Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.
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Claims: Checklists
Claiming Checklist - once claim is made....
  • Moving into ‘specified accommodation’ or ‘temporary accommodation’? – in itself will not trigger the need to claim UC – but, if having another change in circs or if not on any benefits before, they may need to claim UC. As UC does not help with rent in ‘specified accommodation’ or ‘temporary accommodation’ the claimant must make a claim for Housing Benefit. Ensure L.A. realise that they count as living in specified/temporary accommodation so know to pay HB.

  • Were they able to verify ID online? – if not, MUST book ID appointment at Job Centre and attend.

  • Do they have a bank account? – if not, can use Post Office Card Account instead. Or if need to get a bank account set up, do so as soon as possible and update UC account so that payments can be received. 

  • Any evidence they may struggle to provide? – they have a calendar month in which to provide (and can request an extension) but any delay in providing may delay UC payment.

  • Likely date of first payment – let claimant know when they are likely to receive their first payment and future payments and discuss budgeting/payment issues. The first payment will be due a calendar month and seven days after the date submitted claim.

  • Will they manage until first payment? - or do they need an Advance Payment? – Will it be a New Claim or Benefit Transfer Advance? Both repaid over 12 months. Should be Benefit Transfer if paid a ‘legacy benefit’ at any point in the month before making UC claim – better as no need to show hardship. Other support needed – Local welfare provision / food bank voucher etc?

  • Will they cope with their UC being paid monthly? - if not, can ask for more frequent payments under Alternative Payment Arrangements (normally twice monthly – ½ at normal time and ½ approx. 14 days later).

  • Did they request their UC claim be backdated? - this should not delay first UC payment. The DWP can allow an initial assessment period, shorter than one month if applicable, to allow a backdate without it affecting the date of claim and therefore without it affecting the first assessment period.

  • Rent Verification – what rent figure was put on claim/what date as tenancy start date/what name & address for landlord? – if incorrect this could delay Housing Costs Element – so provide claimant with correct info and encourage to change on UC account.

  • Are there arrears already on the rent account/ would claimant struggle to pay rent? – would an APA Managed Payment be appropriate?

  • Initial interviews/meetings – the claimant may need to book and attend several interview / meetings as part of the claim – and if a couple, both members will. Depending on the ‘type’ of interview/meeting the claim can be closed down very quickly for failure to attend. Will they have any problems attending these? – check text/emails daily, attend all interviews/meetings and arrive early! Claims often closed before giving claimant correct time limits.

  • On ESA before claiming UC and not been found fit for work? - then the decision on their limited capability (and any extra component) should be transferred to their UC claim if there is no gap between the ESA ending and their UC – but this is regularly missed – worth mentioning to work coach and adding message to journal – and challenging if missing from first assessment. NOTE: Likely to be referred for new Work Capability Assessment.

  • On ESA before claiming UC and was found fit for work? - can challenge ‘found fit’ decision via Mandatory Reconsideration and appeal - although will need to continue meeting Claimant Commitment until outcome known. If wins, will stay on UC, but may receive more UC and no work search requirements.

  • What will their Claimant Commitment say? - encourage claimant to be honest with their work coach about what they can and can’t do / educational achievements / health issues / other issues, to ensure reasonable adjustments / realistic expectations and so avoid sanctions. Work search can be ‘turned off’ for limited periods in certain circumstances such as: fleeing violence, drug/alcohol dependence and undergoing structured treatment.

  • Chat through the claimant’s responsibilities on UC – in particular time limits for reporting changes (to avoid overpayments and £50 penalty), and ensuring checking texts/emails and doing what work coach asks (otherwise will be sanctioned).

  • Do they have on-going access to internet? – will need this to manage claim, therefore need to think about where and when they can access – many claimants will need daily access. Do they need help / training / direct to computer clubs etc? Would they be better on the 'offline' system?

  • Communication is online by default - with texts or emails sent (whichever the claimant chose as preferred method of contact). So MUST regularly check phone/email and MUST inform DWP if change phone number or email address. Would they be better on the 'offline' system?

  • How much UC are they entitled to? Ensure will be correct…..

  • Many claimants will see a drop in their income – may need to re-budget!

  • Check Housing Costs Element: common problems with ‘untidy tenancies’ and housing costs contributions (ie non-dependant deductions).

  • Any long term health problems? If not previously on ESA can provide a ‘fit note’ and request a Work Capability Assessment – can request Claimant Commitment takes account of health problems, but claimant must ensure meets commitment requirements until outcome of WCA known.

  • Are they a carer for a disabled person / child? – could they get the Carer Element included in assessment?

  • Responsible for child/young person on DLA/PIP? - should get a Disabled Child Element included in assessment.

  • On PIP daily living or DLA mid or high rate care? – then there should not be any Housing Costs Contribution (ie nondependant deduction) deducted from their Housing Costs Element.

  • Council Tax Support – if already on CTS ensure LA know claimant has claimed UC, otherwise make new claim for CTS asap if could be entitled. Universal Credit is NOT a passport to Council Tax Support, so the LA may ask for information/evidence in connection with the claim and will usually need to see the UC award breakdown as they generally use some of the figures when assessing CTS.

  • Existing bill payments – may need to adjust date on which paid – notify if likely to miss next due payment.

  • Could there be any deductions?
    • If for a sanction – can be transferred across from JSA/ESA - is it worth challenging? (see website for more information).
    • Social Fund Loan – can ask for it to be recovered over longer period.
    • Third Party Deductions – taken at higher rate than through legacy benefits.
    • ‘Old’ DWP debts? - taken at higher rate than through legacy benefits.
    • HB Overpayments - taken at higher rate than through legacy benefits.

  • Finished work? – any wages / tax refunds etc count as earnings for Monthly Assessment Period received.

  • Employed? – advise that UC award will be based on wages received in each Monthly Assessment Period (MAP) – so award can vary – how can they ensure rent is paid? Warn them that if UC award drops to nil one month that they will have to make a reclaim for payments of UC to start again.

  • Self-Employed? – will need to report income and expenses on monthly basis – at end of Monthly Assessment Period (MAP).

  • And if been trading 12 months or more could be affected by the ‘minimum income floor’ rules. Warn them that if UC award drops to nil one month that they will have to make a reclaim for payments of UC to start again.

  • Childcare costs? – some people who weren’t eligible for childcare costs on legacy benefits will be under UC as no ‘hours’ rules. Also explain is a refund ie childcare must be paid for and must report amount paid for childcare every month by end of MAP in which paid – and then provide evidence.

  • Couple – one Pension Credit age? - probably better off on Pension Credit and HB - can swap – seek advice asap.

  • Been on HB?
    • And moved home – no HB for notice period at old property unless it was ‘specified’ or ‘temporary accommodation’.
    • New claim for UC made on or after 11th April 2018 & HB ended as a result? Check they received their 2 week HB run-on.
    • HB paid for a period a UC claimant is not entitled will be treated as unearned income and reduce UC award £1 for £1.

  • Is it too late to go back on to legacy benefits? – probably, as existing legacy benefits closed off quickly and no new claims allowed from working age claimants (unless a couple with one Pension Credit age – see above) but seek advice.

  • Are they getting all the other benefits they are entitled to? - remember UC only replaces six benefits – all the other benefits can still be claimed and could increase claimant’s overall income - in particular Personal Independence Payment.

  • Any vulnerabilities that may mean they need help with ensuring claim made and continues? - highlight to work coach. Would they be better on the telephone system?