In the news

SEPTEMBER 2019

Our bitesize news page includes the latest benefits news, guidance & recent relevant case law. Please let us know what you think and what  you'd like to see.

More changes to reporting of UC childcare costs

LATEST UPDATE Since this news page was first published, the DWP has further updated this procedure in a written statement to parliament (9th September) so that parents now have 'an additional month' to report childcare costs.

 

The government had previously unexpectedly changed the reporting procedure for childcare costs in UC (4th September).

In an unforeseen and unmarked amendment to its most recent edition of Touchbase Edition 136 (issued 9th August and updated on 4th September), the procedure to report costs had previously changed from 'within 30 days' to 'with good reason'.

Following the 4th September amendment, and in response to a question in parliament, DWP Minister Mims Davies has since said that parents will be able to ask their Work Coaches for the Flexible Support Fund (FSF) in order to pay 100% of  childcare costs upfront.

Childcare costs reported after UC assessment period 'without 'good reason' will not be paid but FSF can be used.

RECENT PIP CASE LAW

Quick links to selected recent PIP-related case law.

PIP

Mobility component is a special non-contributory cash benefit for purposes of Regulation (EC) 883/2004

CPIP/742/2018

Published 27th August 2019

 

Tribunal must make adjustments for vulnerable adults

CPIP/1271/2018

Published 6th August 2019

 

Tribunal must consider claimant’s entire journey for mobility activity 1

CPIP/2614/2018

Published 6th August 2019

 

Tribunal must take steps to rectify inadequacies of DWP responses

CPIP/580/2018

Published 23rd July 2019

 

Difference between prompting and social support and who is qualified to give it?

[2019] UKSC 34

https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/uksc-2017-0215.html

Published 18th July 2019

 

Use of heaters as Activity 5 aids for claimant with peripheral neuropathy

CPIP/2574/2018

Published 16th July 2019

 

Relying on claimant’s ability to drive and conflict between decision notice and statement of reasons

CPIP/2477/2018

Published 26th June 2019

Spending Round gives £40m for private DHPs

The Autumn Spending Round has promised £40m for Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) to claimants in private housing in England and Wales, following a report by the Residential Landlords Association saying the UC has affected rent payments to private landlords.

Sajid Javid's first Spending Round as Chancellor of the Exchequer also allocated an additional £36m to ensure that DWP decision-making is accurate and application processes are straightforward and safeguarding is improved.

In addition, as part of his £106m Plan for DWP Excellence, Mr Javid has included £7m to expand Jobcentre support in schools and £23 for 'a range of other plans', including support for recent veterans of the Armed Forces, for vulnerable people migrating to UC and outreach activities for those who are homeless. 

Sajid Javid's first Spending Round was fast tracked to 'clear the ground ahead of Brexit'.

Funeral Expenses Payments process improved

Recent changes to the Funeral Expenses Payment process mean that a claim can be made before the date of the funeral is finalised.

 

A DWP press release says that the new process means that rather than needing a funeral invoice as evidence of cost, families can submit their contract with the funeral director. This will be accepted as long as all other key information has been provided, which should significantly speed up the payment of claims.

UC design + inadequate LHA rates = family hardship

The design of Universal Credit combined with inadequate local housing allowance rates is pushing families unnecessarily towards hardship, rent arrears and homelessness, according to a Shelter report.

In its report 'From the Frontline', the national housing charity says that if these issues were rectified, Universal Credit could make a 'historic difference' but that 'the programme will not function as intended without tackling both'.

Managed migration pilot reveals more cracks

DID YOU KNOW....?

Quick links to recent benefits-related statistics for those who don't do Facebook or Twitter.

Amber Rudd resigns

Thérèse Coffey has been appointed Secretary of State for Work & Pensions following the resignation of Amber Rudd.

Breakdown of housing costs on UC awards

The DWP says it will provide a breakdown of housing costs on UC award decisions 'from Autumn 2019'.

12% go on to achieve employment

Only 12% of those on the Work & Health Programme go on to get a job, according to DWP statistics.

State Pension for EU residents

Government commits to uprating State Pension for EU residents till 2023 in the (now unlikely?) event of a no deal Brexit.

Tax credit errors blamed on job instability

Unstable working hours and zero hours contracts are contributing to tax credit errors, says HMRC report.

UC assessment period remains while case continues

The DWP will continue to block UC payments to working UC claimants who receive more than one payment for work within a single UC assessment period until their case has been heard by the Court of Appeal.

A High Court decision in January 2019 found that multiple payments within the monthly UC assessment period were unlawful but, according to a Commons Library briefing,  the government is using 'the powers of social security law' to bypass the ruling until the case is completely closed.

LATEST GUIDANCE

Links to recent government guidance and bulletins

LA Welfare Direct Bulletin 9/19

Latest guidance to LAs includes information on incorrect HB debt recovery from debtors’ partners; self employed earnings review and updated DHP guidance manual

Addition to Advice for Decision Making: Staff Guide

M7, a new chapter on UC managed migration and transitional protection has been added to Advice for Decision Making: Staff Guide

Council Tax reductions guide

Ombudsman publishes good practice guidance for council tax reductions

Guidance on UC transitional payments for previous SDP amounts

ADM Memo 15/19

 

Touchbase Edition 136

New DWP ministers, changes to UC childcare cost reporting, support for EU Settlement Scheme applications, support for survivors of domestic abuse, information for volunteers who claim benefits

DGM 11/19 / ADM Memo 14/19

Guidance following the Supreme Court decision that the extension of Workers Registration Scheme (EEA) was unlawful

LA Welfare Direct Bulletin 7/2019 lite

Changes to SDP payment arrangements and detail on UC managed migration pilot, improvements to Verify Earnings & Pensions Alerts and Third Party Deductions services

Introduction of Children’s Funeral Fund for England

DMG Memo 09/19 / ADM 12/19

Amount that can be deducted from benefits for child maintenance

Council tax support allocations

Localised Council Tax Support administration subsidy allocations 2019-20

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 or the rest of the UK.

N IRELAND

Fewer than 20 UC claimants opt out of direct payments to landlord

Steps2Success scheme helps more than 50% to remain in employment

78% of DLA reassessments awarded PIP

SCOTLAND

Introduction of new Child Payments from Christmas 2019 and Job Start Payments from Spring 2020.

Scottish government proposes use of CPI to uprate social security assistance

Scottish government has paid out £12.8m in Best Start payments for children since Dec 2018.


Online forms for disability benefits from 2020

No implicit consent for Scotland

Launch of Best Start payment cards

Scottish government rejects default housing benefit payments to landlords

Scottish Welfare Fund paid out £35m in 2018-19

splitting-bricks-main-960x540.jpg

Six Pins & Half a Dozen Needles: Sculpture by Alex Chinneck outside Assembly London.

The pilot for managed migration to Universal Credit has opened yet another can of legal, political and practical UC worms since its launch in Harrogate in the last week of July.

 

First, the legality of the pilot is in question - it commenced before there was time for its regulations to be scrutinised by parliament. The House of Lords said the government  had been disrespectful to start the pilot without prior parliamentary debate and went onto express their 'surprise and disappointment' that a negative procedure was followed to enable the launch.

 

This led to members of the Opposition tabling an Early Day Motion which seeks to annul the statutory instrument governing the managed migration regulations. UC Change Director Neil Couling countered that any such annulment would lead to a block on SDP payments to the most vulnerable.

And as all other government business takes second place to the ongoing Brexit debacle, it is unclear if or when the Early Day Motion will go through parliament. In the meantime, Couling has told the W&P Committee that they had 'already started the learning' from morning one.  Hmmm.

Compensation paid to SDP claimants

The first former Severe and Enhanced Disability Premium (SDP and EDP) claimants have received payments for lost income since their forced migration to UC.

The first payments were timed and promoted by the government to deflect attention from their over-hasty managed migration pilot launch (see above) .

 

According to UC Change Director Neil Couling, any shortfall between these amounts and former legacy benefits was because these payments were 'compensation' rather than 'transitional protection'.  This shortfall has since been the subject of letters to and from Mr Couling from NAWRA (National Association of Welfare Rights Advisors).

A third challenge to the government on behalf of those who previously received both the SDP and EDP and were moved onto UC before 16 January 2019 has been taken up by Leigh Day Solicitors.

The government has since issued guidance for those seeking transitional protection for loss of the SDP and with compensation and TP payments amounting to £16m having been paid up to the end of August, and average payments of £2000 per claimant, there is some good news to report.

However, the government has also simultaneously backtracked on providing transitional protection for those who only receive their SDP via housing benefit but do not receive an unemployment benefit, such as income related ESA. This will affect people with other income sources, such as  a private pension or partner's income.

We will be further discussing this and other issues affecting people migrating to Universal Credit, on our forthcoming  Universal Credit Overview course in  London on 30th October, for which some places are still available.

MORE CASE LAW

Quick links to selected recent non PIP-related case law.

ESA

Treatment of payments from a life-rent trust

CSE/49/2019

Published 20th August 2019

 

Reducing of overpayments by offsetting against other benefits

CE/297/2019

17th July 2019

 

ESA (EEA)

DWP failed to include full claim and work history at First Tier Tribunal

CE/3274/2016

Published 6th August 2019

 

INDUSTRIAL INJURIES

Tribunal must give reasons for deciding against doctor’s evidence

CSI/50/2019

Published 17th July 2019

 

CARERS ALLOWANCE

Self employed EEA national ‘gainfully employed’ although under NI contribution threshold

CG/733/2018

Published 27th August 2019

UNIVERSAL CREDIT (EEA)

Right to reside for dependent family members where dual national exercised Treaty rights pre citizenship

CUC/734/2018

Published 13th August 2019

 

Retaining self employed status when involuntarily unemployed within one year

CUC/2714/2018

Published 7th August 2019

 

Being in Great Britain with a right to reside that falls outside UC regulation 9(4)

CSUC/55/2019

Published 26th June 2019

JSA

There are many ways for a Tribunal to confirm a claimant’s identity

CJSA/3075/2016

Published 7th August 2019

 

Evidence of misrepresentation required if claim form not available

CJSA/2194/2017 and CJSA/2195/2017

Published 17th July 2019

FOR 12 MONTHS' FREE EXPERT BENEFITS SUPPORT,  book onto one of our open courses (or book an in-house course for your organisation). Any Benefits Training Co. course attendees wanting further advice with specific cases should contact the email address on their e-certificate.

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