In the news
Our bitesize news page includes the latest benefits news, guidance and recent case law. Please let us know what you think and what else you'd like to see.
Benefit cap discrimination challenge by lone parents
Lone parents fighting the benefit cap on grounds of discrimination are about to take their challenge to the Supreme Court.
Matrix Chambers, acting for CPAG, have been granted a 'leapfrog certificate' to take the case DS & Others vs SSWP to the Supreme Court. It looks likely that they will join forces with appellants in another similar case (DA & Ors vs SSWP), which was recently told by a majority decision of 2:1 in the Court of Appeal that the cap does not unlawfully discriminate against lone parents with children under the age of two.
Following that case, the DWP has issued guidance to local authorities in preparation for further possible appeals against any benefit cap decisions which could be seen to discriminate against lone parents.
More than 50% will not take up loan
Recent DWP statistics show that of 54,000 Support for Mortgage Interest claimants contacted by phone, 27,000 indicated that they will decline the new loan which is replacing the SMI from 6 April. New guidance on the change is also available here.
Windrush generation claims
Any people from the 'Windrush generation' who were claiming benefits should not have had them stopped due to a lack of identity papers and will be offered compensation, according to Home Secretary Amber Rudd in parliament on 23 April.
All 18-21 year olds on UC entitled to housing support
The government has extended entitlement to housing support for all young people in Universal Credit.
Although housing support has always been available to the most vulnerable 18-21 year olds claiming benefits, this change in policy is being seen as a welcome u-turn by many.
In a written statement, Secretary of State Esther McVey said that the government was... "committed to providing targeted support for young people so that everyone, no matter what their start in life, is given the very best chance of getting into work."
6% of full UC claims are deducted 40% from the start
The government has confirmed that more than 6% of full service Universal Credit claims begin with a 40% deduction rate.
The deductions are now getting some national media attention, with a recent story in the Sunday Herald highlighting the effects of high deductions on one in every fifteen people claiming UC.
Alok Sharma, Minister for Employment, confirmed the figures in a written response to a question in parliament. He added that "any claimant in financial difficulty as a result of the level of deductions can contact the DWP to request a reduction."
BTC says: This issue is more complex than it appears and has been much researched and discussed long and hard by our trainers and advisers. To add your experience to our debate and keep informed of other current UC issues, why not book onto one of our next Universal Credit in Practice courses?
Guidance on changes to Free School Meals
Links to other selected new guidance and bulletins from the DWP :
FUNERAL PAYMENT SCHEME CHANGES
Helpful changes from 2 April ADM 7/18
WHP FOR LONG TERM UNEMPLOYED
Guidance on referral to Work & Health Programme for those still out of work after 24 months. DMG 6/2018
ESA (Incapacity Benefit) ARREARS
Dates for underpaid ESA arrears payments for former IB claimants
HOUSING BENEFIT RENT REBATE
Rent rebate and subsidy claims guidance to LAs. HB S8/2018
LA FUNDING ALLOCATIONS
Circular on funding for New Burdens payments, implementation of welfare reform and single fraud investigation, HB S5/2018
NEW CLAIMS IN SHORT TERM SPECIFIED ACCOMMODATION
Guidance to LAs on assessing new claimants in short-term specified accommodation. HB A4/2018
CHANGES TO SOCIAL SECURITY LEGISLATION
Guidance to LAs on miscellaneous amendments to Social Security legislation
UNIVERSAL CREDIT AMENDMENTS
Guidance to LAs on temporary accommodation and the 2-week transition to Universal Credit payments. HB A2/2018
The government has published guidance on how schools, local authorities and advice organisations should support those affected by the changes to Free School Meal funding.
The changes, which came into effect on 1st April, mainly affect households with earnings of over £7,400 per annum who also claim Universal Credit.
UC rollout revisions 2018
There are have been more revisions to some UC rollout dates this year to reflect 'local considerations'.
The revised schedule for more than 20 local areas between October and December 2018 includes some parts of North/West Wales, Walsall, Middlesborough, Barrow in Furness, Newport (IoW), Clydebank and Edinburgh.
Benefits uprating 2018-2019
The latest benefits uprating and social security contribution rates have been published with guidance (DMG 4/18).
Benefits rates were frozen from 2015-2020 by former Chancellor George Osborne, in spite of rises in inflation. However, pensions and disability benefits are exempt from the freeze so there are changes to these.
To learn more about the hows and whys of benefit rates and calculations, why not think about booking onto our new Calculating Benefits & Tax Credits course, our Calculating Universal Credit course - or both (at a discounted rate). We even provide laptops and QBC software for you to practice your calculations on the day.
NEW CASE LAW
Quick links to recent benefits-related case law (most recent at the top).
Is 'engaging socially' the same as 'developing/maintaining friendships'?
Published 4th April 2018
Does precautionary need for incontinence pads at night satisfy descriptor 5b?
Published 22nd March 2018
Should full list of descriptors be included in appeal decisions?
Published 27th February 2018
Is ability to communicate with others defined by the object of communication?
Published 27th February 2018
How informal family bank account arrangements may affect claims
Published 22nd February 2018
Does polygamous marriage invalidate bereavement benefit?
Published 12th March 2018
Tribunals cannot disapply or ignore bedroom tax regulations
Published 20th March 2018
Does Benefit Cap discriminate against lone parents with children under two?
Published 15th March 2018
Child Benefit (EEA)
Evidence of NI number application needed for Child Benefit
Published 23rd February 2018
Surplus earnings and self employed losses in UC
This month, the surplus earnings rule starts to come into force, affecting the way income is assessed in Universal Credit.
Accompanying guidance explains how the new rules will allow for fluctuating earnings, so that surplus earnings and losses from the past six months are included in the assessment and self employed people are not 'unduly penalised or unfairly rewarded' over others.