Universal Credit news

You can find the latest news about Universal Credit on this page.

DWP respond to Freedom of Information request about Universal Credit and corporate appointees

(added 26 September 2019)

APAD members holding corporate appointeeships for clients have reported on several occasions that operators on the Universal Credit helpline have refused to deal with them or restricted the information they are prepared to give.

We are also aware that some clients have been able to contact the helpline and make changes to their account despite the appointeeship.

DWP have confirmed in response to a FOI request that:

  • all UC accounts with a corporate account will have this information flagged and the flag is visible to all DWP agents viewing the account
  • corporate appointees are treated as the claimant in all interactions; that is information should be given in the same way as it would be to a claimant who has capacity, with no restrictions
  • if a client with a corporate appointee contacts the helpline, they will be referred to their appointee and no action will be taken.

However it seems that this, which is correct practice, is not followed in some instances. Please let us know of any problems dealing with Universal Credit staff so that it can be raised with the operational stakeholder engagement forum, or at a higher level if appropriate.

See the full request and response here.

Compensation for loss of the severe disability premium announced

(added 2 August 2019)

The Government has now provided for compensation for those claimants who lost money because they migrated to Universal Credit. The compensation will be paid as a monthly amount plus a lump sum to cover any arrears.

Apparently the monthly payment will be paid “alongside” the normal UC payment and will not be shown on the payment statement. We do not yet know if these payments will be made with a National Insurance number reference. Please let us know if you receive a payment whether or not it was made with a NINO.

The amounts still do not completely cover the loss of the whole of the severe disability and enhanced disability premiums. And there are some disappointing restrictions:

  • Those who were entitled to a severe disability premium (SDP) only via Housing Benefit will not receive any compensation at all
  • Those who stopped meeting the conditions for the severe disability premium at any point after they migrated to UC will not receive any compensation at all.

The monthly amounts are:

  1. Single claimant and limited capability for work-related activity (LCWRA) element is included in the award                                                                       £120
  2. Single claimant and LCWRA element is not included in the award          £285
  3. Joint claimants where an SDP was payable in respect of both members and no person has since become a carer for either of them                                £405
  4. Joint claimants where (3) does not apply and the LCWRA element is included in the award in respect of either of them                                                        £120
  5. Joint claimants where (3) does not apply and the LCWRA element is not included in the award in respect of either of them                                       £285

Mixed age couples and pension age benefits – time is running out for backdated claims

(added 19 July 2019)

A mixed age couple is one where one partner is over and one is under state pension age. From 15 May 2019 most mixed age couples cannot claim Pension Credit or pension age Housing Benefit and may have to claim Universal Credit. Pension age benefits are significantly more generous than working age benefits, and particularly so for Universal Credit.

But – a couple who would have been entitled to  Pension Credit or pension age Housing Benefit before 15 May can still make a claim for either or both because the rules allow the claim to be backdated for up to 3 months.

For this to work the claim must be made by 13 August at the latest so that it can be backdated to 14 May.

From 14 August it will be too late to make a claim and get it backdated to before the mixed age couple rules came into effect.

There is more information about mixed age couples here.

Getting UC payments with NINOs

(Added 11 April 2019)

Members have reported that they are still getting some payments of Universal Credit without a National Insurance Number as reference. This has been causing problems trying to track which payment is for which client.

DWP have confirmed that this may still be happening with older (pre February 2019) claims. Their advice where this is happening is:

“As of February 2019, any new claims should have their references pinned to their national insurance number. This is only for claimants who are under Corporate Appointeeship or Deputyship and this should be identified with a banner on top of the online profile. To backdate any other claimants and change their reference, Universal Credit need a list of the service users, so they can add the banner and change the reference. If for some reason this has not happened, please ring Universal Credit and quote “The Corporate appointee ALP (Agent Led Process) and To Do has not been put in place”.

This has been confirmed by the Stakeholders group. Phone calls to the UC helpline can take some time so we think it is worth trying a Journal entry to the case manager in each case quoting the above and asking them to take this action.

If you continue to have problems with payment references please let us know through the feedback form or the forum.

“Mixed age” couples and Universal Credit

DWP have started to send letters to mixed age couples ahead of the change from 15 May. DWP have produced a factsheet.

At the moment ‘mixed age’ couples, where one person is State Pension age and the other person is younger than that, can choose whether to claim Pension Credit or Universal Credit. Usually, Pension Credit is more generous.

The new regulations provide that from 15 May 2019 this will change for new claimants. To be entitled to Pension Credit, both adults will have to be of State Pension age. Otherwise they will have to claim Universal Credit.

The regulations also provide that mixed age couples who are already in receipt of Pension Credit or pension-age Housing Benefit at the point of change will be unaffected while they remain entitled to either benefit.

The Severe Disability Premium (SDP) Gateway

New regulations mean that from 16 January 2019 an “SDP entitled person” cannot make a new claim for Universal Credit (UC) even if they have a change of circumstances which would otherwise have meant a UC claim.

This means they can make a new claim for a legacy benefit.

An “SDP entitled person”

This means a person who:

  • gets a legacy benefit which includes the severe disability premium; or
  • the legacy benefit ended in the previous month and they continue to satisfy the conditions for the premium

It includes couples where both are entitled to the premium.

Who is entitled to a severe disability premium?

The severe disability premium is an additional amount of £64.30 included in legacy benefits where certain conditions are satisfied. These are:

  1. The claimant gets either:
    1. The daily living component of Personal Independence Payment at either rate; or
    2. the middle or higher rate of the Disability Living Allowance care component; or
    3. Attendance Allowance
      NB Some other less common benefits are qualifying benefits – seek advice.
  2. They live alone. This means there are no non-dependants aged 18 or over normally residing with them
  3. No one gets Carer’s Allowance for caring for them (seek advice about this)

Legacy benefits

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit

 Compensation for those already on Universal Credit who have lost the premium

The severe disability premium is not replicated in UC. Some people who migrated to UC before 16 January have therefore lost money. There is a proposal in further regulations (which have not yet come into force) to partially compensate these people.

This may change before it becomes law – check back for more news as it becomes available.

Further delay to managed migration

Managed migration is the DWP term for the process of telling people on legacy benefits that they have to claim Universal Credit. The start of this has been delayed many times.

The government now propose a pilot to “support 10,000 people through the process” from July 2019. Once 10,000 UC awards have been made there will be a halt while DWP looks at what they have learned from the pilot.

At this point no there is no information about how the 10,000 will be chosen for the pilot. Check the website for further updates.

The timescale for the start of full managed migration keeps changing. It is currently due to start some time in 2020 and finish at the latest by 2024.