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Newsletters: June 2020

 

 

June 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:

  • Coronavirus and Benefits Update - new announcements you may have missed.
     
  • Surplus Earnings rules - who could be affected?
     
  • UC and payments on finishing work - which payments affect a UC award? 
     
  • Struggling to get DWP to change a UC decision? - new case law that may help.
     
  • Number of PIP claims reduced PIP claimants now have 3 months to complete the claiming process
     
  • No Recourse to Public Funds? -  some can get this restriction lifted.
     
  • Don't forget - the new two week run on of IS / IR-ESA / IB-JSA.
     
  • Need Accurate and up to date UC advice for your customer facing website? - then take a look at our new UC Pages.

  • Your chance to WIN £50 for your local FOOD BANK and chocolates for you!

Coronavirus & Benefits Update
Announcements you may have missed.......
  • Many of the easements that were introduced due to the Coronavirus outbreak are set to end in June - see separate article below.
     
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.  The scheme, which pays grants to employers who have 'furloughed' their workers, was originally set to last until the end of June 2020 but has now been extended until October but with some changes. More details here.
     
  • Second SEISS grant. The government has announced that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has been extended for a second and final time. The second payment - due in August - will cover the three months of June, July and August. It will be worth 70% of the applicant's average monthly profits over the last three years up to a maximum of £2,190 a month. More info here
     
  • Statutory Sick Pay. A person who has been notified that they have had contact with a person with Coronavirus, and who is self-isolating for 14 days from the latest date on which that contact occurred, or from a date specified in the latest notification, will be deemed to be incapable of work for the purposes of Statutory Sick Pay.  This additional category of person was added from 28 May. More info here.
     
  • UC Reclaims easement. Until 21st May a Universal Credit claimant would have had to have made a reclaim for Universal Credit after their Universal Credit award dropped to nil due to earnings, but the DWP have changed the rules so that they no longer need to reclaim. Instead, the DWP will continue to assess the claimant's entitlement for a maximum of 5 Assessment Periods (although a self-employed claimant will need to provide details of their income and allowable expenses to enable the DWP to do this assessment). The change could help some who are affected by the surplus earnings rules. More info here.
     
  • Free school meals to be available for the 6 week summer holidays period. This is the case for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and (following the much publicised government U-turn) in England. Most eligible families will receive a voucher covering 6 weeks, which can be used in supermarkets. More info here.
Click here for more information on what's changed
Coronavirus and Benefits

E-Learning

OPEN ACCESS: Have you taken the course yet?
Click here

Coronavirus Easements Ending?
 
At the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak the government set in place a number of easements - these were either due to social distancing measures or to help the DWP deal with the unprecedented number of new UC claims.

Many of these easements are set to end in June - no further information was available on the day this newsletter was published about whether any of them were to be extended further (keep an eye on our News Headlines for updates):
  • Attending interviews at the Jobcentre - All requirements to attend appointments at the Jobcentre in person were suspended for 3 months, starting from Thursday 19 March 2020. Jobcentres have remained open, but only for the most vulnerable claimants such as homeless people, and by appointment only.
     
  • Face-to-face assessments for health and disability benefits were suspended from 17th March 2020 for an initial period of three months. On 9th June the government announced that they were in the process of reviewing this measure in light of the latest public health advice and would confirm the next steps as soon as possible.
     
  • Suspension of benefit reviews and reassessments for Universal Credit (LCW/LCWRA), Employment and Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payment were in place up to 24th June 2020. On 16th June the government announced that they were in the process of reviewing this measure and would confirm the next steps as soon as possible.
     
  • Work search and availability requirements were suspended for three months from 30th March 2020 - so are due to end on 29th June 2020. The Regulations introducing this suspension do allow the government to extend this - but no announcement has yet been made. As the economy is slowly beginning to open up it could be that the government decide not to extend it, although any work search and availability requirements imposed on a UC claimant will need to be reasonable and reflect their personal circumstances.
     
  • Recovery of certain debts was suspended from 3rd April 2020 for 3 months - this was so that the DWP could redeploy staff to help with the high volume of new claims they were receiving at that time. As the number of new claims has dropped, it could be that this suspension is lifted and claimants will begin to see these deductions again for assessments made on or after 3rd July 2020.

Other Easements still in place that were introduced on 13th March 2020 and due to last eight months ie up to 12th November 2020 are:

SSP / ESA
Changes that meant SSP and NS-ESA is paid from day one, and that those 'self-isolating' are treated as incapable of work.

Suspension of the Minimum Income Floor
Self-employed workers claiming Universal Credit will not have the minimum income floor imposed - their UC award will be based on their actual earnings. 

Jobseekers Allowance
Those getting Jobseekers Allowance are treated as being capable of work when 'self-isolating'. This period will not therefore be counted as a period of sickness and a JSA claimant will not lose entitlement to Jobseeker’s Allowance because of Coronavirus disease.

Carers Allowance
Carers remain entitled to Carers Allowance if they have a temporary break in caring as a result of either the carer or the person being cared for having to 'self-isolate'.


UC and the Surplus Earnings Rules

The Universal Credit ‘surplus earnings’ rules may affect some Universal Credit claimants if they receive a large payment of earnings from work. This includes those self-employed workers receiving a grant from the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, put in place due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
 
These rules are quite complex. But basically they mean that an award of Universal Credit can include earnings that have been carried forward from a previous assessment. This will only happen where a claimant’s earnings are so high that their Universal Credit award was reduced to nil.
 
The surplus earnings rules exist to make the system fair to all claimants regardless of how or when their earnings are paid. These rules make sure that those claimants who receive large payments from work once or twice a year, such as a bonus or dividend, don’t receive more Universal Credit than someone with the same annual income who gets paid the same amount of earnings every month. 
 
Surplus Earnings arise when the claimant's earnings are £2500 more than the level at which they would take the claimant off Universal Credit - called the 'relevant threshold'. Only when a claimant’s UC has been reduced to nil and their earnings are higher than their ‘relevant threshold’ will the Surplus Earnings rules take effect.
 
The DWP will work out the surplus earning figure - the amount by which the claimant’s earnings exceeded their ‘relevant threshold’ - and these will be carried forward to the following Assessment Period and added to any other earnings received. If this award is also reduced to nil, and there are some surplus earnings, these will be carried forward to the next Assessment Period and so on for a maximum of 5 Assessment Periods.

Before the Coronavirus outbreak the number of claimants estimated to be affected by this rule was quite small - but we have now seen an unprecedented number of claims for Universal Credit within a very short period. Many of these claimants will be self-employed and will receive a Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant payment*, or if furloughed they may get paid some of their earnings later than normal. This will mean there will be a larger number of claimants affected than originally envisaged.
 
This does not mean that everyone who has had a large payment of earnings in an assessment period will be affected by the surplus earnings rules – it all depends on their personal circumstances.
 
If a claimant has been affected by the Surplus Earnings Rules they should: 

  • Check that their Max UC figure is correct – mistakes are often made
  • Check that the Surplus Earnings rules do apply in their case
  • Check that they have been worked out correctly (check what has been classed as earnings).
  • Check that their claim is being reassessed every month: although from May 2020 this should be happening automatically, it is still worth them checking that it is.
Click here for more information on self-employed and Tax Credits
Have you seen
our new Surplus Earnings video?  
click here
Have you seen
our new Surplus Earnings Calculator?  
click here
Want to know more about the Surplus Earnings Rules?

Online Workshop

Get booked on to our popular Workshop:

Added date: Friday 3rd July 10am - 12noon
Just £49+vat per delegate - click here for more info.

UC and Payments on finishing work 
 
When someone makes a claim for UC after finishing work they may be entitled to receive various different payments from their employer.

We have summarised whether these payments count as earnings or capital for Universal Credit in the table below.

Claimants should check to ensure that the DWP don't take into account as earnings any payment that should count as capital!

 
Counts as EarningsCounts as Capital
Final wagesRedundancy Pay
Holiday payAwards for unfair dismissal
Pay in lieu of notice (unless for damages for breach of contract)Pay in lieu of notice for damages for breach of contract
Lump sum SMP 
Tax refund 
Refund of pension contributions 
  


EXAMPLE:
Sophie finished work on 12th May 2020. She made a claim for Universal Credit the next day. On 30th May she received a payment of £3,500 from her employer. This was in respect of £600 final wages, £400 holiday pay and £2,500 redundancy. The DWP took the whole of the £3,500 payment into account as earnings when they assessed her award on 12th June. This meant that she was only awarded £150 for the period 13th May - 12th June. Luckily her Housing Officer spotted the DWPs mistake and helped her request a Mandatory Reconsideration on her journal - requesting that the £2,500 redundancy payment be correctly taken as savings and not earnings. The DWP reassessed her entitlement for this period and awarded her an extra £1,575 Universal Credit.

NOTE: It can sometimes be better for the claimant to delay making their claim for UC until after they've received their final payments from work, but it all depends on their personal circumstances, the payment/s they are due and when these are due to be paid.
More information here...
Lost Job? Benefits during Coronavirus

Online Workshop

Get booked on to our popular Workshop:

Added date: Friday 26th June 10am - 12noon
Just £49+vat per delegate - click here for more info.
Struggling to get DWP to change a UC decision?  
A recent decision by an Upper Tribunal will help many UC claimants who wish to challenge a Universal Credit decision but who have struggled to get the DWP to follow the normal procedures for doing so.

If they have not been notified that they must request a Mandatory Reconsideration before submitting an appeal, then that requirement does not exist, and they can go straight for an appeal without the need for the DWP to review their decision first.
More information - here
Challenging UC Decisions

Online Workshop

Get booked on to our popular Workshop:

Added date: Wednesday 22nd July 2pm - 4pm
Just £49+vat per delegate - click here for more info.

PIP - number claiming is down

Anyone looking to make a claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) should register their intention as soon as possible - they then have 3 months to complete the claiming process.

The number of people making new claims for Personal Independence Payment has dramatically reduced since the start of the Coronavirus outbreak. In April 2020, there were 25,000 registrations for new claims. A drop of over 50% of the level a year earlier and the lowest number since December 2013.

Many believe this is due to the difficulties claimants have accessing support and medical evidence.

IMPORTANT: PIP cannot be backdated but will be awarded from the date a claimant requests a claim as long as they return the PIP2 'How your disability affects you' form by the deadline given. This has been extended to three months from the date of request.

So claimants should not delay registering - even if they cannot currently access help completing it. They should ring for the form and access the help they need as soon as this is available.
If they are unable to access the help they need within the 3 month limit they should let the DWP know who can agree to an extension to the time limit for returning it.

Contacting the DWP by telephone

Telephone: 0800 917 2222
Textphone: 0800 917 7777
Relay UK (if the claimant cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 917 2222
Video relay service for British Sign Language (BSL) users

Lines are open: Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

Struggling with the initial telephone claim?

When someone rings wishing to make a claim for PIP they will be asked lots of questions (someone can be with them to help answer these), or if no-one is able to be with them, they (or another person) can request a form be sent to them by post instead.

Or they can request a home visit from a DWP visiting officer to help them complete the claim form.

Cannot use telephone

Where the claimant cannot use the telephone and has no-one who is able to ring up on their behalf for a form to be sent, there is another option. they can write in requesting the form. The claim would then be dated from the date the DWP receives the postal request for it. The address to write to is: Personal Independence Payment New Claims, Post Handling Site B, Wolverhampton WV99 1AH


No recourse to public funds?

Did you know that some people can get this restriction lifted?

Some non-EEA nationals are subject to immigration control, meaning they require leave (permission) to enter or remain the UK.
Sometimes this leave is limited by a condition that the person must not have 'recourse to public funds'.

A full list of what counts as a public fund is available from gov.uk here, and includes all the means-tested benefits including Universal Credit.

The restriction can be lifted in the following situations:

  • Where the person has suffered domestic violence or
  •  Where the person can show that they are currently destitute or is at imminent risk of becoming destitute.


The 'imminent risk' condition has been added by new guidance from the Home Office, following a recent Court case. This guidance tells Home Office decision makes that they must not impose the NRPF restriction on anyone who meets the requirements.
 
NOTE: The new guidance only applies to certain categories of people with NRPF, so if you come across someone to whom you think this might apply you should refer them to a registered immigration adviser, using the Home Office’s official list – here

Not entitled to have their NRPF lifted?

As part of its response to COVID-19, the government announced in the Budget on 11 March that it would provide local authorities in England with £500 million of new grant funding to support economically vulnerable people and households in their local area.

And certain children whose parents have No Recourse to Public Funds can receive free school meals during the Coronavirus outbreak - click here.

 


E-Learning:

Coming Soon
EEA Nationals and UC


Find out more about how to access our E-learning courses - 
click here

Don't forget...

From 22 July 2020, a two-week 'run on' applies to Income Support, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance and Income Based Jobseeker’s Allowance. This means that where entitlement to one of these benefits ends as a result of a claim for Universal Credit, the end date is not the day before the date the initial UC claim is made, but two weeks later.

We expect this to work in a similar way to the Transition to UC Housing Payment (two-week run-on of Housing Benefit) which has already been introduced. The extra income will help with adjusting to monthly budgeting.

UC - The Extras

Online Workshop

Get booked on to our popular Workshop:

Added date: Thursday 16th July 10am - 12noon
Just £49+vat per delegate - click here for more info.

Now Available:

UC Customer Information 

Need accurate and up to date advice for your customer facing website?


Subscribe to our UC Pages....

More information 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 they will receive a box of chocolates for themselves.

Well done to our May winner - 
 Jan from Crawley Council - 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 17th July 2020 for your chance to win.

This month's competition question - 

What is (normally) the maximum repayment period for a Change in Circumstances Advance?

a) 3 months
b) 6 months
c) 12 months


Find your answer here

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

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