Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.

Newsletters: May 2019

May 2019 Newsletter

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

Also in this issue find out more about:

  • Benefit Cap Court Judgement
  • Updates on the website
  • Welfare Reform training - that will make a difference - Book now!
  • 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! 

Mixed Age Couples
- a window of opportunity?
New rules 
From 15th May, the rules changed for mixed age couples (couples where one member is pension age and the other is working age).

Most* mixed age couples are now prevented from making new claims for Pension Credit and Housing Benefit (under the state pension credit age HB Regulations).

Most* mixed age couples' only option will be to claim Universal Credit if they need extra help with living / housing costs.

Universal Credit is much less generous - and some mixed age couples might find that they don't qualify for any UC when their pension income is taken into account.

But it there is still a 'window of opportunity' for some!

Claims for both Pension Credit and Housing Benefit (under the state pension credit age Regulations) can be automatically backdated up to 3 months. There is no need to show good cause for the delay in claiming.

And the DWP are allowing mixed age couples (who qualify) to make new claims for Pension Credit and Housing Benefit if they can get them backdated to before the rules changes ie before 15th May 2019.

This can make a huge difference to a mixed age couples income now - or could safeguard a higher level of income in the future.

So there is still an opportunity - up to 13th August 2019 - to make a backdated claim - ie a claim which started before the rules changed!

To get a backdate the couple must:
  • Have been a mixed age couple on 14th May 2019, and
  • Be making the claim for Pension Credit and/or Housing Benefit (under the state pension credit age Regulations) on or before 13th August 2019, and 
  • Not have been getting Universal Credit or Income-Related ESA, Income-Based JSA, or Income Support, or Housing Benefit (under the working age Regulations) at any time since 14th May 2019, and 
  • Have been a couple throughout this period, and 
  • Have been entitled to Pension Credit or Housing Benefit (under the state pension credit age Regulations) throughout this period.

(*Some couples will be 'protected' from the change and others will have an alternative to UC - see website for details).
Click here for more on this window of opportunity
Click here for our detailed briefing on the new rules for MACs

We have a NEW
Mixed Age Couples


Order some now to spread the message about backdates -
before it's too late!

Click here to see it in its full glory....

If you do one E-Learning course this year - make sure it's this one ….

You could save a couple over £140 a week!

Click here

Registering an intention to claim UC
When someone needs help with making their Universal Credit claim, they might ask for help at the Jobcentre, or they might seek help from Citizens Advice. (Since 1st April 2019, Citizens Advice have been running the 'Help to Claim' service.)

REMEMBER: The date of claim dictates when the claimant will receive their first payment, but a claim is not made until the claimant has pressed the submit button on the form (for couples it is when the both members have hit the submit button). And delay in submitting the claim means that the claimant will miss out on any UC they are entitled to.

If a claimant asks the DWP for help with making their claim and has to wait until the following day (or later) to receive that help from the DWP eg via a home visit, then the Regulations allow for the date of claim to be the date when the claimant first asked the DWP for that help. So, the date when the UC award starts is the date when the claimant notified the DWP of their intention to claim, instead of the later date when they got the help and submitted the claim.

We have always argued that this rule should apply in the same way when the help was requested from an organisation contracted by the DWP to provide help with making a claim. However, there now appears to be a problem - because the DWP are saying that delays in receiving help from Citizens Advice do not count for this rule.

This issue has been raised with the government by the National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers and the Scottish Social Security Committee. Also, Child Poverty Action Group are asking advisers to report any such cases anonymously to CPAG via their Early Warning System.

Until clarification is provided by the DWP, the best advice for someone who is unable to get the help they need from Citizens Advice on the day they need to submit their UC claim is to either:
  • visit a Jobcentre or
  • call the UC helpline.
If you are helping a claimant who has already missed out because of a delay getting an appointment at Citizens Advice, then they should request a Mandatory Reconsideration of their date of claim on their journal - which we would expect to be turned down and so they will need to take this to appeal. 

Note that in certain circumstances, the DWP can take a claim over the telephone via the offline service - find out more here.


Advising someone who has been found fit for work?

Or helping with an ESA50/UC50 questionnaire?

We've updated our information on the
Work Capability Assessment criteria.

Click here for UC
click here for ESA


EEA Nationals
- HRT Interviews 

If an EEA national needs to make a claim for Universal Credit, they will need to attend a Habitual Residence Test interview at the Jobcentre.

The purpose of the interview is to establish whether the EEA national is eligible to claim UC. There are a series of questions to establish if the claimant is 'actually habitually resident' and has a 'right to reside' or if they have 'permanent residence' status.

The problem for claimants is that, until they are able to prove their status, they cannot receive any Universal Credit or receive an Advance Payment. Often, they attend the interview without knowing what information and evidence is needed. They then have to obtain and supply the evidence after the interview and wait until their case is referred to a decision maker. Delays in getting a decision can leave them without any money for weeks or even months.

So we have come up with a set of letters to help claimants get the evidence together and go prepared to their HRT interview - to speed up the process.

The letters list the documents which could be used as evidence and also state the regulations for each Right to Reside 'status'.

Click here for the letters

Have you seen our new EEA Nationals and UC Help Pack?

Click here to get started....

Benefit Cap
Court Judgement


On May 15th 2019 the Supreme Court ruled, by a 5:2 majority, to refuse an appeal against the benefit cap for single parents with children aged under two. 

This means that the Benefit Cap can be applied to single parents with small children. This is despite the aim of the cap being to incentivise people to look for work, and under the benefit regulations lone parents with young children are not expected to be in work.

What was the basis of the appeal?

The appeal to the Supreme Court was made up of two originally separate appeals: R(DS & others) v SSWP – brought by CPAG on behalf of two single parent families, and R(DA and Others) v SSWP.  The appeal was heard by a seven judge panel.  

The appellants' argument was that the Cap discriminates against lone parents with young children, and that such discrimination is irrational and breaches the Secretary of State for Work & Pensions' obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

This is because parents with young children have less opportunity to work because of their caring responsibilities, and frequently have additional pressures. In the cases considered, some of the children had long term medical conditions; one family had previously fled violence.

The judgment

The judges considered whether any discrimination against single parent families with young children was justifiable. Lady Hale argued that the government failed to strike a fair balance between the benefits of the Cap and the severe damage to the lives of such families where the parents have to choose between working outside the home and not having enough for the family to live on. 

But the majority (5:2) conclusion was that the government’s belief - that there are better long-term outcomes for children in households where an adult works - is a reasonable foundation for treating such families in the same way as everyone else subjected to the Cap.

More info here

We've updated our Benefit Cap leaflet.

It's a great reminder of which families are excluded from the Cap

Click here to see it in its full glory....

Updated leaflets for April 2019
information here

If you would like
some more of our...


Benefit Rates Flyers

.....just let us know.


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 the website/our training brochure for more details of the training we offer.
Our popular in-house courses cost just £965+vat for up to 16 delegates
- that works out at £60+vat per delegate!
Click here for our training brochure

This month's useful
standard letter

Intention to claim Housing Benefit once Severe Disability Premium included in Income Related ESA / Income Based JSA / Income Support.
The SDP Gateway (NOTE: the SDP Gateway no longer applies - it was revoked from 27th January 2021) Condition prevents those who have the Severe Disability Premium in their Income Related ESA / Income Based JSA / Income Support or Housing Benefit from claiming Universal Credit.

Certain changes - such as separating from a partner, or the death of a parent who was the tenant, can mean that a claimant:
  • needs to make a claim for help with rent (or permission to occupy) 
  • they would now qualify for the Severe Disability Premium in their existing award of Income Related ESA / Income Based JSA / Income Support.
So there might be a 'chicken and egg' situation - where the claimant could:
  • claim Universal Credit (if they do not yet have the Severe Disability Premium included in their IR-ESA / IB-JSA / IS),
  • get the Severe Disability Premium included in their existing award of Income Related ESA / Income Based JSA / Income Support and then be able to make a new claim for Housing Benefit - as they now 'fail' the SDP Gateway (NOTE: the SDP Gateway no longer applies - it was revoked from 27th January 2021).
The second option is normally the better option - as the claimant's income is likely to be significantly higher with the SDP included (there is no SDP in UC).

The problem is that if the claimant has to wait for their SDP to be included, this can delay the HB claim being made.

But the 'intention to claim' rules mean that the claimant can notify the HB Office of their intention to claim HB. Then, as soon as their SDP has been added to their IR-ESA / IB-JSA / IS, they can make the HB claim and request that the date of claim is the earlier date, ie. the date when they notified of their intention to claim.

So, we have a new Standard Letter HB SDP1 for claimants to use to notify the HB Office of their intention to claim HB. 


Click here for more info

This month's 
useful 'tool'

In addition to our pocket benefits rates leaflet, we thought it would be useful to have a poster that you can download, print off and stick up somewhere close to your desk.
Click on the link below to see this.....

Click here for the Benefit Rates Poster

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 the April winner - Pamela from Govan 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 21st June 2019 for your chance to win.

This month's quiz question is.....

A large family who are affected by the Benefit Cap are asking for advice.
They currently receive Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Income Based Jobseeker's Allowance, Council Tax Support and (due to the Cap) Housing Benefit of 50p per week. They do not receive any other benefits.
They are moving to a rented property in a different local authority area.
Which of the answers below would be the correct advice for them?

Find information to help you here.

As they are moving to a different local authority area, their only option is to claim Universal Credit. They will probably be worse off due to the way the Benefit Cap works under UC. 

They should consider their options carefully. They do not have to claim Universal Credit. They could be better off financially if they continue with their legacy benefits without any HB.

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

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