and living in 'specified accommodation', or Guarantee Pension Credit.
  • Studying part-time (generally this is less than 16 guided learning hours per week).
  • Under 21 and on a full-time course of non-advanced education, OR under 22 and on such a course since before their 21st birthday.
  • A disabled student, ie. a full-time student who meets the conditions for the Disability Premium or Severe Disability Premium, or has continuously for 196 days and continues to have (or is treated as having) a Limited Capability for Work or qualifies for a disabled student's allowance because they are deaf.
More info here.

Which students can claim UC?
For those needing to claim UC, the rules are stricter regarding which students are eligible. In addition those listed under "Easy Ones to Spot" above, the following students may be able to get UC if they are:
  • Under 21 (or under 22 but were under 21 when their course started), and undertaking a full-time course of non-advanced education and are without parental support.
  • A student who has taken time out from their course because of illness or caring responsibilities, but the illness / responsibility has ended, and they are waiting to re-join their course, and they are not eligible for a loan or grant.
  • Classed as a 'disabled' student – see below.

Disabled students and UC
Fewer disabled students are able to claim Universal Credit than are able to claim legacy benefits. This is because of a 'catch 22' situation.

The Universal Credit Regulations define a 'disabled student' as someone who is 'entitled to Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment and has a limited capability for work'. So, whilst it is possible for someone to become a student and remain on UC if they: are already on UC, have already been found to have a Limited Capability for Work and get PIP/DLA; in most situations it is not possible for people who are already students to claim UC! (And if they fall under the Full/Digital UC service, they cannot make a claim for HB either).
a student cannot be classed as a disabled student without being found unfit for work ie having a Work Capability Assessment - but they cannot apply for a Work Capability Assessment because they aren't on UC - so they can never have one!

In order to be found to have a limited capability for work, the student must undergo the Work Capability Assessment. The way to get this assessment is by making a claim for benefit. So, the 'catch 22' is: a student cannot be classed as a disabled student without the Work Capability Assessment but they cannot apply for a Work Capability Assessment because they aren't on UC - because they are ineligible to claim UC as a student who is not classed as a disabled student!

The only exception to this is where the student falls into one of the limited categories of people who can be treated as having a Limited Capability for Work in Schedules 8 and 9 of the Universal Credit Regulations 2013 (eg. undergoing chemotherapy, dialysis, hospital treatment etc).

See here for more details.

What about UC and part-time students?
The UC rules are stricter than HB, in that if someone is on a course that is not compatible with their work-related requirements on their Claimant Commitment, and they do not receive any student income in relation to that course, then they will not be eligible for UC.

What happens if it is a non-dependant who is going away to university?
Non-dependants can affect a parent's HB or UC award if the parent's home is deemed to be the student's'normal home'. So the question will be – what is the student’s 'normal home'?

If the decision maker agrees that the student’s normal home is their parental home, they will still be allocated a room under the size criteria. If the parent is claiming Housing Benefit, no non-dependant deduction is applied in respect of a student (unless working during the summer holidays), whereas for Universal Credit, if the student is aged 21 or over, a housing cost contribution is deducted.

If the student accommodation is seen to be the student’s normal home, then no bedroom is allocated for them at their family home and their parent's benefit will be subject to the bedroom tax.

See here for more details on HB and here for UC.

Have you seen our handy

Universal Credit Booklet?

Why not order some

- just £125+vat for 500

Click here for more information

Earnings and UC Monthly Assessment Periods

Universal Credit is a monthly benefit and, if a claimant is working, the income used to calculate UC entitlement for their Monthly Assessment Period is the actual net earnings they receive during that MAP. UC Regulation 54(1) states: 'The calculation of a person's earned income in respect of an assessment period is, unless otherwise provided in this Chapter, to be based on the actual amounts received in that period.'

In some Monthly Assessment Periods there will be extra wages, eg. for those paid weekly, where 5 paydays fall within the same MAP, or if paid monthly, where a payday falls on a weekend or bank holiday and is brought forward and the payday then falls in the same UC MAP as the previous payday. This means there will be a lower Universal Credit award in that month, or none at all, and it makes budgeting more difficult for the claimant. The DWP are correct to take into account the extra payday if the wages were received within the same MAP.

However, sometimes the information on the Real Time Information (RTI) system, which the DWP use as evidence of earned income,does not reflect the exact date the claimant was paid their wages. This can happen if the employer reported making the payment on the RTI system a day or more after the payment of wages was made.

Where someone's UC award has been adversely affected as a result of the RTI system showing an inaccurate date of receipt of earnings, they can challenge this.

The following new case law decision may be useful: SSWP v RW (rule 17) (UC).

The case involved a UC claimant whose employer had reported her earnings on the RTI system later than she had actually received the wages and, as a result, two monthly wages had been taken into account in the same Monthly Assessment Period for her UC award. She appealed the decision to count both wages as income for the same Monthly Assessment Period.The First Tier Tribunal ruled in her favour.

The Secretary of State (DWP) appealed to the Upper Tribunal against the decision of the First Tier Tribunal, but subsequently withdrew the appeal and accepted the First Tier Tribunal’s decision that Regulation 61 (3)(b)(i) applied (when the evidence of earnings should not be based on the information reported to the RTI system) as the employer had failed to report the wages within the Monthly Assessment Period; and Regulation 61 (3)(b)(ii) also applied (the information from HMRC failed to reflect the definition of employed earnings in Regulation 55) because the information received in respect of the assessment period did not ‘reflect reality’.

See here for more information.

New Training Courses

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

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

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

October Rent Changes

The DWP have confirmed that in Live/Gateway Universal Credit Service areas, social landlords can send details of October 2017 rent changes to the UC department using the same arrangements that were in place for April 2017 changes. You can report these changes between 1 and 30 September 2017.

See here for more information.

In Full/Digital Service areas, tenants must report any changes themselves, via their UC journal.

Trusted Partner Scheme
and Landlord Portal Service

The government has confirmed that both these schemes - which are designed to make communication between landlords and the Universal Credit department easier - are to be rolled out to more landlords from October. DWP Minister Damian Hinds has confirmed:

Following successful pilots of the ‘Trusted Partner’ scheme and the ‘Landlord Portal Service’, DWP will roll out both initiatives together. We will start enrolling more landlords in stages from October, in tandem with the expansion of the universal credit full service. We will start with the largest landlord groups, in order to ensure the highest possible number of tenants are able to benefit from the schemes, as early as possible.’

His full statement is here.

Did you know?

Temporary Accommodation

Help with the rent for temporary accommodation is limited to the Local Housing Allowance rate for tenants who claim Universal Credit. Claimants can try for a Discretionary Housing Payment for the shortfall.

However it is a good idea to check if the accommodation can be classed as'specified accommodation'. If this is the case,help for the rent comes from Housing Benefit instead of being part of the UC award and there will be no rent restrictions.

See here for more information.

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 UC HCE3a.

When a joint tenant leaves a property, the Universal Credit department frequently refuse to increase the remaining joint tenant's Housing Cost Element to reflect that they are now having to pay all of the rent.

This letter is to request a mandatory reconsideration if such a decision is made - and has been successful on numerous occasions.

Click here for more information.

This month's

useful 'tool'

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

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

Pension Credit leaflet

Did you know that around one third of people who would be entitled to Pension Credit are not claiming it?

Pension Credit is a ‘top up’ benefit for those of Pension Credit age and it is much more generous than ‘top-up’ benefits for working age people.

When someone reaches Pension Credit age will depend on their date of birth. Anyone who was born before 6.8.53 will have already reached Pension Credit age – see here for more information.

There has never been a more appropriate time to raise awareness or even to run a ‘take up’ campaign!

This is because at some point in the future (we have heard this could be September 2019)‘mixed age’ couples (where one has reached Pension Credit age but the other has not) will no longer be able to make a new claim for Pension Credit –they will only be able to make a new claim for the Universal Credit.

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.
You can see an image of the front and back of the leaflet here.

Any mixed age couples who are already claiming UC but want to swap to PC instead should be careful about timing - see here for more information.

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 - Louise from Golden Gates Housing - a £50 cheque is making its way to Warrington 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 13th October for your chance to win.

This month we have 2 questions:

If a tenant or their partner is in receipt of Personal Independence Payment or Disability Living Allowance, this can mean no non-dependant deductions are applied.

Which component and rates of PIP or DLA must they be getting for there to be no non-dependant deduction from their:
1. Housing Benefit?
2. Universal Credit?

Find your answers here and here.

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

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