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Newsletters: February 2020

February 2020 Newsletter

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

In this issue find out more about:

  • Issues for UC claimants turning pension age - the UC system is failing them!
     
  • Transition to UC Housing Payment - some claimants are missing out.
     
  • Failed to attend PIP medical assessment? - New grounds to challenge for some.
     
  • No new Post Office card accounts  - But UC can still be paid into an existing PO card account.
     
  • Bereavement Support  Payment - Court Decision: discrimination” to determine a person’s eligibility for the payment based on their marital status.
     
  • UC Deductions - The latest statistics.
     
  • This Month's Standard Letter  - Reduction of UC overpayment when CA backpaid. 
     
  • E-Learning Zone  - new for 2020! 

  • Your chance to WIN £50 for your local FOOD BANK and chocolates for you!
Issues for UC claimants turning PC age -
the UC system is failing!

There are several problems connected with UC and turning pension age. Here are a couple of them – with top tips on what to advise.

1. When a single UC claimant turns pension age, their UC award stops from the beginning of that Monthly Assessment Period. 

UC is for working age people and a change in circumstances counts from the beginning of the Monthly Assessment Period (MAP) in which the change occurs.

As a result, UC claimants turning pension age can find that they have a huge gap in income as their UC award will end from the beginning of the MAP in which they turn pension age.

This means that if they reach pension age towards the end of their MAP, they could lose almost a whole month’s UC – ie money to live on and pay the rent!
Not receiving their UC payment on the expected date also comes as an unexpected, unpleasant surprise!

Although they will start to receive their State Pension (and might be entitled to Pension Credit and / or Housing Benefit) they will have to wait for these to start being paid - and they would only be awarded from the date they turned pension age. The new State Pension is normally paid within 5 weeks of turning pension age.

But did you know that the UC Regulations do allow for a part-month final payment of UC in certain circumstances?

The UC, PIP, JSA & ESA Decisions and Appeals Regs 2013, Schedule 1, para 26 allows for a pro-rata payment of UC, for the number of days up to reaching pension age - if the claimant has made an advance claim for Pension Credit.

But many claimants are missing out on this because:

  • they don’t know about the part-month final UC payment and how to get it

or

  • they have tried to make an advance claim for PC, but the Pension Service has refused to accept their claim because, based on the amount of State Pension they are due to be paid, they will not qualify for any Pension Credit.

But this then means that the claimant loses out on their chance of getting their final UC payment! 

So make sure UC claimants approaching pension age know about making an advance claim for Pension Credit - even if they are unlikely to qualify for it - by making the claim, they satisfy the UC Regulations and can then ask for their pro-rata final UC payment. 

Anyone who has problems getting the Pension Service to accept their PC claim should make a complaint.

We would like to see the rules changed - to allow for an automatic part-MAP final payment of UC - ie removing the need for an advance PC claim. We have already been highlighting this issue.

Mark Tami MP has tabled Early Day Motion on this matter – you can ask your local constituency MP to sign it. 

We have more info on this issue here.


2.  When the older member of a couple, who has been the main claimant of Income Related ESA for them both, turns pension age 

On turning pension age their ESA and Housing Benefit will terminate*. 
The pension age member of the couple will start to receive their State Pension (and possibly other pension income).
As a new mixed age couple, they cannot make a claim for Pension Credit or Housing Benefit#.
If the pension income is not enough for the couple to live on (and pay their rent), they can try for Universal Credit. 

The problem is that if they have not already made their claim for UC before the older member turned pension age, their LCW / LCWRA status will not ‘transfer across’ to their UC award.

This could mean losing out on over £1000 as they have to start the process again!
Or losing the LCW Element forever (if they had been getting the WRAG Component in ESA).

We would like to see an amendment to the Regulations to remove this problem – but for now the best advice to couples in this situation is to claim UC before the older member of the couple reaches pension age – so that their LCW/LCWRA status can transfer over to UC.

* Unless they 'fail' the SDP gateway 
# If they are living in specified or temporary accommodation - they would claim HB for help with their rent.

More details here

Latest Briefing

All about:
Universal Credit and turning Pension Age

Click here
Transition to UC Housing Payments
 
When someone on Housing Benefit makes a new claim for UC, then they may be entitled to the 2 week Transition to UC Housing Payment.

What is it?

The Transition to UC Housing Payment is also called the 'Two week HB run-on'.
It aims to help claimants transition from HB to UC. Rather than their HB ending the day before the date of claim for UC, it ends two weeks later - and during those 2 weeks they are treated as entitled to UC and therefore the HB awarded should be the maximum that they are entitled to (with special rules for those affected by the Benefit Cap).

But many claimants miss out!

Make sure claimants don't miss out on this payment, and do receive the correct amount.

Moved LA area?
Where the trigger for the UC claim was because they moved LA area then the Transition to UC Housing Payment should be paid directly to the claimant. But often their old HB Office does not have the details to do this.
We have a standard letter HB UC6 - that a claimant can use to request the payment from their old HB Office if they have not received it.

Claim for UC failed?
Even if their initial claim for UC failed the claimant should still be entitled to the Transition to UC Housing Payment - there is nothing in the rules that says the UC claim has to be successful.

Benefit Cap
A family affected by the Benefit Cap could initially be awarded a Transition to UC  Housing Payment based on the fact that their HB award needs to be capped. But if they are awarded UC for the same period - and their UC award is capped - the cap should be lifted from the Transition to UC Housing Payment and arrears should be paid. 

When would the HB Office be correct not to award a Transition to UC Housing Payment?

The claimant will not be entitled to a Transition to UC Housing Payment where:
  • They were not the main HB claimant
  • They moved to join a partner who is already on UC
  • They moved out of 'specified' or 'temporary' accommodation (although they may be able to get HB for their notice period instead)
  • The HB award ended before they made their UC claim.
Click here for more information

Failure to attend PIP medical assessment
If someone fails to attend their PIP medical assessment without good reason, their PIP claim (or review award) can be disallowed.

A new Upper Tribunal decision has stated that a particular standard letter which was being sent by Atos, the company providing the medical assessments, was too ambiguous and therefore there was no legal obligation to attend the medical assessment.

The letter said:
‘It is important that you attend this appointment. If you fail to attend without good reason the decision maker at the Department for Work and Pensions is likely to disallow your claim. If you can’t attend please contact our Customer Service Centre straightaway on [phone number to be inserted].’

But the Upper Tribunal Judge in CPIP/2941/2018   [2019] UKUT 374 (AAC) said ‘it needed to be clear and unambiguous about the mandatory nature of the requirement, e.g.: 'You must attend this appointment. If you fail to attend without good reason the decision maker at the Department for Work and Pensions will disallow your claim.'

Anyone who has had their PIP award disallowed within the last 13 months, due to failure to attend their medical, should check if their medical appointment letter contained the same wording. If it did, they are not too late to request a late Mandatory Reconsideration of the decision.

No new Post Office Card Accounts
 
It is no longer possible to set up a new Post Office Card Account.

The only option open to a claimant who has no bank account at all and is unable to open one will be the Payment Exception Service.

The DWP's contract with Post Office Limited for the Post Office Card Account is due to end in November 2021. From 2021, there will be a replacement, for both the PO Card Accounts and the Payment Exception Service, although as yet no detail is available on this.
Click here for more info on the options a UC claimant has if they don't have a bank account.
2020 Wallplanner

Would you like one of our 2020 Wallplanners?

Just drop us an email - info@housingsystems.co.uk

and let us know how many you would like.
Bereavement Support Payment
Court decision

 
The government's Bereavement Support Payment breaches human rights law, a court has ruled, because unmarried parents living together are unable to benefit from this financial support if one of them dies.

The High Court in
 Jackson & Ors v SSWP [2020] EWHC 183 said that it was “discrimination” to determine a person’s eligibility for the payment based on their marital status. 

The Judge said there was “manifestly no reasonable justification whatsoever” for a bereaved parent to qualify for a maximum of £5,500 if they were married or in a civil partnership with the other parent who died, but not if they lived with them. 

The impact of the death upon the child or children, and the financial and other needs of the children, are precisely the same...” Mr Justice Holman said.

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “We will be considering the judgment very carefully.” And so far  the Regulations have not been amended.

Any bereaved parent (ie of a dependent child / young person) who believes they meet the conditions for Bereavement Support Allowance apart from them having been married to / in a civil partnership with their deceased partner should make a claim for it now rather than wait until the DWP have decided what to do. Whether they will be entitled to or not depends on the DWP's next move and the eventual outcome.

 
Click here to find out more about the Bereavement Support Payment
Housing Systems Conference

 

Universal Credit
Taking on the Challenge


Coming soon - click here for more information

Universal Credit Deductions -
the latest statistics

 
In the latest period for which figures are available (the month of August 2019), £1.3 billion of Universal Credit was paid, of which £94 million (7%) was deducted.

The table below provides a breakdown of the deductions by reason:

 

Deduction reason

Value of Deductions (£)

UC advance repayments

50,252,000

Tax Credit overpayments

14,295,000

DWP overpayments

8,042,000

Social fund loans

5,466,000

Arrears of rent and/or service charges

5,001,000

Fines

4,931,000

HB overpayments

1,771,000

Arrears of Community Charge or Council Tax

1,285,000

UC Recoverable Hardship payments

843,000

DWP Fraud overpayments

742,000

Fuel and Water Ongoing consumption

615,000

Child maintenance

527,000

Arrears of water charges

273,000

HB and DWP Civil Penalties

121,000

HB Fraud overpayments

113,000

HB and DWP Administrative Penalties

76,000

Arrears of fuel (electric and gas)

67,000

Arrears of Eligible loans

51,000

Arrears of Integration loans

44,000

Tax Credit Fraud overpayments

1,000

Mortgage interest

less than 500

Deductions include advance repayments, third party deductions and all other deductions, but exclude sanctions and fraud penalties which are reductions of benefit rather than deductions.

The maximum that can be deducted from a claimant's UC award dropped from 40% to 30% of the claimant's Standard Allowance last year


 
Deductions causing hardship? Click here to find out what a claimant can do.
Did you see our last Briefing

All about:
Exempt Accommodation and Housing Benefit

Click here
This Month's Standard Letter
 
Each month we like to remind you about one of our many standard letters.
This month we are highlighting - 

UC CC4: AWARD OF CARERS ALLOWANCE - REQUEST FOR INCLUSION OF CARER ELEMENT AND REDUCTION OR OVERPAYMENT

Question: One of our tenants has just been awarded Carers Allowance that has been back paid 3 months. This now means that she has been overpaid UC. Looking on her UC account we can see that the CA has been included as unearned income but the DWP have not included a Carer Element for the same period - should they have done?

Answer:  Paragraph 31 of Schedule 1 of the UC etc (Decisions and Appeals ) Regs states that the Carer Element that a claimant becomes entitled to because they (or their partner) are awarded a qualifying benefit (in this case Carers Allowance) should be included in their UC assessment back to the Monthly Assessment Period in which the qualifying benefit was awarded.
So she should request a Mandatory Reconsideration of the amount of the overpayment asking the DWP to re-calculate her entitlement for this period to include the Carer Element and reduce the overpayment accordingly. See our standard letter UC CC4.


 
Letter UC CC4 can be found here.
New E-Learning Zone
Our range of engaging and inspiring UC E-Learning courses is perfect for gaining new knowledge or keeping your existing knowledge fresh and up to date.

And we've just added another course:


SDP Gateway - how it works

With more on the way:

Making a successful claim (for UC): March 2020

An introduction to UC: March 2020

EEA Nationals and UC: April 2020

Housing Costs and UC : May 2020


Written by experts, they are aimed at those working in the housing profession and advice sectors.

You can either take out an annual subscription that will allow you and your colleagues access to all the courses (plus those being added) for a full year.
Annual subscriptions start from just £750+vat (and that's for everyone!)

Or you can purchase the courses individually: Click Here


Each course is packed full of commentary, case studies and interactive quizzes that make learning fun.

 
CLICK HERE to find out more

Why not follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn?

Keep yourself up to date and find out what we're up to!

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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 our January  winner - Laura from Your Housing Group - a £50 cheque is making its way to her chosen food bank.

To enter this month's competition, just email your entry to us by Friday 13th March 2020 for your chance to win.

This month's competition question -

Sasha lives with her son - who is age 20 and working full time. He earns £315 gross a week.

Sasha works part-time, she isn't claiming any benefits.

Under HB there would have been a large non-dependant deduction for her son.

If she were to make a claim for Universal Credit how much would the non-dependant deduction be?

A. £80.55 a week

B. £35.85 a week

C. £73.89 a month

D. No deduction

Find your answer here

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

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