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Newsletters: May 2018

May 2018 Newsletter

Welcome to this month's newsletter - bringing you right up to date with useful benefit information. 

In this issue find out more about:

  • 18-21s Housing Costs -  U turn means rules to be scrapped
     
  • Two Child Limit -  relaxation to the rules for adopters and kinship carers
     
  • Contacting the DWP - new contacts for getting issues resolved
     
  • New video - Have you seen our new video about MAPs?
     
  • Incorrect UC assessments - watch out for incorrect non-dependant deductions!
     
  • Relevant benefit rule - new case law confirms this
     
  • Universal Jobmatch - is replaced with 'Find a job'
     
  • Success stories - helping you to help your tenants.

    As well as:
  • Your chance to WIN £50 for your local FOOD BANK and chocolates for you!
     
  • This month's really useful standard letter.
     
  • This month's really useful tool! 

Housing Costs
for 18-21

year olds -
Government U-turn 

The government has announced that they will be changing the UC Regulations so that all 18 to 21 year-olds are to be entitled to a Housing Costs Element within their Universal Credit award to help them pay their rent, regardless of their circumstances.

No date has been given for when this change will take effect, although UC Bulletin UC1/2018 stated, 'DWP will implement this change as soon as possible'.

This turnaround means that no young person will need to discuss the reasons why they are needing help with their rent and hopefully will restore landlord confidence in offering accommodation to younger people.

In a written ministerial statement on 29th March, Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey said -

'Currently, 18-21 year-olds who make a new claim to Universal Credit in Universal Credit Full Service areas need to meet certain requirements in order to receive housing support. The change I am announcing today means that young people on benefits will be assured that if they secure a tenancy, they will have support towards their housing costs in the normal way.'

Until the Regulations change, the restrictions remain in place, and could affect some single, 18-21 year-old UC claimants whose claim is on the Full/digital Service. You can find the details and our useful flowchart here.


Two Child Limit 

Changes for
Kinship Carers and Adopters

 

The 2 child limit prevents additional elements / allowances being included in Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit and Universal Credit for a third or subsequent child in a family. However there are a number of exceptions, including where the child is under kinship care arrangements or is adopted.

Following a High Court Ruling, (SC & Ors v Secretary of State for Work And Pensions & Ors), Esther McVey (Secretary of State for Work and Pensions) has announced a relaxation of the rules where children join a household under adoption or kinship care arrangements.

The problem was that this exception only applied if the adopted/cared for child was the third or subsequent child joining the household. In other words, if someone was already looking after two children under these care arrangements and then went on to have their own biological child, they would be hit by the two child limit and not receive additional benefit for their own child. 

This change means that additional elements / allowances will be included for the claimant’s first two biological children, even if they already have other children who joined the household earlier through kinship care arrangements or adoption.


Example: Sabrina, 19, takes over the care of her ten year old twin sisters after their mother dies. Two years later, Sabrina and her partner find they are expecting their first child. The change to the rules means that Sabrina and her partner will be entitled to a child element in their Universal Credit / Child Tax Credit / Housing Benefit for the new baby.

Note that the Regulations have not yet been amended for this change to take effect - check our news page for updates.

Esther McVey’s written statement here.  
For more on the Two Child Limit under Universal Credit – click here.
For more on the Two Child Limit under Housing Benefit – click here.


Need Training in 2018?

Looking to book one of our courses?
Please contact us asap - dates are disappearing fast!!


Please click here to see our training brochure.
 

New DWP Escalation Routeway 

A new escalation process is being set up in Jobcentres. This is referred to as the 'Jobcentre Plus Escalation Routeway'.

The new process will mean staff from 'partner organisations' eg. social landlords, council staff, CAB staff etc. will be able to raise specific problems about their customers' claims directly with the  Work Coach Team Leader. Explicit consent will need to be provided by the claimant before any information can be given.

So, if your organisation has not yet made contact with your DWP Partnership Manager, it would be worth doing so - so that you can be listed as a 'partner organisation'.

This will allow you to have the direct contact details of the Work Coach Team Leader, so you will be able to raise any unresolved problems with them (note that these contact details must not be issued to claimants themselves).

Don't forget, it may also be appropriate for the claimant to challenge a decision, by requesting a Mandatory Reconsideration.

More about explicit consent here.
And challenging decisions here.

Have you seen our new video?

Monthly Assessment Periods in detail.

You may have already seen our short video about UC MAPS -
this new video includes
more detailed information.
Click here


 
Problems with non dependant deductions

– check UC award is correct!

 

We have heard about a problem where some Universal Credit claimants have had a Housing Cost Contribution (HCC - or non-dependant deduction) incorrectly applied to their claim and are losing out on £72.16 per month.

If the claimant (or someone else!) spots the error, it can be sorted out. However many claimants will be unaware that they are being underpaid!

The problem: where the UC claimant/joint claimant is in receipt of a disability benefit which would exempt them from having a HCC (and they have reported this to the UC dept), the computer cannot yet automatically remove the HCC. UC staff are having to manually remove the HCC. And because UC is awarded for each Monthly Assessment Period - staff are having to do this 'manual override' every month! 

Not only is there a risk of this manual adjustment being missed some months, but there are likely to be many claimants who are unaware that they are being underpaid.

The best advice is for claimants to get their award checked out to ensure they are receiving the correct level of benefit.

If you are helping someone with this - you could try our quick UC calculator.

And we have plenty of information about when no Housing Cost Contribution should be applied - here.

Have you seen our new customer leaflets?


Have you seen our updated

Universal Credit:
 
Non Dependant Deductions Leaflet?



Find out how to order copies here.

Have you seen our latest

Welsh Version
UC Booklet?


.

Find out how to order copies here.

TRAINING
Digital UC - The Essentials

Universal Credit is so much more than just claiming online.
Delegates on our 'Digital UC - The Essentials' course are always amazed at how much they didn't know about UC - how different it is to the existing benefits system - how much claimants are missing out on - and how much poor advice is being given to claimants leaving them in financial hardship and struggling to pay their rent.
This course aims to equip delegates with the information and tools they need to tackle the problems that arise, ensuring claimants receive their full entitlement and deal with the complexities of the system.

Why not book this in-house course for your staff for just £895+vat for a full day's training? 
Just email: training@housingsystems.co.uk


Click here for the outline

"Excellent trainer, very relevant and flagged up some strategic issues. I never thought I'd say I enjoyed a Welfare Benefits training session - but I really did! In fact we'd like to make it an annual event."
Keniston HA


"This was really, really useful - the best UC course
I have attended so far."
Debt and Welfare Benefits Officer


1 in 5 claims 'closed'

Recent information from the DWP has provided a breakdown of the reasons why 20% of new Universal Credit claims made were 'closed due to non-compliance with the process'. 
10% Failed to book an initial interview
6% Claimant commitment not accepted
4% Failed to attend an interview

Anyone whose claim was 'closed' should make a new claim as soon as possible.

In many cases, we believe these 'closures' are made outside of the Regulations - find out why - and find some standard letters you can use to help your customers challenge the closure here.

 


Award of 'relevant benefit' reported late? 

When a change in someone’s circumstances means their benefit will increase as a result, the general rule is that if the claimant reports the change late, they can only get the increase from when they report the change. 

However there is a special rule, known as the ‘Relevant Benefit Rule’, which should apply when someone is awarded a ‘relevant benefit’, ie. Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, Armed Forces Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance or Carer’s Allowance.

An award of these ‘relevant benefits’ often triggers the addition of extra premiums or elements in other benefits. 

The ‘relevant benefit rule’ means that any increase in the claimant’s other benefits due to the award of a relevant benefit takes effect from the date the relevant benefit was awarded from, even if the claimant delayed in reporting this.

Recent case law has confirmed this. 

The case involved a claimant who was awarded Contributory ESA from September 2013. He was also awarded PIP from October 2013, but he did not notify the ESA dept until 3 years later. The PIP award meant that the claimant was entitled to an award of Income-Related ESA, due to being entitled to the Severe Disability Premium.  The DWP and First Tier Tribunal had decided that the ESA increase could only be backdated to one month before the date the claimant notified the ESA dept of his PIP award, but the Upper Tribunal Judge ruled that this was erroneous: the increase should have been backdated to October 2013 under the provisions of the ‘relevant benefit’ rule.

For more details about this case see here.

And you can find details of the relevant benefit rule in Housing Benefit here and in Universal Credit here.



Universal Jobmatch
is replaced  

Universal Jobmatch is a jobsearching website which many Universal Credit and Jobseeker's Allowance claimants use. Universal Jobmatch is being replaced by a new website/service called Find a Job.

The Find a Job website has been up and running since 14th May.

Universal Jobmatch will close on 17th June.

The information held about each jobseeker will NOT be transferred from Universal Jobmatch onto Find a job. Therefore anyone with a Universal Jobmatch account will need to save elsewhere any CVs, work search history, job applications etc that they want to keep.

If they do not do this by 17th June, that information will be lost - as they will not be able to access the Universal Jobmatch website after that date!

More information and a copy of the letter issued to customers here.



This month's useful
standard letter



 
With hundreds of useful standard letters on the website it would be surprising if you were aware of all of them. So each month we highlight one for you.

This month we would like to highlight two letters we have updated due to one of the recent changes -


UC CP32S and UC CP32C

You may have used the previous version of these letters to help new Universal Credit claimants who had incorrectly lost out on a week's UC due to the waiting days being wrongly applied.

And you may be wondering why we still have these letters - since the waiting days were abolished for new claims made on or after 14th February 2018!

The reason is that many people had the
waiting days imposed incorrectly - so where you discover that this has happened, claimants can ask for the 7 days' benefit owed to them. 

It is easy to spot! All you need to find out is the date of the month on which the claim was originally made and the date of the month when each monthly assessment period starts. If the MAPs start 7 days later - then it is likely that the waiting days were applied.

Changes to the UC rules from April mean that the 7 days' UC can be paid as a 'mini' first assessment period, without interfering with the established monthly assessment period dates. Click
here for more information on this change.



You can find more information and a link to the letters here.



This month's

useful 'tool'



 

In addition to highlighting one of our standard letters in each newsletter, we thought you may find it helpful if we also remind you each month about the many tools which are at your fingertips too!

Have you seen our....


Missing APA Managed Payment Predictor

If you are a landlord with properties in a Full/Digital Universal Credit Service area and you request APA Managed Payments for your tenants, you will know that the arrangements for how and when you receive payment are different to the Live Service area arrangements.

Your APA managed payments are received on the same 4-weekly schedule as that which includes third party deductions for rent arrears. Therefore you will receive 13 schedules per year, 12 of which will include payments for a particular tenant (assuming the APA/award of UC continues that long) and one which does not. 

But how do you know which schedule will not include a payment? 
Our Missing APA Managed Payment Predictor can narrow this down for you!

You can find the predictor here.
And more information here.


 


Your chance to
win £50 for your local food bank

 
Every month we give you the chance to win £50 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 cheque from us, and will receive a box of chocolates for themselves.

Well done to last month's winner - Carolanne
  from Leeds City Council - a £50 cheque will be making its way to her nominated Food Bank at Moortown Methodist Church

To enter this month's competition, just email the answer to the question below to us by Friday 15th June for your chance to win.

This month's quiz is about the Transition to Universal Credit Housing Payment - or 2-week HB run-on - which has been available to those whose HB claim ends because they have made a claim for Universal Credit since 11th April.

Our question is about how the HB run-on is affected by the Benefit Cap.

Please fill in the gaps:

If the claimant's HB was being capped before they went on UC, the two week payment .........................................................................
However, once UC is awarded, the Cap ............................................................ for those two weeks.

Find your answer here.

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

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