In the news
The Budget according to benefits
The 2021 Budget has been announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak.
In terms of benefits, the main changes (many of which will not come into effect immediately) are as follows:
The Universal Credit (UC) taper will be reduced from 63% to 55% by 1st December 2021
UC work allowances for people with children or with limited capability for work will increase by £500 a year
There will be a continuation of the Covid-related higher surplus earnings threshold for UC claimants to £2500 (rather than £300) until April 2023
£671m has been allocated to ensure completion of the (much delayed) UC rollout by March 2025
A u-turn on the decision to extend minimum PIP claims to 18 months and instead to set up a triage system with separate test criteria for a ‘Severe Disability Group’
The budget has also brought forward exemption from the LHA shared accommodation rate for victims of domestic abuse and modern slavery from October 2023 to October 2022.
While politicians consider environmental issues at COP26, artists like Thukral & Tagra have been questioning the effects of global consumerism for years
RECENT CASE LAW
Quick links to selected recent benefits-related case law
INDUSTRIAL INJURIES DISABLEMENT BENEFIT
What is the difference between injuries sustained ‘in the course of’ and ‘out of’ employment?
Published: 18th October 2021
How a history of benefit fraud can affect tribunal’s judgement of a later claim
Published: 13th October 2021
Effect of functioning alcoholism on meeting PIP activity descriptors
Published: 13th October 2021
Tribunal cannot assume that claimant’s ability to engage face to face in one setting is applicable in another
Published: 1st October 2021
Court of Appeal rules that UC benefit cap earnings assessment is not irrational or unlawful for 4 weekly-paid claimant
Decision date: 8th October 2021
Proof of payment rule requiring upfront childcare costs is not unlawful
Decision date: 13th October 2021
FUNERAL EXPENSES PAYMENT
Funeral expenses must be used for the final disposal of the deceased person and related ceremony in the UK
Published 8th October 2021
Chancellor Rishi Sunak shares the 2021 budget
Links to recent government regulations, guidance & bulletins, most recent at the top
Regulations on extension of period in which some ESA-related COVID easements remain in force
Guidance on meaning of the word ‘funeral’ for Funeral Expenses Payment
Regulations clarify when benefits sanctions can be escalated
Guidance on exemption to bedroom tax for people living in social housing sanctuary schemes
Guidance for LA Housing Benefit staff working with claimants with no EUSS status at the end of the grace period (30 June 2021)
Guidance on the reintroduction of Minimum Income Floor
Universal Credit case challenges
Depending on your point of view, there have been some surprising results in the Court of Appeal lately after challenges to the benefit cap.
In both the Salvato case (challenging up-front childcare costs) and the Pantellerisco appeal (benefit cap for four weekly paid earners working 16 hours a week at minimum wage), both claimants intend to go to Supreme Court after their Court of Appeal disappointments.
Salvato has sought permission to appeal and in Pantellerisco they have applied for legal aid. The advice of our experts to anyone who is in a similar situation is still to ask for a mandatory reconsideration & appeal.
Requesting an audio recording of a PIP assessment
Any claimant requesting an audio recording of their PIP assessment will be given the option to wait until that service is in place before their assessment takes place.
According to new Minister for Disability, Health & Work Chloe Smith, ‘claimants will not be penalised if they are unwilling to attend an assessment until their request for audio recording can be fulfilled’. Ms Smith also confirmed that the arrangements for providing audio recording are being finalised, and will hopefully be in place 'as soon as practically possible’. In the meantime, PIP applicants can continue to record their own assessments if they let the assessor know in advance.
Allocation and use of Household Support Fund
Therese Coffey, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has given more details on the Household Support Fund and how it will be allocated.
Her speech to Parliament followed a draft launch letter with allocations to local authorities on Household Support Fund and guidance for use including that it should be used for essential costs and should only be used for housing costs in ‘exceptional cases of genuine emergency’.
Quick links to other benefits-related news
A HIgh Court challenge which could affect thousands is being brought by the parent of a disabled child affected by the cut to the lower child disability addition under Universal Credit.
Nearly one million UC or Housing Benefit claimants had rent liabilities exceeding their Local Housing Allowance in May 2021.
75% of UC claimants will be worse off despite the taper cut and raise in allowances in the budget, says the Resolution Foundation.
More than 300,000 PIP claims will be reviewed as a result of the Supreme Court decision on MM re Activity 9 (engaging face to face).
Chancellor responds to call for increase in legal aid
The Chancellor has made a commitment to increasing thresholds for access to justice in the Budget following the suggestions of an all-party parliamentary group.
The recent report from the Westminster Commission surmises that there will be increased demand for legal assistance as we emerge from the Covid pandemic and recommends restoring legal aid for early legal advice to pre LAPSO Act (2012) levels in all areas of social welfare law.
Scotland, N Ireland & Wales
Links to articles, reports and guidance which separately affect benefits in Scotland, Wales and/or Northern Ireland, when they differ significantly to those in England or the rest of the UK.
£41m Winter Support Fund for low income households
Regulations on information-sharing and PIP/DLA equivalence relating to the introduction of the Child Disability Payment
Strategic plan to increase access to benefits
Consultation on plan to end the need for food banks
Transfer process from DLA to Child Disability Payment started on 11th October 2021
Updated information on assessing low income for self-isolation support grant
Scotland to go ahead with children’s rights legislation despite Supreme Court judgment
Regulations relating to the duty of ministers to consider effect of inflation on devolved benefits
JRF report says Scotland currently unlikely to meet 2024 child poverty targets
Regulations on information sharing related to benefits
Social security regulations for third country nationals living in Northern Ireland post Brexit
NI Assembly votes to call on Executive to retain UC uplift until end of financial year
Universal Income pilot will begin in 2022-23 ‘subject to the resolution of practical matters’.