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Newsletters: October 2021
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October 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:

  • Need for UC 'MOTs' - following loss of £20 uplift
     
  • EEA Nationals and UC update - new guidance for 'late applications' to the EUSS
     
  • Post Office card accounts - update for HMRC claimants
     
  • UC new case law - Benefit Cap & 4 weekly wages
     
  • Covid measures - update and new fund 
     
  • Free broadband - for some jobseekers
     
  • WEBINAR - EEA Nationals: Renting, Rights and Access to Social Housing - get booked on.
     
  • WORKSHOP - Completing the WCA Questionnaire.
     
  • Your chance to WIN £50 for your local FOODBANK and a webinar place for yourself
Need for UC 'MOTs'

We all welcomed the £20 weekly increase in payments for those claiming Universal Credit (and Working Tax Credit) introduced by the government at the start of lockdown last year - the plan was for this only to be a temporary measure.

Despite calls for an extension as winter bills hit hard, the government stuck firm, meaning that the majority of Universal Credit claimants will see a reduction in their Standard Allowance of £20 per week from the Monthly Assessment Period (MAP) which ends on or after 6th October 2021.

So, payments from 13th October for the majority of UC claimants will be £86.67 less than previously.

All UC awards will include now include the normal, lower, standard allowance of:

£257.33 - single claimant under 25
£324.84 - single claimant age 25+
£403.93 - couple both under 25
£509.91 - couple one or both age 25+.

Impact
The Institute of Fiscal Studies has estimated that in real terms this means a reduction in income of 20% for 1.5 million UC claimants.

Can you help reduce the impact?
We continue to see errors in UC assessments - meaning many UC claimants aren't receiving the award they are entitled to. A UC award 'MOT' might help.

Common mistakes are:
  • Failing to transfer a Work Capability Assessment decision when someone on ESA claims UC.
  • Including Carers Allowance as income but not including a Carer Element when assessing the award.
  • Including Carers Allowance as income even through none is in payment.
  • Reducing the Housing Costs Element by a housing costs contribution (ie non-dependant deduction) when the claimant or non-dependant is getting daily living PIP.
So it is always worth checking that a UC claimant has had their UC assessed correctly - the loss of the £20 uplift will not hit so hard if UC goes up due to a mistake being corrected!

New summary sheet
Over the next couple of weeks we will be developing a UC award 'MOT' summary sheet - if you are seeing the same calculation mistake/oversight over and over again (that isn't listed above) we would love to hear from you. Please email us at info@housingsystems.co.uk with 'UC MOT' as the subject. 

Don't forget
The amount of a Third Party Deduction taken from a claimant's UC award for certain debts - including rent - is based on a % of their Standard Allowance. So when the £20 uplift is removed, this will mean the amount of any Third Party Deductions will also drop.

Government response
They have set up a Housing Support Fund - delivered by Local Authorities - to support vulnerable families during the winter months - click here for more information.
And there may well be some further help announced in this week's Budget.

 
Your chance to join in

Friday Fun Quiz 

Friday 5th November @ 3pm

Following the loss of the £20 uplift we are looking at the common mistakes made by the DWP that could give claimants some extra UC once corrected.

Click here for more information and previous quizzes.
 

EEA Nationals and UC Update

EEA Nationals (and certain family members), resident in the UK at the end of the Brexit transition period had until 30th  June 2021 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to protect the rights they'd gained whilst Great Britain was a member of the EU. 

Although the deadline for these EEA Nationals (and certain family members) to apply to the EUSS was 30th June 2021, they will be allowed to make a late application if the Home Office determines they have a reasonable justification to do so.

Recent guidance - HB Circular A10/2021 - has confirmed that those who have had a late application accepted (and can prove this by providing a Certificate of Application) can access UC, HB and other income related benefits until the outcome of their application has been decided or they have exhausted their appeal rights.

Prior to this guidance being issued, those making a late application to the EUSS (ie on or after 1st July 2021) were unable to make a new claim until being granted Settled or Pre-Settled Status.

Click here for more information
Click here for more info
Post Office
Card Accounts ending for
Tax Credits and Child Benefit

In last month's newsletter we reported that the end date for Post Office Card Accounts was  extended by 12 months

This means that those claimants who have their benefits paid into a Post Office Card Account can continue to do so up to November 2022 - including those who move from legacy benefits to Universal Credit.

But a few weeks ago HMRC announced that they had not joined the DWP in making that decision and anyone receiving Tax Credits or Child Benefit into a Post Office Card Account will need to provide HMRC with alternative bank account details by 30th November 2021 to continue receive these payments. 

There is no Payment Exception Service for benefits received from HMRC, so unless the claimant provides HMRC with alternative bank details their payments will stop!

Since May 2020 anyone who did not already have a Post Office card account has been unable to open a new one.

CASE LAW:
UC, the Benefit Cap and 4 weekly wages

Last year the High Court decided (in Pantellerisco v SSWP (2020) EWHC 194) that using the wages received in a claimant's Assessment Period when looking at whether their wages fell above or below the Benefit Cap earnings threshold was irrational and therefore illegal.

The case involved a lone parent whose average wage fell above the threshold, but as she was paid 4 weekly, for 11 months the year, her UC was being reduced by the Benefit Cap.

The DWP appealed the High Court decision and the Court of Appeal has found in their favour.

The Court of Appeal Judge determined that using wages reported in the UC assessment period instead of average wages was not irrational. He also looked at whether the UC rules could be changed to remove the "pay cycle effect" and concluded that it would not be straightforward and was not a matter for the Courts to decide.

This decision overturns the previous decision. 

Click here for more info
Now available

Universal Credit information for your customer facing website


Click here to find out more...

 
UPDATE:
Covid measures
Several benefit related Covid measures came to an end on 30th September 2021:
  • The Job Retention Scheme
  • The Self Employed Income Support Scheme
  • For Working Tax Credit - being treated as working normal hours if on temporary reduced hours due to Covid
  • Tax Credits - time limit to report change of circumstances back up to one month (had been three months)
  • The Covid Local Support Grant - has been replaced by a new scheme - the Household Support Fund
Click here for more info on the benefit related Covid measures

Free broadband for some jobseekers
The DWP has partnered up with TalkTalk to provide jobseekers six months of free broadband. There is no contract and no credit check is required.

As part of the Flexible Support Fund, Jobcentre staff have referral codes to give to eligible claimants who can then call up with the code to pre-pay for 6 months of unlimited broadband. At the end of the 6 months, claimants can choose to roll onto a contract with TalkTalk or cancel the service for free. 

Claimants should check with their Work Coach to see if they are eligible.
Recent question:
Can a pensioner have a WCA?

Question
My customers are a mixed age couple who are in receipt of UC.
She was getting IR-ESA for herself and her partner until she turned pension age. They were then advised to claim UC as a 'top up' to her State Pension.
Their UC award doesn't include anything for her health problems - they have been told she's too old to have a Work Capability Assessment - is that correct?

Answer
No - that is not correct!
There is nothing in the UC Regulations to say that pension age claimants can't have a Work Capability Assessment!
Their UC could increase - as the LCWRA Element could be included if she is found to have a limited capability for work and work related activities, and the Work Allowance could apply if she is found to have a Limited Capability for Work / LCWRA - so she should be able to have an assessment! 
She should provide fit notes and ask to be referred for a WCA straight away.
More info here.

We think that UC staff sometimes get confused - because, being pension age, she
 won't have any work related requirements, so being found to have LCW or LCWRA would make no difference to her Claimant Commitment.

Unfortunately, her LCW / LCWRA status from ESA did not carry over to UC - because she claimed UC after ESA had already ended.

Click here for more info
Online Workshop:

Completing the WCA Questionnaire


Thursday 4th November, 1.30pm - 4.30pm

WORKSHOP PLAN:
Overview of the rules for ESA and UC LCW/LCWRA 
Descriptors and scoring points
Evidence and explanations 
Practical tips and case studies

Just £79+vat per delegate
 
Click here for more information

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.  

Congratulations to Alison from Cornerstone who won our September quiz.  Alison won a free Conference place for herself and a £50 donation was also made to Exeter Foodbank.


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 (next one Dec/Jan - Debts, Deductions and Sustaining Tenancies) for themselves or a colleague.

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

This month's competition question:

If a UC claimant finishes work - they could be sanctioned if they fail to report this within:
A - One month
B - The monthly assessment period
C - 5 working days


Find the answer on this page

(Tip - go all the way to the bottom of the page!)


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

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