Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.

Newsletters: March 2020

March 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 - ten benefit related facts.
  • EEA Nationals - GPOW Test illegal - new caselaw.
  • UC claimants turning PC age update - government listened to concerns but still more to do.
  • Untidy tenancies - only getting 50% rent covered by UC?- we've updated our standard letter / journal entry.
  • Budget 2020 - Benefit announcements
  • UC and rent increase 2020 - what should claimants do.
  • Need up-to-date info on UC for your customers - Our new UC Pages are nearly ready.
  • E-Learning Zone  - new courses in development

  • Your chance to WIN £50 for your local FOOD BANK and chocolates for you!
Coronavirus -
10 benefit related facts

Top Ten Benefit Related Facts:

  1. Those who need to self-isolate will be treated as having a 'Limited Capability for Work'.
  2. This includes those who have been diagnosed as having the virus, those who are showing symptoms of the virus, and those who are having to self-isolate because someone in their household has/could have the virus.
  3. Those claiming JSA or UC as a jobseeker should let their work coach know if they are self-isolating and agree a new claimant commitment.
  4. UC claimants who are treated as having a 'Limited Capability for Work' (including those receiving Statutory Sick Pay) due to the Coronavirus on the day their UC is assessed will be entitled to a work allowance.
  5. Statutory Sick Pay will be paid from day 1 of an employee's absence from work if self-isolating.
  6. Those not entitled to SSP may be entitled to New-Style Employment and Support Allowance (which, if entitled, will be awarded from day 1 of their absence from work).
  7. Self-employed UC claimants who have to self-isolate will have the Minimum Income Floor removed from their award whilst they are self-isolating and for the whole of the Assessment Period in which they stop self-isolating.
  8. Those self-isolating who need to make a new claim for Universal Credit should contact the UC helpline to let them know that they are self-isolating - the DWP have said that they will not require these claimants to attend the JobCentre for their New Claim Interview or Advance Payment.
  9. Those workers getting Working Tax Credit are entitled to a 4 week 'grace period' where are drop in hours is ignored when considering whether or not they work the required hours to stay on Tax Credits.
  10. The government has promised to give Local Authorities £500m to help workers affected by the Coronavirus to pay their Council Tax bill. At the moment we do not know any more about this fund ie who can apply, how to apply etc.



Someone whose income drops due to the Coronvirus may be advised to claim Universal Credit. 
However this may not be the best option for them.

For example:

Jess works 20 hours a week and claims Child and Working Tax Credits for her and her two dependent children. Her youngest child is showing symptoms of Coronavirus and so she is having to self-isolate for two weeks. During this period she will only receive Statutory Sick Pay - so her income will drop by £100 a week and she is worried about how she will pay her rent. She has been told that UC can help with her rent.

If she claims Universal Credit her Tax Credits will stop straight away, and unless she gets an Advance Payment she won't receive any UC for around 5 weeks.

Depending on her circumstances, going forward, she may receive less UC than she would have done in Tax Credits.

More information here...

Benefit FAQs

Watch out for our next Briefing
EEA Nationals - GPOW test unlawful

The Regulations state that an EEA national, who has worked in the UK for over a year can retain their worker status beyond 6 months' unemployment if they have a "genuine chance of being engaged".

However CPAG successfully appealed on behalf of a Polish national that this was an unlawful requirement. 

In CH/2389/2016 (KH –v- Bury MBC and SSWP [2020] UKUT 0050 (AAC)) the Upper Tribunal agreed that there was no lawful basis for requiring the appellant to show she had a genuine chance of being engaged.  All that is required in the EU Directive is that the worker is "in duly recorded involuntary employment and registered as a jobseeker at the relevant employment office”. The UK had undermined this by adding a genuine chance of being engaged test.  

The Tribunal Judge said that retained worker status "is retained indefinitely unless and until the evidence shows the person has withdrawn from the labour market entirely. It is through registration with the employment office that the connection with the labour market is shown, through being available and actively seeking work, but it is not a necessary part of showing that connection that a person must have a genuine chance of being employed."


The Regulations have not yet been changed but any claimant refused a right to reside (and thereby a right to benefits) on this basis should appeal quoting this caselaw.

Click here for more information
Universal Credit information
for your customers...
Keeping the information about Universal Credit on your customer facing website up-to-date and relevant can be a daunting task. So we're developing a solution.

Pages of useful information and tips for your customers / tenants- written and updated by us - for you to show on your website at the click of a few buttons. Available April 2020.

Sounds interesting? Contact us for more information: info@housingsystems.co.uk

UC claimants turning PC age update
As highlighted in our recent Briefing there is a problem with the current system when a UC claimant turns Pension Credit age - meaning that they could miss out on up to a month's benefit.

The government have announced that they will amend the Universal Credit Regulations to allow Universal Credit to be paid up until the end of the Assessment Period in which the claimant turns Pension Age. This will be paid in addition to any Pension Credit and/or Housing Benefit the claimant may be entitled to. 

We do not yet have a date for when this change will take place.

This resolves one problem highlighted in our Briefing - however four more issues remain unresolved.
The Briefing

All about:
Universal Credit and turning Pension Age

Click here

Untidy tenancies - only getting 50% of the rent covered by UC?
The issue where the Housing Costs Element included in a UC claimant's award only covers 50% of their rent because they have an 'untidy tenancy' remains a big problem.

A typical 'untidy tenancy' arises when a couple with a joint tenancy split up and one of them moves out, and, their joint tenancy has not been surrendered, assigned or transferred.

When the remaining tenant makes a claim for UC and declares they have a joint tenancy with someone other than their partner, the UC computer system will see that they have a joint tenancy with someone other than their partner, and it will automatically split the rent in half - assuming the other joint tenant will pay the other half.

Of course the other joint tenant will not be doing this, leaving the UC claimant with not enough income to pay their rent. But as they have a joint and several liability to pay 100% of the rent they should have their Housing Cost Element based on 100% - which is why we devised a Standard Letter to request this.

We have recently revisited and revamped this letter, so it now includes a sample journal entry that the claimant can put on their UC account challenging the fact that the DWP are only covering 50% of their rent when they are in fact entitled to the full 100%:

I would like to request a Mandatory Reconsideration of your decision to only cover 50% of my rent, and instead ‘treat me as liable’ for the full 100%.
I have an ‘untidy tenancy’. I am a joint tenant with xxxxx, but they left the property on xx/xx/xxxx, do not have an intention to return, and are not paying anything towards the rent. My landlord is unable to remove them from the tenancy for legal reasons.
As I am liable for, and being charged, 100% of the rent, and failure to pay the whole rent will result in my landlord taking action to evict me, the Housing Costs Element in my UC award should cover 100% of my eligible rent, as it would be unreasonable not to do so.
If you require any further information, either from me or my landlord, please let me know as soon as possible as I am currently falling behind with my rent which is causing me a lot of distress and worry.

Please contact us if you continue to have problems with the DWP refusing to increase the amount of the Housing Costs Element despite the claimant putting this on their journal.
Click here for more info on untidy tenancies
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.

Budget 2020...
Benefit highlights

The government has put several measures in place with regards to Universal Credit, Statutory Sick Pay and New-Style Employment and Support Allowance to take account of those affected by Coronavirus. Click here.

UC claimants turning Pension Credit age
The government have announced that they will amend the Universal Credit Regulations to allow Universal Credit to be paid up until the end of the Assessment Period in which the claimant turns Pension Age. This will be paid in addition to any Pension Credit and/or Housing Benefit the claimant may be entitled to. (see above)

UC Surplus Earnings Rule
The higher threshold for surplus earning will be extended for a further 12 months ie until April 2021. Click here.

Deductions from UC
From October 2021 the overall maximum deduction rate for all deductions will reduce from an amount equal to 30% of the claimant's Standard Allowance to 25%.

Repaying Advances
From October 2021 the repayment period for New Claim Advances and Benefit Transfer Advances can be extended from 12 months to 24 months (it was previously due to increase to 16 months).

Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) exemptions
From October 2023 there will be exemptions from the SAR for UC and HB claimants in private housing, covering rough sleepers aged 16-24, care leavers up to the age of 25, and victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking.
Need UC E-Learning?
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.

We're currently working on the following courses that will be added to our existing courses in the next few weeks:

Coronavirus and working claimants

Making a successful claim (for UC)

An introduction to UC

CLICK HERE to find out how you can access these courses...

Why not follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn?

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

Housing Systems Conference

Universal Credit
Taking on the Challenge

Delayed until Autumn 2020 -
click here for more information

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 February  winner - Hafsa from Leicester 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 10th April 2020 for your chance to win.

This month's competition question -

Ruth and Andy have had to make a claim for UC to help them pay their rent because Andy has just been laid off. Ruth is 68 and Andy is 62.

Their only income is Andy's New-Style JSA, Ruth's State Pension and her PIP - she gets daily living and mobility both at the enhanced rate.


If Ruth provides the DWP with a 'fit note' then they can have a Limited Capability for Work Related Activity (LCWRA) Element included in their UC award (after the 'relevant period') without the need for Ruth to undergo a Work Capability Assessment - making them £354.28 a month better off!

Find your answer here

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

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