Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.

Newsletters: September 2019

September 2019 Newsletter

Welcome to our latest newsletter - bringing you right up to date with useful benefit information.

In this issue find out more about:

  • UC and wages- where two monthly wages are paid in one Assessment Period
  • UC Overpayments- recent queries
  • Help with child care costs- changes ahead on notification time limits
  • SDP Transitional Payments- ACT NOW!
  • Mixed Age Couples-did you see our Briefing?
  • APAs- do you have to agree to managed payments where claimant requests more frequent UC payments?
  • EU Settlement Scheme- what's all the fuss about Settled Status?
  • New standard letters- various topical letters for you to use
  • NEW training course-UC and Limited Capability for Work- 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!

Two monthly wages inone UC assessment period

Universal Credit is assessed in chunks of a month - called'Monthly Assessment Periods' (MAPs) - and it is the earnings which a claimant receives during a Monthly Assessment Period that are counted for that month's UC calculation.

When an employee's normal payday (from work) falls at the weekend (or on a bank holiday), the employer may pay their wages early - say on the last banking day before the normal payday.

This can affect UC claimants whose monthly payday from work normally falls at the start of their UC assessment period. When they are paid 'early' by their employer,those 'early' wages can then fall into the preceding MAP - and because the claimant has already received one month's wages at the start of that MAP the DWP take two wages into account for that MAP!

So, the claimant has one monthly UC award based on two months' wages (which normally means no UC award). Then the following UC assessment can be based on no wages at all.

This can cause budgeting problems - as the claimant does not receive their'top-up' of UC when they were expecting it - and some claimants get less UC overall when this happens. Those who have children or who have / whose partner has a limited capability for work will not benefit from the 'Work Allowance' (earnings disregard) being deducted from both the wages as they would normally do.

Employees could request that their employer inputs the normal payday on the PAYE system - ie even though they may have paid the employee on the Friday, it is perfectly legal to input the Saturday or Sunday on the PAYE system. However, this is not always possible, particularly with large organisations whose payroll system is automated.

A case is going through the courts on this matter. In January 2019, the High Court ruled that, correctly interpreted, the Regulations mean the DWP can and should adjust its calculation of Universal Credit awards when “it is clear that the actual amounts received in an assessment period do not, in fact, reflect the earned income payable in respect of that period
.However the Judge's suggestion as to how this would work - attributing the wage to the MAP in which it was earned - would mean a complex set of backward calculations would need to be done!
The DWP has been granted permission to appeal the High Court's decision in the Court of Appeal. In the meantime, the DWP has said that it is relying on powers in social security law which allow it to continue to apply the law as it stood before the High Court gave its ruling, until the case is finally concluded.

What should claimants do?
Claimants who are worse off financially (some are better off - see below) or who are struggling with their monthly budgeting due to this issue can request a Mandatory Reconsideration of the DWP's decision not to adjust their UC calculation as per the High Court's ruling. They will not get a decision yet though!Their case will be stockpiled until the Court of Appeal's decision is known. However, it is worth requesting the MR now. If they don't, then they will probably miss out on any arrears of UC, if the Court of Appeal supports the High Court's ruling. More info here.

As mentioned above, some claimants can benefit financially from having two monthly wages counted in one MAP and then none in the next. Those who only receive a small top-up of UC each month will lose that small amount of UC in a 'double wages' MAP - but will get the maximum amount of UC when no wages count in the following MAP! So it is important to check this before challenging!

A separate issue is where employers fail to report wages on the PAYE system on time -ie the delay causes wages due in one MAP to fall into the following MAP.There is a separate case law decision on this matter, which should help any UC claimant in this situation: it is the date the wage is received that counts rather than the date the employer reports the payment.
Claimants challenging such decisions should not give up if their Mandatory Reconsideration decision is 'no change' - they could stand a good chance of winning at appeal.
More info on thishere.

An opportunity?
If the claimant does not already get free school meals for their children (because normally their wages are too high for them to qualify)- then they can seize the opportunity to apply for them. And, once they have qualified,this will remain in place for the duration of the child's current stage of education, even if wages increase!They should apply during the monthly assessment period after the one when no wages were counted.
Rules on who qualifies here.

Another option

A claimant has every right to end their claim for UC and then make a new claim with a new Monthly Assessment Period and so avoid the problems discussed above. They should get advice from a benefits adviser before doing this as there can be implications - for instance it would end an existing period of incapacity for work.

CLICK HERE: For more info and standard letters

Universal Credit Overpayments
Recent Questions
Under HB an overpayment should be reduced by any underlying entitlement - does the same apply to Universal Credit?

Yes. When the DWP work out how much UC a claimant has been overpaid they should take into account all the claimant's details for the period of the overpayment.

They will reassess the claimant's entitlement for each Monthly Assessment Period in which the overpayment occurred - but this should be based on all the claimant's true circumstances even if they failed to report these at the time.

If the DWP has failed to do this the claimant can request that the amount of the overpayment be reviewed - see Standard Letter UC OP5.

Click here for more information.

My tenant was due a back payment of UC - the DWP had failed to include the LCW Element when he transferred over to UC from ESA - but he didn't get as much as he was expecting because the DWP have reduced it to pay back a large HB overpayment. Can they do this?

I'm afraid this is looking correct......but could perhaps be challenged.

The Social Security (Overpayments and Recovery) Regulations 2013 allow a HB overpayment to be recovered from a claimant's UC.

Reg 11 para 2 states that this would be recovered by deductions from on-going UC payments at a set percentage of the standard allowance.

However Reg 11 para 8 states:

(8) The limitations in paragraph (2) do not apply where the deduction falls to be made from any payment of arrears on universal credit other than arrears caused by the operation of regulation 46 of the Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Jobseekers Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2013 (making of payments which have been suspended).

This means that, unless the inclusion of the LCW Element was suspended for one of the reasons outlined below (ie under Reg 46 of the UC etc (D&A) Regs), then the DWP can reduce an arrears payment due by any outstanding HB (or IS, ESA, JSA, PIP...) overpayment.

Reg 46 of the UC etc (D&A) Regs state that the DWP can suspend all or part of a UC award where:

The DWP are unsure whether the claimant is actually entitled to it, or
The DWP are considering making a supersession decision, or
The claimant is awaiting the outcome of an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal,Upper Tier Tribunal etc, or
Because the DWP require further info/evidence.

So whether the claimant can challenge the decision will depend on why the LCWRA wasn't in payment

Often it's due to DWP error - ie it should have been included but wasn't. In such cases it seems very unfair to deduct the full overpayment, where, had the DWP included the LCW correctly from the start, then the normal deduction percentage's would have applied.
CLICK HERE: For more info on UC Overpayments

Help with Childcare Costs
New regulations, in force from 16 October, will allow more time for Universal Credit claimants to report their childcare costs.

Currently, if someone pays for childcare within a Monthly Assessment Period (MAP), but does not report this to the DWP by the end of that MAP, then no Childcare Cost Element can be included for that MAP. (Unless the DWP accept that there was a good reason for the delay in reporting).

From 16 October 2019 the deadline to report childcare costs will be extended - the childcare costs must be reported before the end of the MAP that follows the MAP in which they were paid.

It is not clear how this will work in practice. We assume that where someone has not reported their childcare costs by the end of the MAP in which they were paid, then the UC award will be paid on the normal payday, but without the Childcare Cost Element. Then, once the childcare costs have been reported within the following MAP, we assume that a one-off separate payment will be made.

The government has also provided information about the type of help that is available for up-front childcare costs.

In a written answer to Parliament on 5 September 2019, Employment Minister Mims Davies provided further details on this:

The Flexible Support Fund can be used to pay 100% of the upfront childcare costs (up to the set limits) that a claimant incurs between starting work and receiving their first wage.
This is paid directly to the childcare providers and is not repayable.
It can include help with a deposit or retainer, advance fees and taster sessions.
Once a claimant has received their first wage, Work Coaches can offer Budgeting Advances (where the claimant is eligible) to help pay for further upfront childcare costs. This could help during school holidays, when there is a change of childcare provider, or additional childcare in order to increase work hours. Budgeting Advances are repayable, however once the childcare is paid for, a Childcare Costs Element can be included in the UC award.

CLICK HERE: For more info on who can get help with their childcare costs

Students and UC

The rules under UC are complicated....watch out for our improved info and tools - coming soon!

SDP Transitional Payments

Any UC claimant who thinks they may be entitled to the SDP Transitional Payment should request it now.

If they wait and then have a change in their circumstances that means they are no longer entitled they will miss out.

We recently heard of a UC claimant who had lost the SDP when they moved onto UC last year, whose new partner was due to move in. After reading the article in our last newsletter, their housing officer suggested they make a request for the SDP Transitional Payment on their journal asap.

A few days later they received a back payment of nearly £3,500.

Had they not made that request on their journal before their partner moved in - they would not have been entitled to receive that payment.

CLICK HERE: For more info on the SDP Transitional Payment scheme

Mixed Age Couples
- your recent queries

Recent Briefing

We recently published a Briefing highlighting some of the more complex mixed age couple cases we have recently advised you on...

It starts:
'Having worked with the benefit systems for over 30 years we have never seen such a complex set of rules, which give claimants options, and where, if they take the wrong one they can be left significantly worse off with no way back.
This places a huge responsibility on advisers!'

If you missed it - click on the button below.

TOP TIPS for mixed age couples

If a mixed age couple has no option but to claim UC...watch out for:

1.Couples on IR-ESA, older member main claimant, become a mixed age couple when older member turns pension age.
If they claim UC before the IR-ESA ends ie before they turn pension age (even if this is just a day before) then the work capability decision linked to their ESA award should transfer over to the UC award.
If they claim UC after the IR-ESA ends - even if this is just the next day - then the ESA claimant's period of incapability has ended and any WRAG component will be lost forever, and there will be a four month wait for any LCWRA Element (unless terminally ill).
Click here for more information

2.Older member of a mixed age couple on UC, pension age andgetting PIP, DLA or AA?
Then the UC Regs treat them as having a Limited Capability for Work (LCW) or Limited Capability for Work and Work Related Activities (LCWRA).
This will mean that if their partner is working, then a work allowance should be applied when their entitlement is assessed.
AND - as long as they provide a fit note - if they are treated as having a LCWRA their UC award should include a LCWRA Element after four months.
Click here for more information.

We have recently updated and improved the information on the website about mixed age couples - if you have a spare 15 minutes why not take a look? You'll be amazed -click here.

CLICK HERE: For our MAC: Recent Queries briefing

Test your knowledge

on the new rules and how they affect
Mixed Age Couples

It only takes 10 minutes!
CLICK HERE: To take the test!

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

APA managed payments
Where the DWP agree to pay UC more frequently than monthly they also put into place a managed payment to the landlord.

Does the landlord have to agree?

When a UC claimant asks to have their UC paid more frequently than monthly this then triggers an APA managed payment request to the landlord.

There is nothing in the UC Regulations that states that the more frequent payment has to trigger an APA managed payment - although the guidance says that an APA managed payment to the landlord should be considered.

Guidance states that the APA MP should only be put into place if it is in the 'best interests' of the claimant and their family. So if it is clearly not in a claimant's best interests it might be worth considering asking the DWP not to set up an APA managed payment in their case.

However you have to weigh up the pros and cons - will the claimant manage paying their rent twice a month when they receive their UC payments? And each time you'll be wanting them to pay 1/2 month's worth of rent plus arrears payments (worked out on a monthly basis). Is this easier to manage than having the APA managed payments? This will depend on the circumstances of the tenant.

CLICK HERE: For more info on Alternative Payment Arrangements

EU Settlement Scheme and Settled Status
What's the fuss all about?

The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) has been introduced by the government to provide EEA nationals (and their families) with the Immigration Status they will need to continue to live, work, study and claim certain benefits in the UK following Brexit.

In simple terms, it is the way that an EEA national living in the UK can protect their rights to live, work, study and claim certain benefits - including Universal Credit and Housing Benefit - following the UK leaving the EU.

On making a successful application an EEA national will be given either:

Settled Status, or
Pre-settled Status.

In summary:

An EEA national who can show they’ve been residing continuously* in the UK for at least 5 years gets Settled Status, which is a form of ‘Indefinite leave to Remain’ and so allows them to receive UC/HB.

Whereas an EEA national who can’t show they’ve been residing continuously* in the UK for at least 5 years gets Pre-settled Status, which is a form of ‘Limited Leave to Remain’ – it is not only limited in time but limited in that it does not of itself allow someone to claim UC/HB. It does, however, allow them to live, work and study in the UK until they have been in the UK 5 years – when they can apply to have it converted to Settled Status.
*Gaps of 6 months in any 12 month period are allowed.

The Government has stated that, although it intends to repeal free movement at some point after Brexit, existing benefit rules will continue for EEA nationals who haven’t applied for the EUSS after free movement ends up to a set date. Further details on this policy have not yet been announced.

The end of free movement may, however, affect the rules on access to benefits for those who arrive in the UK after Brexit, although currently it is unclear how or to what extent.

CLICK HERE: For more info

We've updated our

UC:Get the facts


See it in its full glory

Click here

More new Standard Letters

Over the summer we have been busy creating a load of new standard letters and adding them to the website.

Mixed Age Couples

Request to review decision to impose a Bedroom Tax reduction on a mixed age couple able to claim working age HB due to 'failing' the UC SDP Gateway (NOTE: the SDP Gateway no longer applies - it was revoked from 27th January 2021)s.

Click here for more information.

Request to review decision not to accept HB claim made on or before 13th August 2019 by mixed age couple entitled to have claim backdated to before 15th May 2019.

Click here for more information.

Request for HB to continue, becoming a mixed age couple but fail SDP Gateway (NOTE: the SDP Gateway no longer applies - it was revoked from 27th January 2021).
Click here for more information.

Universal Credit and Limited Capability for Work

Request to be treated as having a LCWRA as pension age and getting AA, enhanced DL PIP or high rate care DLA and start relevant period.
Click here for more information.

Request to be treated as having a LCW/LCWRA as pension age and getting AA, PIP or DLA and include work allowance / childcare costs disregard in award.
Click here for more information.

Request to include LCWRA Element from MAP during which NS-ESA main phase started and entitled to Support Component.
Click here for more information.

Mandatory Reconsideration to include LCWRA Element from MAP during which NS-ESA main phase started and entitled to Support Component.
Click herefor more information.

Universal Credit - How Much

Mandatory Reconsideration against decision not to include a Carer Element even though Carers Allowance in payment following death of person being cared for.
Click here for more information.

Request for Transitional SDP Payment.
Click here for more information.

Universal Credit and Overpayments

Request for amount of overpayment to be reassessed to take account of all facts ie underpayment during op period.
Click here for more information.

Universal Credit and Changes in Circumstances

Request for reinstatement of Income Support due to reinstatement of Carers Allowance.
Click here for more information.

Request UC paid up to date before reached PC age as made Advance claim for PC.
Click here for more information.

Universal Credit - Challenging Decisions

Request for written notification of a UC decision.
Click here for more information.

CLICK HERE: To access over 150 Universal Credit standard letters

NEW: Training course

Universal Credit and
Limited Capability for Work

What is this course about?
An in-depth course for those who support claimants with health issues. This course will equip delegates with a comprehensive understanding of how to advise and assist Universal Credit claimants who have a limited capability for work. It looks at the complexities of the system, and where claimants are being let down by poor administration / decisions.
By using real case studies throughout, it gives delegates the information and confidence they need to help their clients avoid problems and spot where things have gone wrong to quickly put them right.

Click herefor more information

Sound interesting?- get a date booked in!
email: training@housingsystems.co.uk
In-house course for just £965+vat
(no hidden extras)!
CLICK HERE for our training brochure

This month's
useful 'tool'

Have you seen our....

EEA Nationals and UC Mapping Tool

The rules around which EEA Nationals can claim UC are extremely complex!

We have produced our mapping tool to help you when advising your customers.

The tool quickly guides you to the possible routes (and there may be more than one!) to eligibility for UC - with links to standard letters in our EEA Nationals Toolkit.

CLICK HERE to have a look...

This month's useful
standard letter

Getting a Housing Cost Element included in UC where living in sheltered (but not 'specified') accommodation
Many residents who live in sheltered housing schemes manage their daily life and have either no or minimal care / support / supervision.

A common problem for UC claimants who live in sheltered accommodation provided by a Housing Association is that the DWP (in most cases incorrectly) say that they should claim Housing Benefit for help with their rent.

The DWP frequently state that all sheltered and supported housing schemes count as 'specified accommodation'. But it is much more complex than that! Many who live in sheltered schemes would not fit the definition of living in 'specified accommodation' and should be getting a Housing Cost Element within their UC award instead.

The problem is that it is the Housing Benefit Office's job - not the DWP's- to decide whether the claimant fits the definition of living in 'specified accommodation' - or not. And usually this means making a HB claim in order to get this decision!

Claimants in this situation can use standard letter 
UC SP2 to notify the DWP that they have asked the HB Office to look into this and to request that,once a decision is made that they are not living in 'specified accommodation', the Housing Cost Element can be awarded from the Monthly Assessment Period during which the claimant moved into the accommodation or claimed UC(whichever is applicable).

CLICK HERE for more info and standard letter

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 July/August winner - Tracey from Harrow Churches Housing Association
- 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 11th October 2019 for your chance to win.

This month's quiz .....

Fill in the gaps:

Where a claimant has received help from the Citizens Advice 'Help to Claim' service the date of their UC claim is .................................... rather than ....................................................

Where someone is unable to get help from Citizens Advice on the day they need to submit their Universal Credit claim they should either

Find the answer on the website here.

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

Using the links in the newsletter
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