News & Updates
Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Benefits: Useful Information - Click here
Welcome to our latest newsletter - bringing you right up to date with useful welfare benefit information.
Test and Trace Support payment The government has introduced a new scheme to support low income workers.To be eligible for the funding, individuals must meet the following criteria:1. Have tested positive for Covid-19 on or after 28th September 2020 or received a notification from NHS Test and Trace on or after 28th September asking them to self-isolate.2. Be employed or self-employed.3. Be unable to work from home (checks will be undertaken on all applicants).4. Will lose income as a result.5. Be currently receiving Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, Income-Based Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support, Income-Related Employment Support Allowance, Pension Credit or Housing Benefit.The £500 payment will be disregarded as income when benefits are calculated, but it is taxable.More info here.Job Support SchemeA new Job Support Scheme, aimed at protecting jobs where businesses are either facing lower demand due to Covid-19, or have been legally required to close temporarily due to Covid-19, will run for 6 months from 1 November 2020.More details here. Self Employed Income Support SchemeThe government has decided to extend the SEISS until the end of April 2021 for those who are actively trading but who are experiencing reduced demand due to the Coronavirus outbreak. It will work in the same way as before - although businesses must be trading - but with a much reduced payment. For the period November 2020 to January 2021 it will be worth 20% of average monthly profits, up to a total of £1875. The government has not yet decided on the appropriate amount for February to April.More here.ESA waiting days / treated as unfit for workThe measure to allow New Style ESA to be paid from day 1 of the claim (rather than day 8) and to treat claimants as having a limited capability for work for those who are infected with Coronavirus, self-isolating or are caring for a child who is infected or self-isolating, has been extended until 12 May 2021. It was due to end on 12 November, but has been extended for a further 6 months.More info here.Working Tax Credit - drop in working hoursBack in the spring, the government said that claimants could remain on WTC even if their working hours had reduced below the number required in the Tax Credit Regulations. They said this measure would remain in place until the Job Retention Scheme closes. The Job Retention Scheme ends at the end of October 2020 - although it is being replaced by the Job Support Scheme. So we are expecting an announcement - keep checking our news headlines!Suspension of the Minimum Income FloorSince the end of March, Work Coaches have had the discretion not to apply the Minimum Income Floor rule to self employed claimants. This was a temporary measure and as the regulations currently stand, it is due to end on 12th November. So, unless the government decides to extend this easement, some UC claimants could be affected again, if their self employed earnings remain lower than the amount they would be expected to be earning. We are keeping our eyes and ears open in case of any news on this!
Are you seeing the benefits?The DWP has confirmed that back in June 2020 a new ‘Record a change in joint tenancy costs’ 'To-Do' was introduced for agents to record exactly how many tenants live in the property and how much of the rent the claimant is responsible for.The DWP have said that this should ensure such cases are automatically correctly paid each month without the need for manual payments or continued claimant intervention. New guidance has been issued to Work Coaches and Case Managers to make them aware of the changes.So what should a new UC claimant do?A new UC claimant should make their claim as normal and declare their Housing Costs. Whilst the above process should be automatic, the claimant could add a note to their journal confirming that they have an untidy tenancy and are in fact responsible for 100% of the rent to ensure the agent completes the 'To-Do'.IMPORTANT: Whenever the claimant reports a change in their rent, the DWP will need to complete this 'To-Do' again - so claimants should ensure the amount of the Housing Costs Element is correct following the change and that the DWP's records are kept up to date.Work Coaches must not...Work Coaches and Case Managers have been reminded that they must not:
The Warm Home Discount Scheme is now open for this winter.Those on Guarantee Pension Credit are automatically eligible - as long as their energy supplier is part of the scheme.Others on a low income could be eligible. Eligibility criteria vary between suppliers, so it is best to check their websites for details of who can apply.
The High Court RulingThe High Court has ruled that the formula for converting weekly rent to monthly amounts for the calculation of Universal Credit is neither irrational nor unlawful.So the issue of the so-called '53 week rent year' continues!What the Judge saidIn  EWHC 2482 (Admin), the Judge concluded that'the rationale for choosing a 52/12 conversion ratio was a reasonable and rational one ...It promotes consistency and simplicity and reflects the reality that in most years, tenants will have 52 payments to make'.The Judge also said,'any difference in treatment is not manifestly disproportionate to the legitimate aims pursued by the formulae' and'universal credit was not intended to provide full reimbursement for tenants, and discretionary housing payments exist for those who may get into difficulty'.