Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.
Newsletters: Sept/Oct 2018

October 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:

  • Further UC changes ahead? - leaked document outlines plans for more changes to a failing system.
  • New Tool - Need2ClaimUC? - Despite what you may have been told not every change in circumstances will trigger the need to claim UC. Check out our new tool.
  • How should the DWP deal with claimants with complex needsNew letters that may help.
  • The Severe Disability Premium - Extra income and protection from UC - making sure those who should get it do!
  • New UC case law! - Does withdrawing a UC claim mean it is as if it's never been made?
  • Need UC training that will make a difference? - We're now taking bookings for 2019.
  • New video - Have you seen our new video about the Housing Systems website?

  • 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!
Further UC changes ahead?
Leaked documents seen by the BBC outline proposals to:
  • Delay the UC managed-migration roll out.
  • Introduce a 2 week run on for Income Support, Income-Based JSA and Income-Related ESA when the claimant makes a new claim for UC.
  • Set a maximum deduction level for Advance Payments.
  • Look at how self-employed earnings are treated under UC.

Delay managed-migration

The Government appear to be delaying the roll out of UC. This proposal does not affect the current roll out of Full Service UC across the UK - which we assume will continue as planned, but the start of the managed-migration of legacy benefit claimants on to UC that was set to start next June. The leak confirms a statement made by Esther McVey earlier this week and suggests that the pilots(due to start in the new year), will not start until summer 2019, when small batches of claimants will be moved onto UC and the managed-migration proper, ie large batches of claimants would not now start until November 2020 (instead of June 2019). This means that UC will not now be fully rolled out until Dec 2023.

Two week run-on

The Government are looking into the possibility of introducing a two week run on of IS, IB-JSA, and IR-ESA - we assume the rules would be similar to the rules that govern the HB two week run-on introduced earlier this year ie that the IS, IB-JSA or IR-ESA would be ending because the claimant has made a new claim for UC

Maximum deduction level for Advance Payments

Advance Payments are normally set to be recovered over a 12 month period. This proposal will set a maximum as to how much this deduction can be, in any one month, to 30% of the claimants Standard Allowance. This will only impact on those claimants who accept a large Advance Payment as generally deductions for most claimants are already below this level. We assume that if the Government do introduce this maximum, then some families will be paying back an Advance Period for longer than the current 12 month limit.

Self-employed earnings

We do not know exactly what is being proposed, but the BBC report says 'more help is set to be given to the self-employed, after warnings they could be left in serious financial trouble because of incorrect assumptions by the Department for Work and Pensions about their earnings.'

It also says that "We can currently offer no assurance that ultimately these proposals will prove to be deliverable, can survive legal challenges where they can be delivered, and do not invite new political criticism by generating new policy issues."
Not all changes result in a need to claim UC !
Every day we hear about someone who has made a claim for UC - because they have been told it is their only option - when in fact they did not need to claim it! Leaving them worse off and struggling with a system that is failing them.

But which ones do?
Only a change that would mean, had UC not rolled out to the claimant's area, they would be looking to make a NEW claim for: Housing Benefit, Tax Credits, Income-Based ESA, Income Support or Income-Related JSA.

Sounds easy - but who needs to make a claim for UC is quite a complex area - and getting it right is crucial.

Giving the wrong advice can result in claimants being worse off and/or seeing a gap in their benefits.

So - as we want to offer you as much help as possible - we have been developing a tool to help - our Need2ClaimUC? Tool.

And it's almost there!

If you have a spare 5 mins this week we would love it if you could take a look and let us know your thoughts.............. send your comments to info@housingsystems.co.uk

Please let us know what you think of our Need2ClaimUC? Tool which is still in development....

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

We hope to launch it properly soon!

click here

Complex Needs - How should the DWP deal with vulnerable claimants?

The roll-out of Universal Credit is now at a stage where many claimants with health conditions or other difficulties are having to claim. Many are struggling to make their claim online or have difficulties with managing what they are expected to do in return for their Universal Credit.

DWP guidance says,
‘When a claimant with complex needs contacts DWP, their customer journey must be equal in quality and outcome to those whose needs are not complex’.

A wide variety of difficulties could fit into the definition of 'Complex Needs', for example claimants with mental illness, physical health problems, reading or writing difficulties or whose first language is not English.

This is what we would expect to happen:

  • Where it is not possible for a claimant with complex needs to make their claim online, their claim could be taken over the phone instead, or if that is not appropriate, a home visit should be arranged by the DWP.
  • Complex needs should be recorded by UC staff on their 'claimant profile' so that other UC staff are aware of any difficulties.
  • The Claimant Commitment should be realistic and achievable for the claimant - therefore it is essential that any complex needs are taken into account when it is drafted, so as to minimise the risk of sanctions.
  • It is arguable that Work Coaches should consider whether special arrangements need to be made regarding appointments at the Jobcentre - eg. arranging appointments at a time when the claimant can be accompanied by a family member or friend, using a private interview room or perhaps speaking over the phone instead of requiring the claimant to attend in person.

It is therefore crucial that claimants explain any difficulties to the DWP.

Many claimants are unaware of the importance of explaining their problems, or are too frightened or embarrassed to mention them.

So we have a new standard letter UC G4 which could help. Claimants can complete it and hand it to their Work Coach, or use it as a prompt to think about what help to request on their journal.

Claimants with a long-term health problem might also be able to rely on their right to 'reasonable adjustments' under the Equality Act 2010. This will be the case if they fit the Equality Act's definition of 'disabled'. Letter UC G3 can be used to request 'reasonable adjustments'.

If the UC Department refuse to make alternative arrangements, you can raise the matter as a complaint. You could use your local Jobcentre escalations route via the Job Centre Team Leader or contact the local DWP Partnership Manager as a starting point. You will need to have 'explicit consent' from the claimant. And if their date of claim was delayed - ask for the first date the claimant made contact with the DWP to ask for their help to be treated as the date of claim.

More information about Complex Needs here and Reasonable Adjustments here.

Click here for more info and letter

Making sure
the SDP
is not missed

The Severe Disability Premium (SDP) is an extra amount which should be included in the assessment for some claimants with care needs (depending on their circumstances) when their Housing Benefit, Income Related ESA, Income Support, Income Based JSA or Guarantee Pension Credit is calculated.

But it is a premium that is often missed...
•Claimants are often unaware that it exists – some have never heard of it, others do not realise they are entitled to it – the rules are quite complicated.
•Different DWP departments do not always ‘talk to each other’. So, when someone is awarded a disability benefit which might mean they could now qualify for the SDP in the assessment of another benefit, the administrative process is not always triggered.
•Some claimants who were transferred from Incapacity Benefit to ESA were not assessed for the SDP (a DWP error).
•A non-dependant moving out of the claimant’s home might trigger entitlement to the SDP – but if the claimant does not notify the appropriate benefit department – they will lose out on the SDP.

• Separation from a partner might trigger entitlement to the SDP - but the appropriate benefit department may not pick up on this.
• Many people talk about the claimant having to 'live alone' to qualify, but there are situations where this is not the case, for instance, where the claimant lives with a non-partner joint tenant, or a non-dependant who is themself disabled.

Missing out on the SDP means losing up to £69.40 pw for single claimants (or couples where one qualifies) or £138.80 pw for couples where both of them qualify.

Different rules under Universal Credit
There is no SDP in Universal Credit, so many claimants who qualify for it in their IR-ESA, IS, IB-JSA or HB are finding themselves considerably worse off when they have a change in their circumstances that triggers the need to claim UC (ie natural migration). In contrast,those who are 'manage-migrated' onto UC from 2019 will receive transitional protection.
An Appeal case, heard earlier this year, highlighted this discrimination and so the government have proposed some new rules (although we do not have an implementation date for this yet). Click here for more information.

Protection against Universal Credit
For existing legacy benefit claimants, there is now even more reason to check if the SDP should be included in their Housing Benefit, Income-Related ESA, Income Support or Income Based JSA!

Getting the SDP in place now could protect a claimant from having to ‘naturally migrate’ onto UC

The government is planning to introduce (soon) a new ‘gateway condition’, to prevent those who have the SDP included in their Housing Benefit, Income-Related ESA, Income Support or Income Based JSA from having to make a new claim for UC. Even if a change occurs in the claimant’s circumstances which would normally trigger the need to claim UC, they will be able to remain on legacy benefits for the time being.

hey will not move onto UC until they are manage-migrated by the DWP later on in the rollout timetable and they should qualify for a Transitional Element when they move over.

Getting the SDP in place now could mean financial protection when they do claim UC
If the claimant’s circumstances trigger the need to claim UC before the new 'gateway condition' is introduced, having the SDP in place now ie before the claim for UC will mean the claimant is more likely to qualify for a Transitional SDP Payment. More on the website here.

When moving home would trigger entitlement to the SDP - if a claim for UC is not made!
Entitlement to the SDP is based on 3 factors: receiving a qualifying disability benefit; not living with non-disabled partner or non-disabled non-dependant and nobody getting paid Carer’s Allowance or Carer Element in UC for looking after the claimant.

You may have a situation similar to the following.
Brian is 40. He is disabled and he receives Employment and Support Allowance and the standard rate daily living component# of Personal Independence Payment. He has been living with his mum who was his carer. Sadly Brian's mum has died but his landlord allows him to remain living in the property whilst they find him smaller accommodation and they set up a use and occupation account.
Taking on a liability to pay housing costs would normally trigger the need to claim UC.
But if Brian does not make a claim for UC straight away, he could request the SDP in his ESA.
•If this happens after the new 'gateway condition' has been introduced......
if Brian gets the SDP included when his ESA is assessed – then he is protected from having to make a new claim for UC and he can then go on to make a claim for HB (he may even possibly get a backdate of up to one month)
•If this happens before the new 'gateway condition' has been introduced......
if Brian delays in making his UC claim for a couple of weeks – to ensure that at least one full ESA ‘benefit week’ has the SDP included, he has given himself the chance of the Transitional SDP Payment – ie extra money in the longer term.
(# qualifying criteria for the SDP). But it would mean receiving no help with the rent during this period (as no new claim for HB will be allowed).

This is an extremely complex matter to advise on. Every situation will need careful consideration to weigh up the options and implications. So please contact us by email for further advice on individual cases.
Find the rules for the Severe Disability Premium in our Housing Benefit pages here.

See our Briefing for more information and commentary on the proposed Transitional SDP Payment
Have you seen our UC Booklet?

It's packed full of useful hints and tips for claimants.

We've distributed 100,000 already!

Find out how to order yours -
click here

New case law.... affects UC

Case law confirms that a withdrawal of a UC claim does not necessarily mean that the UC claim then ceases to exist .......…..

This case (CTC/1276/2018) involved a claimant who had made a claim for UC 'by mistake' and therefore went on to withdraw the claim and hoped that their Tax Credit award would be re-instated.

However, because a stop notice had been issued to HMRC*, who therefore ended the Tax Credit award, there was no going back.

The Judge felt that even though the claimant had gone on to withdraw the UC claim, this could not rewrite history by pretending that the UC claim was never submitted in the first place.

Therefore the decision to close the Tax Credit award was the correct one.

*Reg 8 of the UC (Transitional Provision) Regulations state that a claim for Tax Credits, Housing Benefit and/or Income Support will be closed where the claimant makes a claim for UC and the DWP are satisfied that they meet the basic criteria for it (apart from agreeing a claimant commitment).
These are that they are:

  • Age 18 or over
  • Under Pension Credit age,
  • 'In GB', and
  • Not 'receiving education'.

The Judge felt that the issuing of the stop notice indicated that the DWP was satisfied that the claimant met these criteria.

What are the implications of this decision?

This has always been a grey area, ie. whether someone can withdraw their UC claim and have their Tax Credits, Housing Benefit or Income Support continue / re-instated.

This decision means that we have a clearer picture for those situations where a stop notice has been sent - the answer is 'No'.

So we have to make sure that making a claim for Universal Credit is the right option for the claimant, because once made (and the DWP can issue stop notices the same day) the claimant will not then be able go on to withdraw the claim and have 
their Tax Credits, Housing Benefit or Income Support continue / re-instated.

Link to the case law is available 

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
Have you seen our new video?

Guide to the website.

The video is a quick tour of the Housing Systems website.
Even if you are a frequent user, there may be tools or features you are not aware of....watch this new video to make sure you are not missing anything!

Click here

This month's useful
standard letter

Universal Credit award missing the Housing Costs Element and UC Dept refusing to back pay?
This could be because the claimant answered 'No' to the question on the Universal Credit form 'Do you have housing costs?'
    If the claimant answers 'NO' to the question 'Do you have housing costs.....' and many are (how often have you heard a tenant say "I don't pay rent") then the claim will not ask for any more information about their rent etc and no Housing Costs Element will be included when their Universal Credit award is assessed.
    If this has happened, the claimant needs to explain this on their journal and use Standard Letter UC HM1* to request that the Housing Costs Element is included back to the start of their Universal Credit claim.

    *We have recently updated this letter to take account of the wording on the Full service claim.

    This is not a change in their circumstances (although the UC Dept may ask them to report it as such) so the claimant cannot be told that they are too late reporting it. This is a situation where the initial award wasn't based on the full facts and so the claimant is asking for an 'any grounds' revision.


    For more information and to see what the UC claim asks about housing costs - click here.

    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....

    Leaflet all about how non-dependant deductions work under UC

    Use it to make sure those UC claimants with non-dependants are having the correct Housing Costs Contributions taken from their UC award.

    This is particularly true where the claimant or their partner are getting Daily Living PIP or mid or high rate care DLA - as a glitch in the UC computer system means that many are missing out - more here.

    Find out what other leaflets we produce 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 August's winner - Julie from United Welsh HA
    - a £50 cheque is making its way to her chosen food bank.

    To enter this month's competition, just email the answer to the question below to us by Friday 9th November for your chance to win.

    This month's quiz is about how temporary absences work under Universal Credit.
    Which one of these statements is false?

    A. Where a tenant - who is a UC claimant - goes on remand/ to prison, they will only continue to receive help with their rent via a Housing Costs Element if they are likely to be returning to the property within 6 months.

    B. When a tenant goes on remand / to prison who has not been claiming any benefits, they will not be able to make a new claim for Universal Credit - so even if they are released 2 months later they will receive no help with their rent for these 2 months.

    C. When a tenant goes on remand / to prison, and they are not entitled to help with their rent due to the length of their absence, the UC rules do not allow the DWP to treat anyone else left living in the property as liable for the rent.
    Find your answers here.

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

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