In the news


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

Problems with the Severe Disability Premium gateway


The Benefits Training Co. advice team gets lots of enquiries about people who should have stayed on legacy benefits due to the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) gateway but have been incorrectly advised to claim UC instead.


This often happens where someone gets old style ESA which should have included an SDP but didn’t due to DWP error. A similar issue can occur when someone wins an appeal and is awarded PIP retrospectively.

BTC is currently supporting many local advice services and voluntary organisations to help people like Mr B (see SDP CASE STUDY) get the right decision and receive the payments they are owed.

Look out for similar cases and, If you have been on one of our training courses in the past 12 months, please contact us for support. Alternatively, you may wish to book onto our forthcoming Limited Capability for Work course on 4th February.




  • Mr B transferred from Incapacity Benefit to Contributory ESA (old style) around 2011.

  • Mr B lived with his partner until they separated in September 2019.

  • Mr B’s partner worked and so they did not qualify for a top-up of income-related ESA.

  • Mr B has been in receipt of PIP enhanced rate daily living component since last year.

  • When Mr B’s partner moved out in September 2019 Mr B reported this to the DWP and he should have been awarded income related ESA including a Severe Disability Premium, but he was instead advised to claim Universal Credit which he did.

  • As a result of DWP error, Mr B is likely to be at least £120 per month worse off.


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

SSAC consults on Motability Scheme

Social Security Advisory Committee questions the validity of a scheme only accessed by one third of eligible people with disabilities. Respond by 3rd December.

New funding to help people claim

A new £10m fund has been launched by the government to support vulnerable people with their Universal Credit claims.

Too many benefits appeals?

The Tribunal Service is struggling recruit enough panel members to cope with the number of appeals against DWP decisions.


Long wait for ESA chat

Government figures show the average waiting time for a call to the ESA helpline in Sept 2019 was 25 minutes, double last year’s average.


Representative participation at work

New DWP report supports stay-at-home women from ethnic communities into work.


Extra funds for UC home visits

DWP allocated an additional funding (to reach £5.5.m by 2023/4) for the home visiting service within Universal Credit.

Work & Pensions Secretary Dr Thérèse Coffey

Coffey wants to speed up managed migration process

The new Work & Pensions Secretary​, Dr Thérèse Coffey has said she wants to speed up the managed migration of Universal Credit.


In her first meeting with the Work & Pensions Select Committee (and, in fairness, before a General Election was announced) Dr Coffey described the Harrogate pilot as 'too cautious' .


Dr Coffey has a PhD in Chemistry and has been MP for the Suffolk Coastal constituency since 2010. She became Work & Pensions following the resignation of Amber Rudd in September. You can see her voting record here.


Quick links to selected recent  benefits-related case law


Using crutches for dressing/undressing

Published 24th October 2019



Adjourning tribunal when medical assessment is in question

Published (N Ireland)



Guidance on application of Activity 9 (Engaging face to face)

Published 3rd October 2019



Where first decision was made by tribunal and not decision maker

Published 3rd October 2019



How the need to consume food in liquid form might affect a claim

Published 3rd October 2019



There is more to planning and following a journey than driving

Published 3rd October 2019




Child needing daily attention for more than one and half hours is a significant portion

Published 3rd October 2019



Bedroom tax unlawful for woman in sanctuary scheme

Published 24th October 2019

[2019] ECHR 753



No compensation for EDP claims unlawfully moved onto UC

Published 23rd October 2019

[2019] EWHC 2774 (Admin)


Child Benefit is exportable if no overlap with other EU state’s family benefits

Published 9th October 2019


Local councils call for welfare shake-up

London councils have called for a wholesale redesign of the national framework of local welfare.

Their recent report Supporting Low-Income Londoners: The Future of Local Welfare makes the case for giving local councils a leading role in allocating locally administered support as the most effective means of responding to local needs, from prevention to crisis managment.

Claiming UC and other benefits as a refugee

Image from For Sama, an award-winning docmentary by

Waad el-Kataeb, a Syrian journalist now living in the UK.

The DWP has launched a new leaflet to support refugees with their benefits applications.

The information in the leaflet, which assumes excellent knowledge of English on the refugee's part, is also available online here.


Links to recent government guidance and bulletins

ADM Memo 18/19 & DMG Memo 13/19

Capital disregards for arrears of maternity allowance and Armed Forces Independence Payment


DGM Memo 14/19

Guidance on addition of Dupuytren's Contracture to list of prescribed diseases

HB Circular S11/2019

Guidance on the disapplication of the Housing Benefit Rent Rebate Subsidy in England from April 2020


Touchbase Edition 138

Includes information for UK nationals returning from the EU, the launch of the DWP’s benefits information Facebook page and Christmas jobs campaign


LA Welfare Direct Lite 10/2019

New guidance on claiming benefits as a refugee and information on claiming the Young Carers Grant in Scotland.

Universal Credit: debts & deductions

Updated guidance on new maximum permitted deduction of 30% from UC payments (as announced in Budget 2018).

ADM Memo 17/19
Memo with updated guidance on the interpretation of descriptors under Activity 3 - Therapy and managing a health condition following Upper Tribunal decision CPIP 721 2016 in November 2016. 

Responses to consultation on Claimant Commitment

Some of the UK's most influential advice organisations working with and on behalf of people claiming benefits have called for claimants' first Universal Credit payments to be accelerated.

Child Poverty Action Group, Citizens Advice, Citizens Advice Scotland, Advice NI, Mind and Scope all responded to the consultation on Claimant Commitment and suggested that providing the first payment before requiring claimants to sign up to the Commitment would improve the power dynamic and therefore encouragement engagement.

Various organisations also suggested:

  • removing work-related requirements for those whose work capability assessment is pending

  • removing the threat of sanctions and focussing on overcoming barriers to accessing employment

  • introducing a formal right to challenge a refusal to apply adaptations to the Commitment

New PIP reassessments of 'managing therapy' 

The DWP are carrying out further reassessments of PIP claims which may be eligible for additional benefits in repsect of Daily Living Activity 3: Managing therapy or monitoring a health condition.

The review follows the Upper Tribunal's decision on 28 November 2016 SSWP v LB [2016] UKUT 0530 (AAC) which related to the ongoing management of symptoms arising from diabetes, anxiety and dyslexia.


The DWP has issued general guidance (ADM 17/19) on Activity 3 as well as specific guidance relating to each of the two aspects of the judgment:

a) Managing medication and monitoring a health condition as therapy  and

b) Special diet as therapy.

Pertinent claims that were made after 28 Nov 2016 and before 15 March 2017 in a) and after 28 November or  date of claim in b) will be reviewed by the DWP without face to face interviews.

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.


Response to consultation includes time limits for redetermination of Disability Assistance benefit in Scotland

More than half Scottish UC claimants have housing element paid direct to landlord

New Social Security Charter includes a framework to assess benefits policy and delivery to report annually from 2020

Citizens Advice Scotland calls for better support for people with disabilities

£0.5m funding for advice organisations to support benefit take up



Benefits in Wales report says Discretionary Assistance Fund should be available to UC claimants awaiting first payment


69% of single parents on benefit cap have child under 5 say DoC statistics

Call for disability benefit appeal tribunals to seek early evidence from GPs

760 people have received PIP arrears averaging £3480 each following the NI review of Activity 1 mobility component.

Still no bereavement support for cohabitees

The Work & Pensions Select Committee has called  for an end to the ‘terrible injustice’ of unmarried parents and cohabitees not receiving bereavement support.

The criticism comes a year after the McLaughlin report said that the government's refusal to pay bereavement support to a widowed mother because she was not married to her children's father was incompatible with human rights law.