Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.
Search



Newsletters: December 2021
*|MC:SUBJECT|*

You’ll need your login for links to the website- email us on info@housingsystems.co.uk if you’ve forgotten yours.

December 2021 Newsletter

Seasons greetings and welcome to our latest newsletter - bringing you right up to date with useful welfare benefit information. 

In this issue find out more about some of the issues covered in our Budget Update and more:
  • Christmas Quiz - join us for a fun quiz - Tues 21st Dec @ 2pm
     
  • Retrospective verification of UC claims - causing huge overpayments for some
     
  • EUSS Pre Settled Status  - court ruling
     
  • Household Support Fund - what's available in your area?
     
  • Early wages before Christmas - impact on UC
     
  • Christmas Savings Schemes - reminder
     
  • PIP - questionnaire available via email
     
  • Recent Question - MAC moving LA area
     
  • Your chance to WIN £50 for your local FOOD BANK and a Webinar place for yourself
Online Quiz
Join us for a Panto themed Fun Quiz to round off 2021!


Our Christmas Quiz will look at a range of benefit issues.
Test your knowledge, have some fun and say Merry Christmas to advisors from other subscriber organisations.
Feel free to wear a silly hat or any other festive gear (optional)


Tuesday 21st December @ 2pm
 
Get booked on - limited places

Retrospective Verification
of UC claims

Huge overpayments
Many Universal Credit claimants are being told they have been overpaid huge amounts - because the information they gave at the time of their claim has not been verified.

Background
During the pandemic, because of the massive increase in claims, the DWP decided not to require UC claimants to verify their ID, rent, household constitution etc before UC could be awarded: a system called 'Trust and Protect'. This was put in place in early 2020. 
The DWP say that they informed claimants that further evidence would be requested later. 
A “Repair Team” was set up in spring 2021 and has been contacting UC claimants who claimed under 'Trust and Protect', requesting that they verify their ID.

What’s happening now?
Claimants who have failed to provide sufficient evidence, or whom the DWP have been unable to contact, are having their UC awards closed retrospectively – back to the date of claim – causing huge overpayments. Under UC, all overpayments are recoverable regardless of the cause. There are reports of this happening even where the DWP has not yet asked the claimants for evidence.

Are the DWP correct to do this?
In many cases, the claimant will have one or more legal arguments that they can rely on to challenge the overpayment. Click on the link below for further details.

What can a claimant in this situation do?
They need to:

  • Make a new claim if the award has been terminated (if still eligible)
  • Request a Mandatory Reconsideration against the decision that they have been overpaid and provide the missing evidence.
  • If the MR fails, appeal.
  • If there has been maladministration that has caused them hardship they can make a formal complaint.
Click here for more info
UC rules for those with
Pre-Settled Status are lawful

The Supreme Court has recently confirmed that the requirement that EEA Nationals with Pre-Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme must also have a 'qualifying right to reside for benefit purposes' in order to claim Universal Credit is lawful.

Brief history of the Fratila case
Two EEA Nationals with Pre-Settled Status were arguing that excluding them from claiming UC because they didn’t have a ‘qualifying Right to Reside for benefit purposes’ was discrimination – the DWP were arguing that it wasn’t.

Initially, the Court of Appeal agreed with the EEA Nationals that it was discrimination. In December 2020 the Court of Appeal ruled that the government acted unlawfully in denying rights to benefits for those EEA Nationals with Pre-Settled Status who did not also have a Right to Reside for benefit purposes.  (Fratila v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2020] EWCA 1741- 18 December 2020).

But the DWP appealed to the Supreme Court, and won their appeal. The Supreme Court ‘allowed’ their appeal – meaning that they agreed with the DWP that EEA Nationals with Pre-Settled Status are not being unlawfully discriminated against.

This basically means that an EEA national / family member with Pre-Settled Status and no other qualifying right to reside for benefit purposes cannot claim UC or other benefits – it is not unlawful discrimination to exclude them from social assistance.

Click here for more info on the rules for those with PSS
Click here for the Supreme Court decision
Want to know more about the new rules for EEA Nationals - watch our video.

Household Support Fund

The UK government has allocated an extra £500 million to help those most in need over the winter of 2021/2022.

Local authorities have received the funds and are responsible for designing and operating a scheme for their area.

The general guidance states that help is not just limited to food, household energy bills and water. Also, there is no requirement to be receiving particular benefits.


Do you know what is happening in your area?
Do your customers know about the scheme and how to apply if they need extra help?

More info here
Wages paid early before Christmas?

Many employers pay their staff earlier than usual at Christmas. This can have an impact on their Universal Credit.

HMRC advise that employers should report the normal (or contractual) payday as the payment date on their Full Payment Submission (FPS). If the employer does this - UC should not be affected.

However, if the employer has not done this, the UC awards for the Monthly Assessment Period (MAP) in which the extra wages are received and the following MAP could be affected. Rather than the normal pattern, the first MAP could have extra wages (meaning less or no UC) and the following MAP could have less or no wages (meaning more UC). This will occur if the DWP do not 'move' the early wages into the following MAP.

If the employee is paid monthly and they lose out on UC (over the 2 MAPs) due to their December wages being paid early and being taken into account for UC in the earlier MAP, they could challenge the decision. The Regulations allow the DWP to shift the early-paid wages into the MAP when they would normally have been received. 

Click here for more info
Christmas savings schemes

Recent question:

Q: My customer is a single mum who works part-time and claims Universal Credit. In October she received her Christmas Savings Club pay out from work. The DWP have treated the pay-out as part of her earned income for the Monthly Assessment Period when she received it. Her UC has been reduced as a result. Is that correct?
 
A: Her UC assessments through the year should already have included the amount she paid into the Christmas Club as part of her earned income. The DWP should calculate her net earnings by using the gross pay and deducting tax and National Insurance contributions and 100% of any occupational pension contribution. 
 
So, if the amounts that she has paid into the Christmas Club have already been taken into account as part of her earned income, she can argue that the Christmas Club pay-out would count as capital (money she has saved) and not earned income. To count it as income again would be counting the same income twice!
 
So she should request a Mandatory Reconsideration of the decision to treat the Christmas Club pay-out as income – it should count as savings instead.



Ensure that the UC information on your  customer facing website is up-to-date

Click here to find out more...

 

PIP2 - now available via email

The DWP have announced that from 6th December 2021 onwards, claimants have the option of either receiving a PIP2 questionnaire in the post or by email.

We have heard that if an adviser is assisting with the form remotely, the claimant can request the form via email and then forward the link to their adviser.

We would be interested to hear your experience of how this works in practice and whether it makes your job easier. Please email us at info@housingsystems.co.uk.

Online Workshop:

PIP - Getting the Right Result
Wednesday 12th January, 9.30am - 12.30pm

WORKSHOP PLAN:
Hints and tips for completing the form
Understanding the various terminology/terms
How to deal with fluctuating conditions
Using: safely, acceptable standard, repeatedly and within a reasonable time period
Ideas for appeals including using case law

Just £79+vat per delegate
 
Click here for more information and to get booked on

Recent Question

Q. We have a mixed age couple who are moving into our area from a different Local Authority area. Their new tenancy is due to start in 3 weeks' time.
They currently get Housing Benefit (under the Pension Age HB Regulations) but they are not entitled to any Pension Credit as their income is too high.
Will they definitely be able to make a new claim Housing Benefit for their new tenancy? 

 
A. Firstly, you need to check if:

  • They have, as a couple, been on HB (under the Pension Age HB Regulations) (or Pension Credit, or both HB and PC) continuously since 14th May 2019 - with no gaps.
  • The older member of the couple is the main HB claimant*
If the answers to both of the above points is 'yes', the older member of the couple will be able to make a new HB claim - BUT they must make their new claim whilst they are still entitled to HB for their old address!

This means the timing of the new HB claim is important because the protection for mixed age couples only works if the new claim is made on a day when they are receiving either HB (under the SPC age Regs) or Pension Credit.
 
There are two possibilities for this couple - we would recommend trying both if appropriate. 
1. Making an advance claim for HB
(this must be done more than 1 week before their new HB award would start).

2. If the tenancies overlap - move in and claim HB whilst the old HB claim is still running
The HB on the old address (in a different LA area) runs to the end of the benefit week in which the couple move. It could also run for longer to cover up to 4 weeks of the notice period if there was an overlapping liability and the HB office has accepted that the overlap was unavoidable, and the couple are moving to more suitable accommodation.
 
* We think that it must be the older member of the couple who is the main HB claimant on both the old and new HB claims for the protection to work (although if the old claim was in the younger member's name - it could still be worth the older member trying for a new HB claim as the guidance does not mention this). 
More info here

Your chance to
win £50 for your local food bank and a FREE webinar place for yourself!

 
Every month we give you the chance to win £50 for your local food bank plus a FREE place for you for our next webinar!

Congratulations to Reb from Birmingham City Council who won our November quiz.  A £50 donation has been made to her local Foodbank - Your Local Pantry.

Why not enter our competition and possibly win a donation 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 donation from us, and they will also receive a FREE webinar place for our next webinar 


To enter this month's competition, just email your entry to us by Friday 14th January 2022 for your chance to win.

This month's competition question:

What is the absolute time limit to request a mandatory reconsideration of a Universal Credit decision?
 
Find the answer on this page

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

Why not follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn?

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

Twitter
LinkedIn

Using the links in the newsletter
Remember when clicking on a link in this newsletter you may need to have logged into our website using your username and password.

If you have forgotten yours - please email us and we will send a reminder:
info@housingsystems.co.uk


Not a member yet? Would you and your colleagues find information like this useful? Then contact us for more details about becoming a member: info@housingsystems.co.uk.
Click here to login to website
Twitter
Website
LinkedIn
Copyright © Housing Systems. All rights reserved.