In the news
Our bitesize news page includes the latest benefits news, guidance and recent case law. Please let us know what you think and what else you'd like to see.
Government rethink managed migration
The government has reassessed its plan for the managed migration of UC.
Described, perhaps optimistically, as an 'overhaul' by The Guardian, the managed migration will now begin at a slightly slower pace, with up to 10,000 'test case' claimants moving from legacy benefits onto Universal Credit from July 2019.
The changes were announced, along with a revised set of draft regulations, in the government’s published response to the Social Security Advisory Committee’s report on managed migration.
The SSAC report followed its consultation on draft regulations for the rollout of UC and asked four main questions of the government:
If UC was deliverable
If UC was explicable
If UC was proportionate to the problem it was trying to solve
If UC was fair
The report highlighted the anxieties of some of the 300 people who had responded to the consultation and described the migration timetable as 'unrealistic'.
In response, the government has accepted most of the recommendations, either in full or in principle, and says it will continue to work with stakeholders, including claimants, to design the process of managed migration. Suggested developments include:
Early non-mandatory testing of volunteer claimants
Continual testing of the managed migration across all benefits and at every stage of the rollout
Exploring options for implicit consent, where organisations can respond on behalf of claimants.
The revised draft regulations also make provision for:
A minimum notice period of 3 months for the managed migration of a claim to UC
Backdating a UC claim to the deadline day when a claim is made in a new month
Introduction of a gateway condition to prevent those with a severe disability premium from naturally migrating to UC after a change in circumstances from 16th January 2019.
Despite repeated requests from Frank Field MP, the revised regulations were not given to the Work & Pensions Committee Chair for scrutiny before being laid before Parliament and he had previously said he would vote them down unless they had 'enough safeguards to protect the vulnerable'.
RECENT CASE LAW
Quick links to selected recent benefits-related case law:
CHILD TAX CREDIT
For competing claims, decision must be made on who has main responsibility
Published 9th October 2018
Tribunal does not need to give reasons for award loss in DLA to PIP transfer cases when PIP decision differs from or is not based on DLA decision
Published 12th October 2018
Evidence of immediate threat to home ownership does not mean practical compulsion to sell
Published 12th October 2018
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond delivers his 2018 budget
Work allowance rise announced in budget
Chancellor Philip Hammond’s latest budget includes a rise in Universal Credit work allowances of £1000 from April 2019.
Many of the benefits related budget announcements have since been included in Esther McVey's announcement on managed migration (see Government rethink on managed migration), including changes to the UC rollout schedule; an additional two weeks JSA or Income Support at the start of Universal Credit claim (from July 2020) and extending the 12 month Minimum Income Floor for self employed people on UC (from July 2019 for managed migrations and from Sept 2020 for new claims).
Funding will be made available for previously announced measures such as transitional protection for people moving on to UC; greater support in UC for kinship carers and adopters; retaining housing benefit for supported housing residents and reinstating housing support in UC for 18-21 year olds.
The government are also extending the advance repayment period from 12 to 16 months (from Oct 2021) and delaying the transfer of Housing Benefit to Pension Credit until 2023. Dupuytren's Contracture has been added to the list of eligible conditions for Industrial Disablement Benefit and providing a statutory entitlement to two weeks parental bereavement leave from April 2020.
DID YOU KNOW....?
Quick links to recent benefits-related statistics for those who don't do Facebook or Twitter.
DWP expects to pay £970m in ESA underpayments
The government has published figures predicting the numbers affected by ESA underpayments.
Food bank use up 13% from last year
The Trussell Trust has published statistics showing that the use of food banks from April-September has increased by 13% in a year, and blames the five week delay before the first UC payment for the rise.
Working people with disabilities worse off under UC
A Citizens Advice report shows that working people with disabilities can be up to £300 per month worse off under Universal Credit
UC housing costs reintroduced for all 18-21 year olds
As confirmed in the budget (see left), new regulations will reintroduces entitlement to housing costs for all 18-21 year olds in UC from 31st December. An extension of the UC support for kinship and adoptive carers also comes into effect this month, from 28th November 2018.
DWP 'needs more UC case managers'
A call for more case managers to oversee the Universal Credit rollout has been made by the Public & Commercial Services Union.
The Union has warned that too much pressure is currently being put on staff who ‘know that vulnerable people are being poorly served’ by the DWP.
According to a PCS bulletin, many DWP case managers are receiving 15+ calls a day, which is far in excess of the 45 average calls a week presumed by the government. In spite of a steadily increasing telephony service, case overload means there is less time left to deal with the necessary follow up work and associated admin, which not only costs the DWP more in terms of overtime but also has a profound knock-on effect to those people who are needing assistance with their UC claim.
Links to recent government guidance and bulletins :
Changes to time limit on claiming Sure Start maternity grant
Treatment of benefit arrears and capital disregard rules for UC and other income-related benefits
HOUSING BENEFIT / UC
DWP asks for LA experiences of handling housing benefit for people in supported accommodation.
Government urged to rethink single payment policy
The government has been asked to ‘urgently rethink’ its policy of paying UC to one household member.
In a recent report on Domestic Abuse, the Home Affairs Select Committee highlights how the payment of UC to one named claimant can lead to or exacerbate domestic abuse, making it especially hard for the unpaid partner to leave an abusive situation if they have no access to benefits.
The Committee Chair, Yvette Cooper has asked for split payments to be standard in line with the Scottish system, reminding the government that separate family payments have been the norm since the introduction of the family allowance ‘for good reason’.
Making a repeat UC claim after a nil award
The government has confirmed the process for making a repeat UC claim following a nil award.
The process is laid out in the October 2018 edition of the Universal Credit Landlord Engagement Newsletter.
The newsletter also advises that in October 2018 there were 470 landlords enrolled as trusted partners on their landlord portal. The plan is for 90% of social landlords to register by December.