In the news
£1.5bn Universal Credit support package
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, reveals the Autumn Budget 2017
FURTHER CHANGES AHEAD
Although the recent announcements have been cautiously welcomed, the Work & Pensions Select Committee has since launched an inquiry entitled Next steps to fix UC in which it requests submissions regarding UC and self employment, Free School Meals, child care support and work incentives.
In addition, the Universal Credit (Application, Advice & Assistance) Bill has recently had its first reading in the Commons. Introduced by SNP MP Dr Philippa Whitford, the new UC Bill proposes, amongst other things, an automatic option for twice monthly payments and direct housing payments.
A £1.5bn support package for Universal Credit has been announced in the Autumn Budget, including amendments to the full service Universal Credit rollout schedule and an end to new UC claims in live service areas.
The Chancellor’s announcements are the result of pressure on the government from many sources, including the Work & Pensions Committee and various advice organisations. They have since been backed up by support plans from David Gauke, Secretary of State for Work & Pensions and an amended timetable outlined by Director General of UC, Neil Couling, in a letter to local authority Chief Executives.
The DWP have now also published a revised schedule for full UC, which pushes the rollout back several months in many areas.
BITESIZE CHANGES TO UC
DEC 2017 No new claims in live areas - all new claims in these areas will be for legacy benefits and tax credits till December 2018
JAN 2018 Advance payments of up to 100% available with 12 month repayment period
FEB 2018 Abolition of 7 day waiting period before UC claim
APR 2018 Temporary accommodation to be paid for through Housing Benefit
APR 2018 Two week transition for anyone moving from HB to UC housing payment
DEC 2018 End of UC live service
Timeline from Neil Couling's letter to LAs
Billions of underpaid benefits
75,000 ESA claims underpaid
David Gauke, Secretary of State for Work & Pensions has announced that around 75,000 people may be owed arrears.
Those who were moved from benefits including Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance & Income Support onto ESA between 2011 - 2014 may be owed arrears. Individuals will be contacted by the DWP, only those who qualify from October 2014 will be eligible.
Free childcare on UC consultation
To participate on Dept of Education's consultation on a UC earnings threshold for free childcare for 2 year olds, make a submission using the online consultation form by 15 January 2018.
Many people are losing out on benefits payments by not claiming them properly.
A new DWP report on Fraud & Error in the Benefits System reveals that PIP and ESA are especially under-claimed, mainly because changes in medical conditions are often not reported to the DWP..
It is the first time the DWP has included PIP in the statistics with £190 million underpaid. About £30 million of this is due to decision making errors and about £160 million is because claimants do not always report a deterioration in their condition
New UC freephone helplines
New FREEPHONE helplines have been published for Universal Credit claims.
0800 328 9344 (Live)
0800 328 5644 (Full service)
Anyone ringing the old number should hear a message with a new number to call. See the DWP press release for more details.
November / December 2017
NEW CASE LAW
Quick links to selected recent benefits-related case law (most recent at the top of each section):
ESA / EEA
Christmas for careleavers
Christmas, for many young people who have been looked after and then dropped by the care system, is 'a day to dread and then forget'.
For the past five years, poet, speaker and former careleaver Lemn Sissay has been at the forefront of a foundation to provide a special Christmas for young careleavers across the country.
The Benefits Training Co. is supporting the Lemn Sissay Foundation Christmas Dinner 2017/18 crowdfunding appeal to provide Christmas dinners for careleavers in Canterbury, the Wirral, Stockport, Manchester, Richmond, Hackney, Leeds, Sheffield and Birmingham.
Join the crowdfund or click on your nearest location above to help in other ways to make Christmas a better time of year for young careleavers in your area.