In the news

OCTOBER 2019

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

How does a no-deal Brexit affect benefits?
A very bitesize no-deal summary

The government's current* no-deal Brexit proposals for EEA nationals claiming benefits, very bitesize and obviously subject to change:

 

The rules around free movement rights would remain until primary legislation is changed, including the existing Habitual Residence Test for EEA nationals.

 

Any EEA national who has arrived in the UK before Brexit day (31/10/19) could still apply to the EU Settlement Scheme until 31/12/20 and may be able to get means-tested benefits based on this status.

EEA nationals who arrive after a no-deal Brexit would be able to enter the UK as they do now and could then apply for a new European Temporary Leave to Remain (EuroTLR). The EuroTLR will last for three years and would then require another application under a new system.

An expanded downloadable A4 version of this summary is available here.

*at time of writing

Britain has not yet left the EU*, but whether or not it ever does and whatever our personal positions, welfare benefits have already been impacted. 

 

There is ongoing concern for the rights of EU residents in Britain following a possible no-deal Brexit,  although the DWP has recently claimed that 'mechanisms are in place between the DWP and the Home Office' for confirming settled and pre-settled status of EU nationals. These include printing off settled status notifications from online Home Office accounts, as per Para 6 of ADM Memo 9/19.

Meanwhile the Scottish government has called for additional measures across the UK to mitigate the effects of a no deal Brexit on people on the lowest incomes.

As well as stalling Brexit talks, Boris Johnson's recent attempt at proroguing parliament almost succeeded in killing off five bills waiting to go through, including the Universal Credit Sanctions (Zero Hours Contracts) Bill, the Universal Credit (Applications, Advice and Assistance) Bill and the Access to Welfare (Terminal Illness) Bill. Parliament resumed and these bills remain live only due to the intervention of Lady Hale and the Supreme Court judgment on the unlawfulness of the prorogation.

Brexit and post Brexit issues affecting benefits are  also covered in our constantly updated Benefits for EEA Nationals courses and accompanying post course support.

*at the time of writing

RECENT CASE LAW

Quick links to selected recent benefits-related case law

CARERS CREDIT

Extending time to apply for contributions credit for caring

Published 3rd October

UK/1118/2019

UNIVERSAL CREDIT

When medical appointments prevent attendance at hearing

Published 3rd October

CUC/270/2019

 

Minimum Income Floor is not unlawful

Published 19th September 2019

[2019] EWHC 2356 (Admin)

PIP

Length of journey does not always indicate ability to follow a route

Published 3rd October

CPIP/2567/2018

 

STATE PENSION

High Court dismisses 1950s-born women’s pension discrimination appeal

Published 3rd October 2019

[2019] EWHC 2552 (Admin)

 

ESA

Further evidence must first be requested for its absence to be used as reason for dismissal

Published 2nd October 2019

CE/40/2019

Use of informal interpreters at hearings

Published 30 September 2019

CE/1015/2019

 

ESA / EEA

Factual, not legal, residence applies to both Articles 17(1)a and 17(1)b

Published 12th September 2019

CE/98/2015

 

HOUSING BENEFIT / EEA

Courts must follow Ojo ruling on right to reside

Published 30 September 2019

CH/708/2019

CHILD BENEFIT / EEA

Pregnant EU national retains self employed status if returning to work ‘in reasonable time’

Published 19th September 2019

Case C‑544/18

Britons abroad 'reassured'

A letter has been sent by the NHS Business Advisory Service to all UK citizens living in the European Union about the ongoing security of their healthcare and state pension post-Brexit.

The letter should reassure the EU's 363,000 senior UK citizens that  their pension will be uprated for a further 3 years at a rate of 2.5% (£200 a year) for the length of this parliament, even if the UK leaves without a deal on 31st October.

The uprating will affect all UK seniors resident in the EEA and Switzerland. Any UK citizen resident in the EU with concerns about post-Brexit access to pension or health-related benefits can call a dedicated helpline team on 0191 218 1999.

UKPensionersSpain.jpg

There are currently almost 250,000 British pensioners living in Spain alone.

LATEST GUIDANCE

Links to recent government guidance and bulletins

LA Welfare Direct Bulletin 10/19

DWP news for local authorities includes new need for proof of UC claim for Free School Meals.

Claiming benefits as a refugee

Refugees do not now need NI number to claim Universal Credit.

LA Welfare Direct lite 9/2019

Further guidance for local authorities on SDP transitional payments

 

UC Advances

Guidance on confirmation of ID for UC advances

Touchbase Edition 137

DWP news bulletin offers guidance on UC for people without NI numbers, state pension for UK residents in EEA/Switzerland, managed payments to landlords and improved

Information about appointments

ADM Memo 16/19

Guidance on Social Fund Funeral Payment and Scotland’s Funeral Support Payment

Jobcentres to open at weekends?

The DWP has given its staff notice of its intention to extend its operating hours to Saturdays.

The DWP has told the Public & Commercial Services Union (PCS) that extended hours will not be for all members of staff, leading to  the assumption that some jobcentres will be open at weekends from March 2020, if enough staff are amenable to the plan.

The PCS has stated its opposition to the move, on the basis that recent DWP 'test & learn' pilots have shown little evidence of demand.

Benefits claimants can afford 1 in 20 home rents

People on housing benefit are unable to afford almost any of the privately rented homes in Britain, according to a report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

 

The findings in Locked Out: How Britain Keeps People Homeless were based on an analysis of over 62,000 2-bed rental properties advertised on a single day and mapped against the LHA rates for that area. They show that 5.6% (1 in 20) of homes were affordable for people claiming housing benefit and throw into question the government's recently announced figure of 16%.

73% success rate of PIP appeals raises questions

The 73% success rate of PIP appeals raises 'serious questions' as to the quality of the DWP's primary decision making, according to the Senior President of Tribunals, Sir Ernest Ryder.

While acknowledging the role of HM Courts & Tribunals Service to secure effective corrective justice, in a speech to the Institute of Legal Scholars, Sir Ernest highlighted social security appeal tribunals as places where vulnerable people in states of crisis  would be better served by a more proportionate, cost effective and timely form of justice.

He went on to suggest that improved sharing of aggregated data would promote more preventative justice, with Ombudsman schemes and regulatory bodies working together with clinical practice and law firms to reduce further harm.

DID YOU KNOW.....?

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

Third party UC claims investigated

Government confirms it is investigating 107 'third party individuals' over fraudulent UC claims.

RNIB training for Jobcentre staff

Jobcentre staff are to be provided with an online training programme by the RNIB to be able to better support people with impaired sight.

 

Foodbank demand increases in UC areas

Demand for foodbanks has increased by almost 50% in areas where UC has been rolled out for over two years.

Outsourcing PIP has caused harm

An Institute of Government report says that the outsourcing of PIP assessments is harmful to vulnerable people.

Conference claims and commitments

Party conference season is in full swing with the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties each committing to improve on the current welfare benefits system.

The Conservative Party has claimed it will 'continue to improve Universal Credit' until it works. In her maiden speech to conference as a Minister, the new Work & Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey also pledged a £4m package to help people find 'their dream job'.

 

Her commitment to further improving Universal Credit came after Jeremy Corbyn had announced the Labour Party's intention to scrap the 'inhumane' benefit.  Labour have also committed to set up a network of People's Law Centres and train 200 new social welfare lawyers.

The Liberal Democrats have promised £5bn a year to 'make the benefits system fair for everyone' after their conference passed a motion to address the widening wealth gap with 'A Fairer Share for All'.

Meanwhile, the Green Party is advocating a Universal Basic Income and a four day working week. Plaid Cymru has pledged an additional £35 a week for every Welsh child in a low income family; the SNP conference takes place in mid October and the Brexit party's was in September but there was no mention of benefits or any welfare policy whatsoever.

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.

SCOTLAND

Calls for 3 month notice period before withdrawal of Child Payment

No family size limit for Scottish Child Payment

 

First annual report on progress of Scottish social security system

 

Young Carer Grant to be offered on first come, first served basis where there are conflicting claims

 

Eligibility rules for Job Start Payment

 

Annual Report on Welfare Reform estimates £3.7bn cut in spending in 2020/21.

 

SSSC launches enquiry into benefit take-up (response deadline 21 Oct)

Funeral benefit now provided in Scotland

N IRELAND

Call for NI welfare reform mitigation package to extend beyond March 2020

WALES

Welsh government launches consultation on strategic equality objectives (responses by 19 November)

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