In the news
Return to conditionality as jobcentres reopen
Much of Leicester remains in lockdown following
a surge in COVID19 cases
Changes ahead on UC treatment of earnings
People claiming Universal Credit who have been negatively affected by their wages having been paid twice in one UC assessment period can expect to be compensated following a Court of Appeal judgment.
The government has said it will not challenge the ruling, where three judges found the DWP had acted irrationally and unlawfully in their failure to adapt earned income assesssment rules in Universal Credit.
The landmark appeal case taken by Leigh Day and CPAG on behalf of Johnson & Ors is likely to have a significant impact, particularly on those whose double earnings in a single UC assessment period have led to a benefit cap.
UC auto reclaim regulations
Regulations on renewing claims following surplus earnings in Universal Credit have been amended to account for those who are on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) or Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).
if UC is wiped out by surplus earnings, claimants are usually forced to make a new claim but under the new regulations, an automatic reclaim will take place.
This is intended to help people getting payments like SEISS who may be subject to surplus earnings rules, but could affect anyone whose UC is wiped out by earnings. If claimants don't want to automatically reclaim, they will need to ask the DWP to end the claim. See guidance ADM Memo 10/20 for more details.
Links to recent government guidance & bulletins
Includes guidance for LAs on removal of bedroom tax for some family members with disabilities and their carers.
Guidance on the effect of CJRS and SEISS payments on Universal Credit claims (ADM) and legacy benefit claims (DMG)
Guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19
Guidance on coronavirus self employment and reclaims regulations
Guidance on temporary absence from the UK regarding cash sickness benefits including PIP, DLA and Carers Allowance.
Guidance on impact of CJRS and SEISS on JSA and new-style ESA payments
Includes guidance for LAs on easement of housing benefit rules on temporary absence from the UK during lockdown
Benefits sanctions have been reintroduced from the start of July, according to Work & Pensions Secretary, Dr Thérèse Coffey.
The return of conditionality will coincide with 'jobcentres reopening across the country' (although presumably not in Leicester nor any other area hit by a second wave of COVID-19).
Dr Coffey said that it was 'important as the jobcentres reopen fully this week, we reinstate the need for a claimant commitment.'
The DWP has removed the clause relating a pause in conditionality and COVID-19 from updated separate UC guidance affecting refugees, prison leavers, homeless people, people with a disability or health condition, couples and families. However, more recently it added that adhering to the new claimant commitment must reflect the 'new normal' and bear claimants' personal circumstances in mind.
In response, the Shadow Work & Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds has described the decision to reintroduce conditionality as'incomprehensible' and the Public & Commercial Services Union has called it 'premature' with the potential to create a 'perfect storm'.
RECENT CASE LAW
Quick links to selected recent benefits-related case law
Relevance of evidence submitted after tribunal decision but pertaining to the case
Published 24th June 2020
DWP acted unlawfully & irrationally over inflexible payments relating to the UC assessment period
Published 22nd June 2020
An invalid enforcement reference relating to a valid request for adjudication history
Published 24th June
WIDOWED PARENTS ALLOWANCE
The meaning of ‘spouse’ in relation to Widowed Parents Allowance and unrecognised marriages
Published 15th June 2020
Exclusion from Pension Credit for mixed age couples is not unlawful
Published 12th June 2020
STATUTORY SICK PAY
No coronavirus-related SSP for Uber drivers or other Limb B workers
Published 11th June 2020
Does lack of mobility necessarily mean inability to follow a route?
Published 15th June 2020
Proceeding with appeal without presenting officer / conflicting information in decision notice / entitlement to any PIP when reduced PIP was substantive issue of appeal
Published 9th June 2020
Validity of requirement to be living in Common Travel Area for 3 months before claim
Published 21st May 2020
Win a CPAG Welfare Benefits & Tax Credits handbook 2020/21
The annual Child Poverty Action Group Welfare Benefits & Tax Credits handbook 2020/21 has recently been published.
The handbook is an essential reference guide for any benefits advisor and contains detail on the changes to case law, benefit rates and other updates.
CPAG is an important charitable organisation campaigning for policies to address poverty, winning many landmark cases at appeal on behalf of people who claim benefits. As well as campaigning, CPAG hosts conferences, provides training and publishes a range of other welfare benefits-related guides, handbooks and a newsletter.
We will be sending a copy of the CPAG Welfare Benefits & Tax Credits handbook 2020/21 (worth £65) to one person who answers the following question correctly (or nearest estimate):
What is the minimum amount that can be paid as Universal Credit?
DID YOU KNOW?
Bitesize links to other benefits-related news:
Citizens Advice finds more than 1.4m people have no recourse to public funds in the UK.
A Joseph Rowntree Foundation report shows that 60% of families on UC have been forced to borrow money since lockdown
DWP statistics also show that 100,000 new claims were made in the w/c 9th June and the ONS confirms that the number on UC and JSA doubled between March and May 2020.
DWP confirms there is no requirement for form DS1500 to support a benefit claim under terminal illness rules.
The government has provided an additional £63m for LA emergency funds in England
Butterfly rainbow, Damien Hirst, 2020
Changes to SSP rules on shielding
People who are shielding due to clinical vulnerability will soon be unable to claim Statutory Sick Pay.
Exact dates vary* across the home nations, but from 1st August, people who have been shielding at home on the basis of vulnerability will no longer have an automatic right to SSP and will need the usual evidence from a GP about their condition (see full list in Guidance), rather than vulnerability to COVID-19.
Speaking for the government, Justin Tomlinson said he expects employers to 'do the right thing' to support shielding employees to safely transition back to work. He suggests the CJRS and SEISS for those whose employers are unable to offer a safe transition.
At time of writing, these SSP rules will change in England and N Ireland from 1st August. Scotland is currently advising shielding until 'at least 31st July' while Wales will continue until 16th August. Please check exact timings in your local area.
Legacy benefits run-on from 22/7
A one-off 'run-on' or additional amount will be added to the final legacy benefit awards of people who claim Universal Credit as part of the natural migration this month.
This is the DWP's attempt to quell requests for ongoing transitional protection to cover those who have been forced to claim UC as part of the natuarl migration.
So, for claimants moving from an income-related benefit, a further payment of their JSA, ESA and IS could be paid for a maximum of 2 weeks. This payment will have no impact on their UC payment received These new regulations come into effect from 22nd July.
Scotland, Northern Ireland & Wales
Brief links to articles, reports and guidance which separately affect benefits in Scotland, Wales and/or Northern Ireland, when they differ significantly to those in England or the rest of the UK.
Scottish government statistics on Young Carers Grant applications and awards
Almost 80% of council tax reduction recipients receive full reduction
Social Care Support Fund legislation for care workers financially affected by COVID19
Letter from Housing Minister to DWP demands action on rent during lockdown
Final draft report on feasibility of Citizens’ Basic Income
Scottish Social Security Commission calls for adult safeguarding principles and guidance to underpin primary legislation