Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.

Newsletters: Nov/Dec 2018

November/December 2018 Newsletter

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

In this issue find out more about:

  • Changes to the Two Child Limit rules -  some changes from November 2018 and other big changes from 1st February 2019. 
  •  Housing costs for 18-21 year olds - when will these restrictions cease to apply?
  • The Severe Disability Premium - New 'gateway condition' and extra income for some who have already claimed UC. 
  • Families with three+ children able to claim UC - From 1st February 2019, the 'interim period' ends and families with 3+ children can claim UC
  • Pension Credit changes - additional amounts for children
  • Pensionable Age 65 and increasing - effect on various benefits
  • Need UC training that will make a difference? - Book now for 2019 at 2018 prices!
  • 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! 

Current and imminent changes
There are several changes due to be introduced over the coming weeks!
So in this month's newsletter you will find a summary of these changes - in date order. 
Please read on to find out what is changing and when...
From 28th November 2018 -
Two child limit rules change
for adopted / kinship care children
The rules are relaxed from 28th November 2018, so that claimants can receive a Child Element in a Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit or Universal Credit award for any children who are adopted or cared for, for each of their eldest two children, plus any third or subsequent children who qualify for an exception.  

Previously, the exception to allow a Child Element for a child who has been adopted* or who is being looked after under a kinship care / non-parental care arrangement only ‘worked’ if the child to whom the exception applied was child number 3, 4, 5 etc in the ‘pecking order’.

There will be families who adopted / became kinship carers for one or two children first, and then went on to have their own biological child/ren. The exception did not previously work for that situation; they would not have received a Child Element for their own children if two Child Elements were already included.

This change means that in the above scenario, the family will get a Child Element for their first and second biological children (and for a third, fourth etc child if the multiple birth / non-consensual sex exception applies) and they would also get Child Elements for any children who have been adopted or are being looked after under a kinship care / non-parental care arrangement.

*Adoption - only applies to children adopted within the UK (see site for more details).

Q. How will the families who have missed out so far be picked up by the DWP / Tax Credit Office / HB Office when the rules change?
A. We do not yet know what the arrangements are – we would suggest any claimants who are affected by this change contact the relevant department as soon as possible.



Mark and Sarah have adopted two children through Social Services as Sarah was told she would not be able to conceive. But she is amazed to discover a few months later that she is expecting her first child - born in July 2017. They did not receive any extra Child Tax Credit because they already had two Child Elements included in their award. However from 28th November 2018, they will be entitled to three Child Elements in their CTC award: one each for the adopted children plus one in respect of the new baby - because both of the other children are adopted. This means an extra £53 a week CTC!




Farah and Simon have two children: their 8 year old daughter and a 3 year old boy, who they adopted through Social Services in 2017.  Farah has just given birth to a beautiful baby boy. They will be entitled to three Child Elements in their UC award: one each for their biological children and one for the adopted child. Even though their new baby is their 3rd child, for the purposes of the Two Child Limit rule, since 28th November 2018 the adopted child is 'invisible', so the new baby is seen as their 2nd child.

We have lots more information about the Two Child Limit here.

From 31st December 2018 –
UC Housing Cost Element
for 18-21 year olds.


The restriction which prevents some single, childless Universal Credit Full Service claimants from getting a Housing Costs Element in their UC is abolished from 31st December 2018.

There are many exemptions, which allow many 18-21 year olds to get help towards their rent. Nevertheless, lettings and allocations teams will be relieved that this will be one less factor to consider!

For any single 18-21 year old UC claimant who does not fit one of the exceptions and who is already a tenant, this restriction will not apply to them from the start of their UC Monthly Assessment Period which starts on or after 31st December. (The general rule when Regulations are amended is that the new legislation takes effect from the beginning of the Monthly Assessment Period after the one during which the change in Regulations took effect, unless the first date of that MAP is the same as the date the legislative change takes effect.)

More info here.

From 16th January 2019   
UC - Protection for those with the
Severe Disability Premium

There are two changes which are expected to be passed by parliament:

1. A new 'gateway condition' to prevent new UC claims from some disabled claimants

No new claim for Universal Credit can be made on or after 16th January 2019 by a claimant who gets a Severe Disability Premium (SDP) in their existing legacy benefit award – or has done in the previous month (as long as they still meet the conditions for the SDP).

Eventually these claimants will need to move onto UC (they will be ‘manage-migrated’), but they will then receive ‘transitional protection’, so that they should not see an immediate loss of income at the point of moving onto UC.

Q. If someone with the SDP is moving into a new tenancy before 16th January 2019 and the move would normally trigger the need to claim UC (ie. moving from non-rented to rented or moving to another tenancy which is in a different local authority area) - is it worth not claiming UC and waiting until 16th January so that they can keep their legacy benefit and make a new claim for HB?

A. That is really for the claimant to decide! And there is a lot to think about!
If they can manage to pay their rent out of their other income for a few weeks, they might decide to wait. They would need to report their change of address to the ESA/JSA/Income Support/Child Tax Credit Dept. to ensure that their benefit continues to be paid. Then on 16th January 2019 they could make a claim for Housing Benefit. There might be reasons why someone might want to avoid UC other than being worse off financially - monthly budgeting, online claim, conditionality etc.
However, if they are going to struggle and get into rent arrears, they might be better off claiming Universal Credit as soon as they move - and hopefully they will qualify for the Transitional SDP Payment (see below).

Q. What about those claimants who move after 16th January 2019 where the move would normally trigger the need to claim UC (ie. moving from non-rented to rented or moving to another tenancy which is in a different local authority area etc) - AND the move itself means that they are now entitled to the severe disability premium. Could they get the SDP included in their legacy benefit claim and then claim HB?

A. Yes! And they could be significantly better off if they do.
If they can manage to pay their rent out of their other income for a few weeks ie until the SDP is included in their legacy benefit, they can then make a claim for Housing Benefit (and they could try for a backdate too!).
This would mean getting the SDP in their legacy benefit, and for most claimants this would mean being significantly better off than had they claimed UC.

More info here.

2. Transitional Protection for those who have already moved onto UC.

Many claimants have already had to claim Universal Credit and have been worse off financially as a result (as there is no SDP equivalent in UC). 
From 16th January 2019 the Regulations will allow for a Transitional SDP Payment for those who qualify for it. 

Q. Which claimants will qualify for the Transitional SDP Payment?
A. There are complex rules, but in basic terms the claimant must have:
Met the new 'gateway condition' as outlined above at the point they became entitled to UC,
Had a continuous claim for UC ever since,
Not taken on a partner/separated,
Not had anyone paid Carers Allowance, or had a Carer Element included in their UC award for looking after them, and
Had a continuous claim for PIP daily living / DLA mid or high rate care etc

Q. When will claimants start to get their Transitional SDP Payments?
A. We do not yet know what the arrangements will be. However, the longer the delay in having their claim checked, the greater the risk of losing out on the ‘backdate’ of the Transitional SDP Payment (eg. if they lose their qualifying disability benefit, take on a partner/separate before the UC Dept look into their case). On or after 16th January, claimants could make a request in their journal to be assessed for the Transitional SDP Payment

You can find lots more on this here.

From 1st February 2019 –
Families with 3+ children not able to make new claims for legacy benefits!

From 1st February 2019, having 3 or more children no longer prevents someone from having to claim Universal Credit.

Since the Two Child Limit rule was introduced in April 2017, the government has prevented new claims for Universal Credit being made by families with 3 or more dependent children/young persons. This was a temporary measure, introduced for administrative reasons, and will change from 1st February 2019.

The ‘gateway condition’ will be removed, meaning anyone with 3 or more dependent children/young persons whose circumstances trigger the need for them to have to claim UC will need to do so. And anyone with 3
or more dependent children/young persons can make a new claim for UC if they wish (there are some families that will be better off on UC).
Updated Two Child Limit Leaflet

Click here


From 1st February 2019 –
Two Child Limit 
Stricter rules for some UC claimants

New UC claimants who are not protected could only receive two Child Elements, regardless of their children’s ages.

The Two Child Limit rules are stricter under Universal Credit, compared with how it works in Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit. 

In CTC and HB, a Child Element is included for all dependent children/young persons born before 6th April 2017. So, for example, a claimant with four children born in 2007, 2009, 2011 & 2014 would get four Child Elements in CTC or HB.

However, in UC, from 1st February 2019 it does not matter when the children/young persons were born – the limit is two Child Elements for the eldest children, plus a Child Element in respect of a 3rd plus child/young person whom a protection or exception applies (and a Child Element in respect of any adopted/kinship care child/young person).

So, in the above example, if no protection or exceptions apply to any of the children – the claimant would only receive two Child Elements in UC.


Protection applies as follows:
A Child Element will only be included in the claimant's 'Maximum Universal Credit' in respect of a third plus child if:

  • The child was born before 6th April 2017 and there are at least two older dependent children / qualifying young people AND
  • Either on 31st January 2019 the claimant or his/her partner was entitled to Universal Credit and was responsible for the child
  • or the claimant or his/her partner was getting a Child Element for the child in Child Tax Credit within the 6 months prior to the date their UC entitlement started.
And exceptions can apply where the child/young person has been adopted/kinship care, multiple birth, conceived through non-consensual sex.

These are a complex set of rules - please refer to our flowchart.

More information here.
UC Rules from 1st February 2019

Click here


From 1st February 2019 –
Additional amounts
for children
in Pension Credit 

At present, any Pension Credit claimant who is responsible for a child or qualifying young person will claim Child Tax Credit (New claims for Tax Credits can still be made where the claimant is Pension Credit age). 

But, Tax Credits are being replaced by Universal Credit for working age claimants, and will be replaced by Pension Credit for Pension Credit age claimants.

An additional amount for children will start to be incorporated into Pension Credit from 1st February 2019 - more details to follow.

Anyone of Pension Credit age who already claims CTC will continue to do so
(including those people making a new claim for Pension Credit).

Changes to incorporate help with rent into Pension Credit are not due to come in until 2023.
The date when mixed age couples will no longer have the option of making a claim for Pension Credit instead of UC is not yet known.

Pensionable Age
starts to increase above 65...

Since 6th November 2018 the age at which men and women can:

•    Claim their State Retirement Pension
•    Claim Pension Credit 

has aligned to the same date.

Currently State Pension / Pension Credit Age is 65 years, but this will increase from December 2018 onwards (and will reach 68 by 2039).

The alignment of Pension Credit Age with State Pension Age (for men – it was already the same age for women) has made things a bit more straightforward. 

It now means that men (as well as women) can claim their State Pension and Pension Credit (if they qualify) at the same time. 

Knock on effect on other benefits.....
•    The upper age limit to make a new claim for Personal Independence Payment, and
•    the minimum age to qualify for Attendance Allowance 
....is ‘pensionable age’ ie currently 65 – but this will increase from December 2018.

Important! Any single person who is approaching State Pension Age and who is on Universal Credit should ensure they make an advance claim for Pension Credit (even if they are not sure they will qualify for Pension Credit!). Doing so will ensure that they receive Universal Credit up to the day they turn Pension Credit age. If they do not make an advance claim for Pension Credit, their UC entitlement will end at the start of the Monthly Assessment Period during which they turn Pension Credit Age (so, depending on how the dates fall, they could lose out on up to one month’s UC!)

Don't forget: Mixed age couples are still able to claim Pension Credit instead of Universal Credit.

Proposed Benefit Rates from April 2019
available here
How will Brexit affect EEA Nationals' entitlement to benefits?
more on UC here

DWP Christmas & New Year
Opening Hours 

Information about opening hours for Jobcentres and Helplines over the holiday season here.

Please let us know what you think of our Need2ClaimUC? Now included in your subscription....

It helps you work out whether, following a change in circumstances, someone needs to claim UC.

click here

Need Training in 2019?

When you understand Universal Credit, you can make smart decisions about what to do next!

We are now taking bookings for 2019
Please contact us asap - dates are disappearing fast!!

Please see our training brochure for more details of the training we offer - we've already delivered over 200 UC courses to housing providers this year.
Our popular in-house courses cost just £895+vat for up to 16 delegates - that can work out at less than £60+vat per delegate!
The cost of training is going up in 2019 but we will guarantee the current cost if you book agreed dates in 2019, before the end of 2018.

Click here for our training brochure

This month's useful
standard letter

A common problem area (still) is where ESA claimants move onto Universal Credit but are not awarded the LCW or LCWRA Element from the start of their UC award.
Claimants who have had to claim UC, eg because they have moved to a different local authority area and who were receiving the Work Related Activity Group Component or the Support Component in their ESA award should have the LCW or LCWRA Element included in their UC assessment from the start of their award.

Standard Letter UC LCW11 can be copied or uploaded to the claimant's journal to  request that the LCW / LCWRA Element is included back to the start of their Universal Credit claim.


click here. for the letter and here for more information about the various issues for claimants moving from ESA to UC.

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 the many tools which are at your fingertips too!

Have you seen our....?

New Universal Credit Key Facts sheets for claimants

We have produced two new, printable Key Facts sheets - which you can print and give to your clients.

Key facts for claimants is about the claiming process - key information on how to ensure a UC claim is made successfully
Key Facts - Sanctions is about how to ensure the Claimant Commitment is appropriate and how to avoid sanctions.

Find them here.


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
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.

Well done to September's winner - Sue from Bromford Housing Group
- a £50 cheque is making its way to The Trussell Trust. 

To enter this month's competition, just email the answer to the question below to us by Friday 21st December for your chance to win.

This month's quiz questions are about Bob....

Bob claims Universal Credit. He is struggling financially - six months ago he received a three month sanction for failing to apply for a job.

He did not think the decision was fair, but he did not challenge the decision at the time.

1. Is it too late for Bob to make a request for a Mandatory Reconsideration?

2. What should the decision maker do if Bob does not have a good enough reason for the delay in making the request?

Find your answers here.

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

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