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Newsletters: February 2021

February 2021 Newsletter

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

In this issue find out more about:

  • UC and Rent Increases 2021 - recent guidance from the DWP.
     
  • EEA Nationals - Risk Areas - some EEA Nationals could see their existing benefits stop if they haven't applied to the EUSS by 30th June 2021.
     
  • Complaints - help speed up UC challenges - struggling to get the DWP to change a decision? - complaining may help.
     
  • Tax Credits - new regulations - make sure claimants don't miss out on a back payment.
     
  • Post Office card accounts - what's happening?
     
  • Transitional SDP Element - erosion and loss - what changes could reduce or end a UC claimant's TSDPE?
     
  • New Standard Letter - for those 4 weekly paid claimants affected by the Benefit Cap although earning above the earnings threshold.
     
  • New Flowchart - all about the Transitional SDP Element
     
  • Your chance to WIN £50 for your local FOOD BANK and a box of chocolates for you!

UC & Rent Increases 2021
Information for social landlords about the April 2021 rent increase has been provided via the Landlord Portal. This confirms that it will be the tenant's responsibility to notify that their rent has been changed. All social rented claimants will receive a 'Confirm your housing costs to-do' in April 2021.
More info and view the 'to do' here

EEA Nationals: Risk Areas

New benefit rules came into play on 1st January 2021 - following the end of the Brexit 'transition period'.

EEA Nationals who do not understand the new rules/system could miss out.

Our Hot Topic looks at the risks:

  • What if an EEA National fails to protect their rights - they fail to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30th June 2021?
  • What if they do apply and are granted Pre-Settled Status when it should have been Settled Status?
  • What if they think Pre-Settled Status is enough on its own to entitle an EEA National to Universal Credit?
  • What happens if they fail to apply for Settled Status by the expiry date of their Pre-Settled Status?
  • What if they are away from the UK for 6 months or more? - EEA Nationals don't lose their Pre-Settled Status but they will lose the right to apply for Settled Status!
  • The DWP is likely to make mistakes - will an EEA National know when to challenge this?
Click here to find out more...
EEA Nationals and Brexit - Click to watch our Video
Want to know more about:

EEA Nationals, UC and the implications of Brexit?

Book onto our Blended Learning course
Just £79+vat for an E-Learning course and Workshop!
Workshop - Tuesday 3rd March 2021.
 Click here for more info.

Complaints - help speed up UC challenges 

Challenging UC decisions can be a lengthy, drawn out, and often frustrating process. Many claimants report that their requests go unanswered, leading to delays in errors being rectified and leaving the claimant struggling without enough to live on when their award is incorrect. 

There is a formal process for challenging appealable UC decisions - by requesting a Mandatory Reconsideration and then, if the claimant is not satisfied, by lodging an appeal - but many claimants struggle to get this process started.

Using the complaints route in addition to the Mandatory Reconsideration/appeal route can result in a quicker resolution to the problem.  

Click here for more information in our Hot Topic...

Tax Credits - new Regulation 

When someone makes a claim for Universal Credit, their Tax Credit award will be brought to an end and finalised.

If they then go on to receive a qualifying disability benefit^, and the award of that benefit covers a period when they were on Tax Credits, and they should have received an extra element ie Disabled Child Element, Severely Disabled Child Element, Disabled Worker Element or Severe Disability Element, and they report the award of that benefit to HMRC within a calendar month of the DWP/HB Office's decision, then they can now receive a backdated Tax Credit payment.

As this is in respect of a Tax Credit award for the period before they went onto UC it should not be taken as income for the UC award but as savings and disregarded as such for 12 months.

Regulations give HMRC limited powers to re-assess a Tax Credit award where a change in circumstances occurs after that award has been finalised.

On 14th January 2021 the Tax Credit Regulations were amended to include an extra situation where HMRC could do this - where a claimant is awarded a qualifying disability benefit^ (as long as they notify HMRC of the award within one month of the decision by the DWP/HB Office).

This power is effective from 6th April 2020.

Tax Credit awards are finalised:

  • At the end of the tax year - claimants will need to confirm certain details via their 'renewal pack', or
  • If they have not completed the renewal process by 31st July, or
  • If the claimant is no longer entitled.


^A qualifying benefit for these purposes is:  Armed Forces Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Employment and Support Allowance, Statutory Sick Pay, Housing Benefit where a disability premium is included, Income Support where a pensioner or a disability premium is included, Jobseeker’s Allowance where a pensioner or a disability premium is included; limited capability for work credit, a mobility supplement or a constant attendance allowance where the supplement or benefit is paid in conjunction with a war pension or industrial injuries disablement benefit.


Post Office Card Accounts
Around 900,000 claimants have their State Pension, other DWP benefits or Tax Credits paid into a Post Office Card Account. The government's contract with the Post Office for these accounts is due to end on 30 November 2021.

Ahead of the change, the DWP is currently writing to customers who have their State Pension or benefits paid into a Post Office Card Account. The letter asks them to nominate an alternative account for their benefits to be paid into.  

There is no need for claimants to panic - so long as they have notified the DWP / HMRC of their nominated account before their POCA closes, there should be no problem. 

For anyone who is unable to open a different type of account, the Payment Exception Service is available. More information about this service on the gov.uk website here.
No bank account? Find out more about how UC can be paid...

Transitional SDP Element: erosion and loss
Many UC claimants will be entitled to have the new Transitional SDP Element (TSDPE) included in their UC award.

However, the amount of the TSDPE is only fixed for the claimant's first assessment period - after that it can be eroded or lost. 

Erosion…
The award of a new Element, or increase to an existing Element in the UC award, will ‘erode’ the amount of Transitional SDP Element. The only exception to this is the award of, or increase to, the Childcare Costs Element. 
Once eroded the TSDPE cannot increase again. 

Total Loss…
Certain changes that happen could mean the total loss of the Transitional SDP Element, in particular where a single claimant takes on a partner or a couple separate.

We have summarised the more common changes in the table below:

 
What changes would lead to the complete loss of the Transitional SDP Element?
ChangeNotes
A couple claiming UC separateThis would also include where the claim converts to a single claim eg if the partner goes into hospital for 6 months or more
One member of the couple diesBut the death ‘run-on’ rules would apply, so the TSDPE, couple standard allowance and any other elements relating to the deceased partner should continue for the MAP in which the partner dies and the following two MAPs
A single claimant takes on a partnerThis would not apply if the UC claim continued as a single claim eg if the new partner had no recourse to public funds
No longer entitled to UC
eg savings go over £16,000, go abroad for a month or more (and no exception applies)
 Some special rules apply if the loss of UC due to earnings is for less than 3 MAPs, then they will not lose the TSDPE.
  
Increase in earnings - but only where the claimant had been earning above Administrative Earnings Threshold (AET) when they claimed UC, and then earnings have dropped below AET for 3 consecutive MAPs.AET = £343 per month for a single claimant / £549 per month for a couple  
What changes would not end a Transitional SDP Element even if you would expect them to
PIP or DLA ends 
Someone claims Carers Allowance or a Carer Element for looking after them 
A non-dependant moves in 
Being found fit for work 
  
What are the most common changes that will erode the Transitional SDP Element?
Social housing rent Increase / Increase to Housing Costs Element 
Being found to have a Limited Capability for Work and Work Related ActivityThe addition of the LCWRA Element or increase from LCW Element will ‘eat into’ the TSDPE
Having a babyThe addition of a Child Element, or increase in Housing Costs Element will ‘eat into’ the TSDPE
A dependent child / young person being awarded DLA or PIPThe addition of the Disabled Child Element will ‘eat into’ the TSDPE
  
What changes will not erode the Transitional SDP Element?
Award of or increase to Childcare Costs Element 
Drop in earnings / income / savings meaning an increase in the UC award 
  
Click here for more information on the TSDPE...

NEW: Flowchart
Transitional SDP Element


Click here to see all our Universal Credit related summary sheets and flowcharts
Want to  know more about the Transitional SDP Element?

Book onto our

Beyond the SDP Gateway
Workshop


Wednesday 10th March - just £59+vat pp
 click here for more info.

New standard letter
Claimants who work 16 hours per week and who are paid the national minimum wage should be exempt from the Benefit Cap; they are in fact earning the threshold to be exempt from the Benefit Cap - £604 per month.
But for UC claimants who receive their wages 4 weekly, the UC computer system does not pick up a whole month's wages - it only recognises 4 weeks' wages*.
The High Court has ruled that it is irrational and unlawful for the Benefit Cap to be applied in these circumstances.

We have a standard letter which can be used by claimants in this situation - requesting the removal of the Benefit Cap.
This case law could also be used in cases paid weekly or twice weekly. 


(*In one monthly assessment period per year it will pick up 2 x 4 weekly earnings payments).
Click here for more info and the letter
E-Learning Package

Watch out for our next course:


Housing Costs Element - how calculated.

You could have an annual subscription that gives unlimited access to all our courses - recently updated to take account of new Regulations.
Subscriptions for all your staff to have access to these courses start at just £750+vat per annum.

Click here for more info.


Your chance to
win £50 for your local food bank and a box of chocs for you!

 
Every month we give you the chance to win £50 for your local food bank 
Congratulations to Aly from Cornerstone Housing who won our January quiz! A £50 donation is on its way to her chosen food bank - Exeter Food bank.


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 receive a box of chocolates for themselves.

To enter this month's competition, just email your entry to us by Friday 12th March 2021 for your chance to win.

This month's competition question:

The Transitional SDP Element in Universal Credit can be eroded by certain changes.
Which of these changes would erode the Transitional SDP Element?

1. Having a first or second child
2. Social Housing Rent increase
3. Inclusion of the Childcare Costs Element 


Find your answer in the article above.


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