In the news
UC managed migration pilot to start in North Yorkshire
Benefits claimants in Harrogate will be the first to experience the managed migration onto Universal Credit, the Work & Pensions Secretary has announced.
The managed migration (or transfer from legacy benefits to UC) of up to 10,000 claims will begin in Harrogate in July 2019, according to Amber Rudd, who described the switch from ‘the old and outdated benefits system’ to universal credit as ‘a positive and important moment’ which ‘needs to be done carefully’.
A large number of factors apparently led to the North Yorkshire town being chosen to start the pilot, including the local jobcentre’s significant
Leafy Knaresborough in the relatively well-to-do borough of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, where the pilot for the managed migration onto Universal Credit will begin in July.
experience of Universal Credit, with additional support to be put in place at Harrogate Jobcentre Plus, bespoke support for vulnerable claimants and possible home visits.
RECENT CASE LAW
Quick links to selected recent benefits-related case law.
EEA / DLA / AA
Published 7th March 2019
Objective evidence critical for ‘genuine & sufficient’ disability benefits test
Lack of transitional protection not unlawful
Published 1st March 2019
PIP / UC
DWP workaround emails to disabled claimant meet Equality Act
Published 27th February 2019
Supercession of UC and early termination of PIP payments
Published 22nd February 2019
Appealing over change of length of award
Published 23rd February 2019
EEA / PIP
Zambrano care applies to adults as well as children
Published 23 February 2019
Lack of BSL signer at tribunal does not affect judgment
Published 23rd February 2019
CHILD TAX CREDIT
Judicial review not appropriate when statutory appeal is available
Published 12th February 2019
Use of DWP data matching process for HB overpayment
Published 7th February 2019
Evidence of unnecessary natural migration to UC
The Work & Pensions Committee has been presented with evidence that claimants are being unnecessarily moved from legacy benefits onto UC when it is inadvisable to do so.
The evidence, which staff at the Benefits Training Co. contributed to via Dr Phil Agulnik, Director of EntitledTo, was given as part of the Committee's ongoing inquiry into the natural migration to UC and has been passed on to the Secretary of State for Work & Pensions in a letter from Committee Chair, Frank Field.
Easing of DV conditionality?
A Women’s Aid report on The Economics of Abuse has called for domestic violence related conditionality within work-related requirements for benefits to be eased from 13 weeks to 12 months.
Severe conditions criteria and ESA reassessments
More than 23,000 ESA claimants with severe conditions are exempt from repeat assessments, according to (former) Disabilities Minister Sarah Newton.
Of these, nearly half (9,500) are exempt on the basis mental health or behavioural disorders.
A complete breakdown showing the type of condition and duration of claims is available in Ms Newton's written statement to Parliament.
Links to recent government guidance and bulletins :
Guidance on requirement for DWP to give adequate notice before sanctions decisions
Various guidance to LAs including letters to mixed aged couples re changes to pension credits and pension related housing benefits. LA Welfare Direct 3/2019
Guidance for local authorities re change in mixed age couples entitlement to pension credit and pension age housing benefit
PIP & ESA assessments to merge
Assessments for PIP and work capability assessments for ESA/UC will be integrated into a unified service by 2021.
In a written statement to Parliament, Work & Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd announced the development of a single digital platform for all assessments and, as well as a 'Proof of Concept' pilot scheme for UC claimants to have conditionality switched off whilst they await their assessments, there will be an end to PIP reviews after state pension age.
UC staff on strike in Midlands
Around 250 DWP staff working on Universal Credit in Walsall and Wolverhampton have been on a two day strike over their ‘unmanageable workload’.
Amongst other things, the UC workers, who are members of the Public & Commercial Services Union (PCS), are demanding:
5,000 new staff with permanency for fixed term staff
A limit to the number of phone calls per case manager
Limiting the size of the national telephony hub; no to contact centres, yes to service centres.
Impact of welfare reforms
What has been your experience of the impact of welfare reforms?
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Health in All Policies, chaired by Debbie Abrahams MP (Lab) is looking for submissions before 22nd March to its inquiry into the impact of the 2016 Welfare Reform & Work Act, especially the effects of the benefit cap, benefit freeze and changes to Child Tax Credit and the child element in UC, on children and people with disabilities.
DID YOU KNOW....?
Quick links to recent benefits-related statistics for those who don't do Facebook or Twitter.
Benefits in the Spring Statement
Mixed age couples changes save £1bn
Government research & analysis shows that £1bn will be saved over five years following changes to mixed age couples access to pension credits and housing benefit.
25% say circumstances ignored
A quarter of all claimants said their personal circumstances were not taken into account when setting up the Claimant Commitment.
Benefits cuts and mental health services
In a new report, 92% of NHS mental health leaders say that benefits cuts have led to an increase in demand for their services.
Rewards for best claimants?
Cover for The Moody Blues 1971 album Every Good Boy Deserves Favour
People who consistently meet their job seeking conditions should be rewarded, according to a Conservative think tank.
In a report entitled: Helping Hand? Improving Universal Credit, Bright Blue, which describes itself as an 'independent think tank and pressure group for liberal Conservativism', has suggested supplementary payments for those who meet their job seeking criteria, as well as a disregard for overpayments which are the responsibility of the DWP and a 25% upfront payment for new claims.
So would that be a good idea? Please send us your thoughts on how these suggestions would or wouldn't help the people you advise and support.
Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland
We link briefly to articles and guidance which separately affect benefits in Scotland, Wales and/or Northern Ireland only when they differ significantly to those in England.
Publication of the timetable for devolution of benefits
Statistics on children living in families with limited resources 2014-2017
Scrutiny of Young Carer Grant applications first priority of SCSS
Steps 2 Success bulletin shows mandatory work scheme helped 30% into work