Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.
Newsletters: September 2021


September 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:

  • Sanctuary Schemes - exempt from Bedroom Tax
  • Fostering Allowance - new HB case law 
  • Post Office card accounts - delay to planned closure
  • UC & Two Months Wages in one MAP - new automated system
  • DWP able to pay arrears in instalments - new regulations 
  • Students and UC - reminder of useful info
  • Mixed Age Couples and Bedroom Tax - recent question
  • CONFERENCE - get booked on
  • Your chance to WIN £50 for your local FOOD BANK and a CONFERENCE PLACE for yourself
Sanctuary Schemes -
exempt from Bedroom Tax

From 1st October 2021 claimants living in a social sector property that has been adapted under a Sanctuary Scheme will be excluded from the Bedroom Tax. This applies to both Housing Benefit and Universal Credit. 

A Sanctuary Scheme is a scheme operated by a local housing authority or a registered provider of social housing, enabling victims of domestic abuse to remain in their own homes through the installation of additional security to the property or the perimeter of the property at which the victim resides.

The change to the regulations follows a 2019 European Court of Human Rights (EHCR) judgement which ruled that the availability of Discretionary Housing Payments did not remove the conflict between the Bedroom Tax (which incentivises claimants to move) and Sanctuary Schemes (which support victims to remain safely in their own home).

UC / HB claimants will be excluded from the Bedroom Tax under this change if:

  • They live in social housing
  • Their property has had additional security installed under a Sanctuary Scheme due to an ongoing threat of domestic abuse against a member of the household
  • The perpetrator of the abuse does not live at the property (limited exceptions)
  • The claimant provides written evidence from a person who is acting in an official capacity (eg police, social worker, support worker from a charity or voluntary organisation which supports victims of domestic violence).
The exemption will take effect from:
For HB claimants - from 4th October 2021 (ie. the Monday after 1st October)
For UC claimants - from the Monthly Assessment Period that starts on or after 1st October 2021.

Note - The change will not happen automatically - claimants will need to contact the HB Office / DWP to ask for the exemption!
Click here for more info
Current and future challenges
Continuing support beyond Covid
Safeguarding claimants: statutory requirements and guidelines

Getting the measure of the Transitional SDP Element
and delayed PIP awards
The nuts and bolts of living in specified accommodation
Nail down the rules on UC for disabled workers
Get to grips with UC for students
Unlock the LCW problem areas
Spotlight on UC sanctions
Click here for more info

Fostering Allowance
& HB

Fostering Allowances paid by a Local Authority are disregarded as income when a claimant's HB is assessed. But Fostering Allowances paid by a private company have - until now - usually been treated as earnings, even though it is the Local Authority who commission the company to find appropriate accommodation.

One claimant felt this was unfair and appealed. The Upper Tribunal agreed - they ruled that fostering allowances paid by approved agencies to carers of 'looked after' children should be disregarded as income for Housing Benefit.

The Judge ruled that foster carers who receive Fostering Allowances from a private company that was used by the Local Authority to find accommodation for the child should be treated in the same way as those receiving Fostering Allowances directly from the Local Authority.

(For Universal Credit claimants, this decision has no effect, because Fostering Allowances are disregarded, whether paid directly by the LA or via a private agency used by the LA. The UC regulations list what counts as unearned income and as fostering allowances are not on the list, they are disregarded for UC).

More info on how income is treated for HB
Post Office
Card Accounts ending -
but not yet!!

In last month's newsletter we included a reminder that the government's contract with the Post Office to provide Post Office Card Accounts was due to end in November 2021; since then a change has been announced!

The end date has been extended by 12 months, due to disruption caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

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.

Post Office Card Accounts have been closed to new applicants since March 2019.


More info here
UC & two months' wages in one MAP

DWP has changed its processes so that the Universal Credit system now automatically identifies claimants who receive a second monthly salary payment in one benefit assessment period. 

Staff will be able to move the second payment forward to the next assessment period in the system, ensuring the claimant’s benefits don’t fluctuate from one month to the next due to the system thinking a claimant has received increased wages in one month. 

Henry is 62. He lives alone in a two bedroom house. He works part time as a caretaker at the local school - working 20 hours a week - and gets paid monthly on 26th of every month.
His UC Monthly Assessment Periods (MAPs) run from 20th to 19th of the month.
His employer always pays early at Christmas - this year he gets his December wage on 17th December.
Therefore in the assessment period 20th November - 19th December, he receives two monthly wages: one on 26th November and the other on 17th December.
As this would disrupt his pattern, the DWP decide to take the wage paid on 19th December into account in his assessment period 20th December - 19th January

Note although the system automatically identifies this, it appears the moving of the payment still has to be done manually, so could still be missed and the claimant may have to request this.

IMPORTANT: If these adjustments do not happen automatically, then before requesting the adjustment the claimant should check that they will actually be better off if this happens. Some claimants who have no work allowance and who receive only a moderate amount of UC can be better off where two wages are taken into account in one period and none in the next. 

Click here for more info
DWP will be able to pay
arrears of benefits in instalments

These new Regulations - which replace previous guidance - enable the DWP, with the claimant’s consent, to stagger payments of benefit arrears rather than pay the whole amount as a lump sum, where it believes it is necessary to protect the interests of the claimant.

This will apply to arrears of the following benefits:

In England, Wales and Scotland:
Bereavement Support Payment, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Maternity Allowance, Pension Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Retirement Pension, State Pension, Universal Credit, Widowed Parent’s Allowance, Widow’s Benefit.

In England & Wales: 
Attendance Allowance, Carer’s Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Social Fund Cold Weather Payments, Social Fund Funeral Payments, Social Fund Maternity Expenses, Social Fund Winter Fuel Payments.

For Universal Credit and joint claim JSA, both claimants ie both members of a couple, will need to agree to the instalments - although only one needs to be at risk if paid as a lump sum.

These new Regulations come into force on 18th October 2021.

Students and UC

With the start of the new academic year, you might be asking which students can claim Universal Credit? The rules are pretty complicated! But don't worry - we have plenty of information to help you!

Check out our pages all about UC for students.

We also have a new mapping tool to help you work out whether a student can claim / stay on Universal Credit.

For students who can claim, the way student income is calculated for UC is complicated - info here.

And if you are not sure about someone's situation, you can always email us - info@housingsystems.co.uk

This is also a topic at our forthcoming Conference - find out more here.

Recent question
MACs & the 
Bedroom Tax

My customers are a mixed age couple who are still in receipt of HB.
One gets a State Pension and the other is on Income Related ESA.
They are being charged the 25% under occupation charge - is that correct?

No - that is not correct!
The confusion here might be because this mixed age couple's HB comes under the 'working age' HB Regulations, because one is claiming the working age passport benefit, Income Related ESA. The good news is that, because one of them is pension age, they are excluded from the Bedroom Tax under Regulation A13:

When a maximum rent (social sector) is to be determined
A13.—(1) Subject to paragraph (2), the relevant authority must determine a maximum rent (social sector) in accordance with regulation B13 ..........
(2) This regulation does not apply–
......(d) where the claimant or the claimant’s partner has attained the qualifying age for state pension credit
, or where both have attained that age.

Note though, that if they were on Universal Credit, the Bedroom Tax reduction would apply!

Outcome -

The appeal worked and they are no longer being charged the under occupation charge. 

They received a backdate of £703.

Click here for info and a link to standard letter BT5
Now available

Universal Credit information for your customer facing website

Click here to find out more...


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

Every month we give you the chance to win £50 for your local food bank.  

Congratulations to Dave from Powys County Council who won our August quiz! A £50 donation is being made to Newtown Salvation Army Foodbank.

This month you have a chance of winning a free place at our Conference.
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 free place at our Conference on 11th October.

To enter this month's competition, just email your entry to us by Friday 1st October 2021 for your chance to win.

This month's competition question:

95% of all UC sanction decisions from May 2020 - April 2021 were for failure to do what?

Find the answer on this page: click here

And email your entry to: info@housingsystems.co.uk
Click here for more info

Why not follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn?

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


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:

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
Copyright © Housing Systems. All rights reserved.