In the news
Managed payments for private landlords
December 2017 - January 2018
Quick links to selected new guidance and bulletins from the DWP, most recent at the top of each section):
Private landlords can now set up managed payments via a new electronic process and without consent from tenants on Universal Credit who are more than two months in rental arrears.
News of the change came during a parliamentary debate on Universal Credit and the private housing sector, introduced by Lib Dem MP, Stephen Lloyd.. The then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, Caroline Dinenage responded:
We have simplified and sped up the process for private rented sector managed payment requests, which can now be done by email and on a single form, with no additional information required....
...when a private rented sector landlord asks for a managed payment to be set up and supplies evidence of two months’ rent arrears, we will implement the managed payment without requiring the claimant’s consent.
The government has since updated its guidance to landlords on UC and rented housing. You can be further updated on all the latest changes to UC and housing benefit by attending one of our forthcoming housing benefit or housing element courses.
1m children to lose out on free school meals
December 2017 to 11 January 2018
HEALTH CASE LAW
Quick links to recent health benefits-related case law (most recent at the top).
Previous evidence needed at tribunal after different outcome of PIP renewal claim
Published 15th January
Prompting from children to motivate PIP activities
Published 10th January
Claimant’s responsibility as a carer should be taken into account
Published 5th January
Socially appropriate communication must now be assessed
Published 21st December
Unlawful amendments made by DWP
Published 21st December
Assessing visual impairment for completing Activity 1 ‘safely’
Published 15th December
Tribunals must notify removal of previously awarded points
Published 12th December
Tribunal needs to identify aid or appliance when awarding points
Published 11th December
Is it fair for tribunal to proceed without an oral hearing?
11 Jan 2018
Doubts about a claimant’s credibility based upon misunderstanding of facts can amount to an error of law
Published 4th December
One million children are set to lose their free school meal entitlement once the government sets an income threshold in UC for entitlement.
According to a report by The Children's Society, the areas most likely to be affected are those with the highest child poverty index: London, the West Midlands and the North West.
The government's proposal to limit free school meals to a net income of under £7400 a year was recently subject to a Department of Education consultation. Findings are yet to be released.
Should the government continue to fund free school meals with all Universal Credit claims until the UC rollout is complete, about 2m children from low income families will benefit.
Help for DV victims
Help is available from the DWP for victims of domestic violence and abuse - see new DWP guidance.
75,000 ESA claims underpaid
Up to 75,000 people who claimed benefits including Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance & Income Support which became ESA between 2011 - 2014 may be owed arrears. Individuals will be contacted by the DWP and only those who qualify from October 2014 will be eligible.
4 December 2017 - 11 January 2018
NEW CASE LAW
Quick links to recent non health-related case law (most recent at the top of each benefit section).
Entitlement to bedroom dependent on who occupies the room
Published 19th December
Bedroom size needs to be able to hold a bedside table and clothes storage
Published 7th December
Change in 2009 Mortgage Limits could discriminate against Disabled claimants
Published 8th December 2017
Esther McVey has returned to the DWP, after an absence of almost three years, to assume the post of Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in the latest Cabinet reshuffle.
Ms McVey, MP since 2017 for George Osborne's former seat of Tatton after losing her seat in the 2015 general election, was a Minister of State in the DWP (2013-15) and Privy Councillor (2014) during the Cameron-Clegg coalition. She had previously been Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Disabled People (2012-13) and prior to that worked as director of her family's construction firm and as a TV and radio presenter. This is how she votes.
THE RETURN OF ESTHER McVEY
96% young people awarded UC Housing Element
96% of young people aged 18-21 have been awarded the housing element of Universal Credit since automatic entitlement ended for new claims in April 2017, according to government statistics.
The large number of successful claims is mainly due to exemptions from the new policy for some young people on the basis of:
Having dependent children (50%)
Being part of a couple 29%
Earning more than NMW for 16+housr a week (26%)
Other reasons 35%
'Other reasons' are described in the DWP figures as 'certain vulnerable people and those unable to live with their parents'. More on this in our Universal Credit: The Housing Element course on 14 May.
HMRC need to help vulnerable Tax Credit claimants more
A Public Accounts Committee report has raised concerns that HMRC is not doing enough to help vulnerable people with Tax Credit claims transferring to Universal Credit.
The report also warns that tax credit error and fraud has risen from 4.8% to 5.5% and is likely to rise further (estimated at 7-8%) as Tax Credit claims continue to transfer to UC.