ONGOING NEWS

Read the latest social welfare news from around the UK.

Neil Arnott - 06/04/2021
Free E mail copy- Ensure you get the fnalised Benefts Rate Poster for  2021- 2021 (due in mid April 2021) by checking you are subscribed to our free newsletter click here.  Free colour hard copy(s)- (to be sent in late April). Just send an A4 SAE with postage for a large envelope to us at: April 2021- September 2021 Beneft Rates Poster Social Welfare Training Limited 60 Strathmore Road, Horfeld,...
Neil Arnott - 06/04/2021
80 new temporary job centres have been announced to cope with increased workloads during the pandemic- here's the list. of new jobcentre sites. There are currently 639 job centres in the country. There will also be 13,500 new work coaches.
Neil Arnott - 06/04/2021
The Government has confirmed- Face-to-face assessments for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) claimants in England will resume from 12 April 2021. Face-to-face assessments for Work Capability Assessments (WCAs) (for claims for the additional health amount of Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP), will resume from May. Initially...
Neil Arnott - 06/04/2021
Government Statistics tell us numbers on benefits.  
Neil Arnott - 11/03/2021
Universal Credit Statistics from the DWP(to 14/1/2021) tell us- Numbers on UC have doubled since the start of the pandemic(mainly due to a        The amounts being paid to households- the median is £690 per month, but the most common is £300- £400 per month. The percentage of households receiving elements- the most common element is the housing element andnextarethe child element and limited...
Neil Arnott - 11/03/2021
Universal Credit Benefit sanctions statistics from the DWP tell us- Numbers having sanction deductions from their UC- pre pandemic- 2%, now 0.13%.  
Neil Arnott - 11/03/2021
An academic study researchers at Newcastle University is said to be the first systematic review on the effects of Welfare Reforms on mental health. Effects of social security policy reforms on mental health and inequalities: A systematic review of observational studies The conclusion states- 'We found that, on balance – based on thirty-eight observational studies in eight countries - policies...
Neil Arnott - 11/03/2021
Please click on the links for a couple of updated handy guides- Discretionary Housing Payments Guidance Manual- provides guidance and advice on good practices that should be considered when payment of a DHP is being considered. DWP-new rules for UK Benefits and the EU?- a guide to this complex area.
Neil Arnott - 01/03/2021
The DWP has said- ' DWP is writing to all customers who currently receive their State Pension or benefit payments into a Post Office card account (POca). The letter informs them the POca service is closing and asks them to provide alternative account details...For anyone who is unable to open a different type of account or provide new account details, a payment exception service will be available...
Neil Arnott - 02/02/2021
The government has said- '...From 18 January: Jobcentres will be open from 10am to 2pm to help keep our colleagues and customers as safe stay as possible in the latest phase of this pandemic...Jobcentres will remain open, as they have throughout this pandemic, to provide essential services and support to those who we cannot help in any other way...Work Coaches will be empowered to support...
Neil Arnott - 02/02/2021
As explained in our January 2021 newsletter, the SDP gateway ended on 27/1/2021. As a result, you are going to see more vulnerable clients with the SDP moving onto UC in the coming months. It will be important to check that they do receive transitional protection in the form of an extra element as part of their UC. Here's the new law and the explanatory memo. Here's the DWP guidance. Main...
Neil Arnott - 02/02/2021
Latest Government Statistics show- Most MR's revised in favour of client   Repeat Work Capability Assessments(WCAs) fell by 56% and initials by 71% Most end up in Support Group
Neil Arnott - 02/02/2021
The government has said- 'The Department has been automatically applying extension of awards of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and have issued around 756,000 notifications to date. We still have c850,000 notifications to issue and remaining customers will be notified of their new award end date early 2021, the planned completion date for all extension activity.' Book now for our updated...
Neil Arnott - 02/02/2021
As explained in our November 2020 newsletter, a Court of Appeal judgement has been implemented by a new law. The government has now said- 'We expect to automate identification of affected claimants early in 2021. This will allow us to proactively correct awards before they are paid, without the need for the claimant to raise the issue...general information was made available via the Understanding...
Neil Arnott - 06/01/2021
From 27/1/2021, regulations(regulation 7) come into force to remove the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) Gateway. From this date, no new Housing Benefit, Income Support, ESA(IR) or JSA(IB) claims may be taken for claimants in receipt of SDP. These claimants will now be allowed to claim Universal Credit (UC) and considered for the new Transitional Element. Housing Benefit guidance A11/2020 gives a...
Neil Arnott - 06/01/2021
Interesting data for 2020 has been published by The UK-wide Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN).
Neil Arnott - 06/01/2021
The DWP has said- 'Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is available from the first day of absence to individuals who are unable to work because they have been advised to shield, for example where they can’t work from home...If someone is clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV), they should not work outside the home while shielding is in place. If they cannot work from home, they should speak to their employer...
Neil Arnott - 06/01/2021
SUBSCRIBE If you havn't already, subscribe to this newsletter (and receive a new updated 2021/22 free benefits poster in the New Year(will be sent later January 2021). click here Book now for our updated Introduction to Benefits 2021 course.
Neil Arnott - 06/01/2021
Remember, Membership is free for 1 year if you attend one of our online courses. It supports learning post course. This includes- Universal Credit Calculator At a Glance Guides and many other resources Consultancy Forum Ongoing news
Neil Arnott - 06/01/2021
The government has issued some very detailed guidance about the status of EU citizens and Benefits post Brexit. 'The Government has committed to ending free movement to the UK and introducing a new points-based immigration system. This means that there will no longer be separate arrangements for EEA citizens. Instead, there will be one new points-based immigration system...four new purposes...' '...
Neil Arnott - 10/12/2020
The government have released information on job centre services from 3/12/2020 onwards- 'Local Restriction Tier 3 (Very High):(only) All face-to-face assessments will be suspended, except for vulnerable customers who will still be able to attend jobcentres for urgent support. Local Restriction Tier 1 (Medium) and Tier 2 (High) and Tier 3 (Very High): Work Coaches will be empowered to support...
Neil Arnott - 10/12/2020
The government have said that from April 2021- [working age- increased just with infation] 'benefts will be increased in line with CPI - which was 0.5% in the relevant reference period. This includes working- age benefts, benefts to help with additional needs arising from disability, carers’ benefts, pensioner premiums in income-related benefts, Statutory Payments, and Additional State Pension...
Neil Arnott - 10/12/2020
Remember, Membership is free for 1 year if you attend one of our online courses. It supports learning post course. This includes- Universal Credit Calculator At a Glance Guides and other resources Consultancy Forum Ongoing news Benefit Rates Posters
Neil Arnott - 10/12/2020
The government say- 'Attendance Allowance (AA) review processes are reverting to previous arrangements, after changes were made in response to COVID-19. The first customers to be affected will be those whose AA awards expire on or after 8 March 2021. These customers will receive renewal packs in the coming weeks and will have the normal 20 week period to complete and return their packs prior to...
Neil Arnott - 01/12/2020
The government say-'There are currently no plans to change the benefit cap grace period.' [on the Benefit Cap Grace Period for UC]' Universal Credit claimants may benefit from a nine-month grace period where their benefit will not be capped if they have a sustained work record with monthly earnings of at least £604 for the past year. ' 'As at August 2020, there were 160,300 Universal Credit...
Neil Arnott - 10/11/2020
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme- extension-Furlough(employed)- extended until 31/3/2021(replacing the planned Job Support Scheme). For claim periods running to January 2021, employees will receive 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. The £2,500 cap is proportional to the hours not worked. Employers can claim for employees who were employed and on...
Neil Arnott - 10/11/2020
Clients getting paid monthly sometimes get paid twice in one assessment period due to their employer paying slightly early due to non 'banking day'.  From 16 November a new law (changing regulation 61 of the UC regulations 2013) comes into force affecting the way monthly earnings are treated for Universal Credit calculations.  Paragraph 6 allows for a reallocation of a calendar monthly payment of...
Neil Arnott - 10/11/2020
Some clients, who are jointly liable for UC housing costs have problems when a joint tenant leaves. The DWP might not treat the remaining tenant as liable for the absent tenant's share of rent liability even though they are paying the rent in full(an untidy tenancy). The law allows clients to be treated as liable where it is reasonable to do so.  The National Housing Federation state that the DWP...
Neil Arnott - 06/10/2020
The government has announced a replacement for the Furlough scheme. It essentially shifts the burden of support more on the employer instead of the government, maintaining most of the employees income(at least 77% of normal).   The scheme will be open from 1 November 2020 to the end of April 202.1 The employee must be working at least 33% of their usual hours. For the time worked, employees must...
Neil Arnott - 06/10/2020
From 21/9/2020 the courts have started to process evictions again.  The government say- 'We also introduced a stay on possession proceedings to ensure no one needed to be concerned about the threat of eviction over the summer. Now that courts are hearing possession hearings again, in addition to steps led by the Judiciary to prioritise the most serious cases, the Government has increased notice...
Neil Arnott - 06/10/2020
A welcome change has occurred for clients who fail their Work Capability Assessment and have no benefit up to the date of the MR. They can now lodge their appeal directly and if they send in ft for work notes, will be able to access ESA pending an appeal immediately without having to go for MR.   The government has issued guidance ( and here)after a High Court decision in July 2020 (Connor, R (On...
Neil Arnott - 06/10/2020
The Trussell Trust has published a report that finds Food bank Use has grown by 81% under the Pandemic. 'As Covid-19 hit the UK, the Trussell Trust saw an immediate and sustained surge in need across its food banks. In April there was an 89% increase in the number of emergency food parcels given out compared with the same month in 2019. This included a 107% increase in the number of parcels given...
Neil Arnott - 01/10/2020
Many of you have explained how some of your clients were wrongly advised by DWP/ job centre staff to move from Tax Credits to UC, and subsequently find that they are worse off. Initially the government signalled that they may try to redress this situation but this approach has now been reversed. The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Dr Thérèse Coffey has confirmed that there will be no...
Neil Arnott - 03/09/2020
The amount employers can claim from the furlough scheme will drop from 80% to 70% in September and down to 60% in October. The scheme is due to finish at the end of October. Redundancies are predicted and clients will have to consider claiming benefits. Over 9 million workers have been furloughed since March.  A summary of changes to the scheme is given below.    The government has said that...
Neil Arnott - 03/09/2020
Government statistics tell us At May 2020 150,000 households had their benefits capped in GB: 30,000 had HB capped  120,000 had UC capped.     This topic is covered in our Housing Costs and Universal Credit 2020 course.  
Neil Arnott - 03/09/2020
DHP statistics tell us- The DHP amounts given to Local Authorities in 2019/20 was around £118 million, almost all of which is spent.  41% of Local Authorities spent more than their central government allocation of Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) funding, which means they topped up their allocation with their own funding(they can do this by up to 1.5 x their original government allocation).  ...
Neil Arnott - 03/09/2020
From 26/8/2020,   a new law adds an extra category of client who will get Statutory Sick Pay(SSP) for up to 14 days where all 3 conditions are met-   have been notified that they are to undergo a surgical or other hospital procedure; have been advised to stay at home for a period of up to 14 days prior to being admitted to hospital for that procedure; and stay at home pursuant to that advice.  ...
Neil Arnott - 04/08/2020
Until 1/8/2020, free TV licences were a Universal Benefit to which all those aged over 75 were entitled. The BBC has confirmed that from that date around 5 million people in the UK over the age of 75 are losing their automatic right to a free TV licence and many will have to pay £157.50 a year.   A key exception is those aged over 75 who get Pension Credit (wither guarantee credit or savings...
Neil Arnott - 04/08/2020
A very welcome run on of legacy benefits for two weeks after natural migration to Universal Credit applies from 22/7/2020. The DWP say- 'This means if someone’s existing claim of income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Income Support ends due to them applying for Universal Credit they will now receive a new, additional payment, worth up...
Neil Arnott - 04/08/2020
Prison Leavers – UC Overview The government has published handy tips for those supporting clients with Universal Credit before/ during and after being in prison. These include- 'Going into prison: Prisoners serving 13 weeks or less are able to continue to claim Housing Beneft through the local authority. Those held in custody on remand are entitled to Housing Beneft for up to 52 weeks. Before...
Neil Arnott - 04/08/2020
Not being married or in a civil partnership is usually a bar on claiming Bereavement Benefts. In response to a test case the government lost, that should be about to change. The government say 'It is our intention to take forward a Remedial Order to remove the incompatibilities from the legislation governing Widowed Parent’s Allowance and Bereavement Support Payment by extending these benefts to...
Neil Arnott - 02/07/2020
Open courses- we currently have 9 different open courses on offer We are planning to continue to offer online training from September onwards. Feedback has been positive from you in terms of learning outcomes, course materials provided, group work and zero travelling times/ expenses. We will keep you updated with any new course dates. In house Courses We are also providing lots of in house...
Neil Arnott - 02/07/2020
Official Personal Independence Payments(PIP) Statistics tell us there has been a worrying decline in initial claims for benefit and also in challenges to decisions-  'Figures for March and April 2020 reflect the initial period of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has impacted the activity of claimants and led to operational emergency procedures to process the claims in order to reduce the risk to...
Neil Arnott - 02/07/2020
Other guidance gives advice on these payments affect JSA/ESA. Memo ADM 8/20 'Impact on JSA- 10. For the purposes of JSA recipients of payments from the CJRS are considered to be engaged in remunerative work and are not entitled to JSA with the exception of those recipients whose weekly pre-covid contracted hours were fewer than 16.' The situation is similar with the SEISS payments. 'THE IMPACT ON...
Neil Arnott - 02/07/2020
The government has issued guidance on how the furlough scheme and self employment equivalent are treated as income for Universal Credit Memo ADM 10/20 and Memo ADM 11/20 'CJRS and SEISS payments are treated as earnings in the normal way. Each SEISS payment will be treated as self- employed earnings in the AP in which they are received' 'Example 1 – Employee receiving CJRS payments. A claim for UC...
Neil Arnott - 02/07/2020
From 1/8/2020, the government has announced its intention to remove SSP for those who have been told to shield because they are 'clinically extremely vulnerable'. Advice to shield will be paused from 1/8/2020. Over 2 million people have been advised to shield. We have amended our guide to reflect the intended govt change - Covid-19- Coronavirus Briefng1 Benefit Changes Book now for our courses-...
Neil Arnott - 02/07/2020
How many claimants are there on UC? (govt. Stats up to 14/5/2020) There was a large rise from April to May 2020- numbers on UC rose from 4.2million to 5.2 million.  
Neil Arnott - 01/06/2020
Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme (CJRS)- This scheme has been extended to October 2020, however there are going to be some changes to the rules and the amount of funding that will be available.   From 1st August 2020 employers will need to make a contribution towards the funding of the scheme. This is to have a tapered introduction with the Government to continue to cover 80% of the furloughed...
Neil Arnott - 01/06/2020
Self employed people expecting a SEISS taxable grant will have their UC affected when it is paid. Should they reclaim the following assessment period to remove surplus earnings? Normally yes, but the Government has made this easier making provision for treating claimants as re-claiming benefit for up to fve assessment periods. Claimants won't need to reclaim.   Book now for our NEW Covid-19...
Neil Arnott - 01/06/2020
Government statistics tell us that the there continues to be unprecedented numbers(x6) of Universal Credit claims. Table 2: Number of households making a Universal Credit declaration Totals by time period, 1 March 2020 - 19 May  2020  Month April 2020 March 2020  Week 11/05/20 04/05/20 27/04/20 20/04/20 13/04/20 06/04/20 30/03/20 23/03/20 16/03/20 09/03/20 02/03/20  01 March 2020 - 892,970 1,074,...
Neil Arnott - 01/06/2020
The Government say re PIP awards due to end- 'There was an issue for those on fixed-term, short awards, but we have now addressed that, and those claimants will continue to get an automatic six months’ extension if it is due in the next three months.' and this should also apply to awards given at a tribunal. Book now for our updated Benefits and Mental Health 2020 online course.
Neil Arnott - 01/06/2020
There is a New FP10 NHS prescription form, which includes a tick box for UC claimants who meet the criteria for free prescriptions.  Claimants above certain UC earnings thresholds will not be entitled- the lower threshold is £435 per month for those who do not have a child and/or limited capability for work (or limited capability for work related activity) element. The higher threshold is £935...
Neil Arnott - 04/05/2020
The government has indicated-   Clients will have to show 'good reason' for not attending a telephone medicals- 'i) Claimants may have their claim disallowed if they fail to attend or participate in their telephony assessment, however we are taking a number of steps to ensure that no individuals are unfairly penalised. Claimants who fail to attend or participate in a telephony assessment will...
Neil Arnott - 04/05/2020
The government has said- '...DWP took the decision to temporarily suspend both the requirement to attend a face to face appointments and to conduct checks on conditionality compliance with work search for 3 months from 19th March 2020. This means no sanctions will be applied for these reasons for the 3 month period'. Book now for our updated Introduction to Welfare Benefits 2020 online course....
Neil Arnott - 04/05/2020
The government has said- 'Universal Credit claimants can now access British Sign Language interpreters as part of a free video relay service...DWP staff won’t see the caller or the interpreter; but will receive a phone call from the interpreter who will translate into BSL. There is no need to book the service in advance which allows the conversation to take place in real time...Customers will be...
Neil Arnott - 04/05/2020
ESA(c) new style can now be claimed online. Click here. Book Now for our COVID-19 Benefit Updater 2020 online course.
Neil Arnott - 04/05/2020
  Self Employed Income Support Scheme(SEISS)- The government has confirmed- From4/5/2020, the government will begin contacting possible eligible clients. In the meantime, they can check online to see if they might qualify and if yes, from when they can submit their online claim. Will have the money paid into their bank account by25/6 or within 6 working days .  3rd party deductions- (the...
Neil Arnott - 20/04/2020
Click below for our latest Briefing on Benefit change. Covid-19- Coronavirus Briefing3 Government Income Replacement Schemes
Neil Arnott - 03/04/2020
Free E mail copy- Ensure you get the fnalised Benefts Rate Poster for 2020/ 2021 (due in mid April 2020) by checking you are subscribed to our free newsletter click here.  Free colour hard copy(s)- (to be sent in late April).  Just send an A4 SAE with postage for a large envelope to us at:  2020/2021 Beneft Rates Poster Social Welfare Training Limited 60 Strathmore Road, Horfeld, Bristol BS7 9QJ...
Neil Arnott - 03/04/2020
There will be extra increases in the Universal Credit monthly Standard Allowances (for 1 year only) from April 2020 for clients on UC- single under 25 - £342.72(£256.05) single 25 and above - £409.89(£323.22) couple under 25 - £488.59(£401.92) Couple 25 and above - £594.04(£507.37) In Working Tax Credit a similar increase takes place(for 1 year only). Instead of the planned Basic element of £1995...
Neil Arnott - 03/04/2020
Claimants on HB or UC in the private rented sector will see increases in their Local Housing Allowances from April 2020. For most they will get more beneft. One exception might be where the client is affected by the Beneft Cap. Click here to view your Local Authority. The frst two tables give the 2019/20 rates and the increased 2020/2021. This is a return to LHA's being set at the 30 percentile...
Neil Arnott - 03/04/2020
Click here to see what the Tribunals Service is saying about appeals during the outbreak. They are looking to use telephone and video(skype) hearings- 'In considering the suitability of video/audio, judges will consider issues such as the nature of the matters at stake during the hearing; any issues the use of video/audio technology may present for participants in the hearing, having regard to...
Neil Arnott - 03/04/2020
The Government says 'We are automatically extending all awards and reassessments for health and disability benefts to provide that reassurance to those in receipt of them...there will be no new reviews or reassessments across all benefts for three months – this includes Universal Credit (UC), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disability Living Allowance...
Neil Arnott - 03/04/2020
client has 80% furlough payment confrmed, can he volunteer without it affecting his payments? Client has had his 80% furlough payment confrmed via email, which he is relieved about, he has various conditions and disabilities such as ASD, he now wants to volunteer for a local scheme helping vulnerable people at this time, but he is concerned that it might upset his payment, i assume it wont , as...
Neil Arnott - 27/03/2020
Benefits are changing quickly with the Covid- 19 Coronavirus outbreak. It's difficult to keep up to date. Please click on the links below to access two briefings to help you advise your clients.  We aim to keep these updated. Social Welfare Training Covid-19 Coronavirus Briefing 1 At a Glance Guide To Benefit Changes  Social Welfare Training Covid-19 Coronavirus Briefing 2 Loss of Income   We...
Neil Arnott - 14/03/2020
Following the Government’s current advice concerning covid-19/ coronavirus,  we have postponed scheduled courses until at least September 2020.  We will be in touch with those of you who have booked pre course to confim this and offer credit notes.  We will monitor the situation as it progresses.     COVID-19 UPDATE Following on from recent government guidance on COVID-19 (Coronavirus), we are...
Neil Arnott - 12/03/2020
click to access our At a glance Guide to Benefit changes in the Spring Budget 2020
Neil Arnott - 03/03/2020
Give your clients a clear idea of how much Universal Credit they should be due in any assessment period.   Friendly 'visual' format. Prompts to help you build expertise. Updated by us over time as Law and practise changes. Print screen option. Access our UC calculator designed to aid you to learn and advise on the calculation. Either book below or join our members' area.   Book now - An Overview...
Neil Arnott - 03/03/2020
Advance Payment Extension of Repay Period- 'To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will take steps to bring forward to date to extend the repaymentperiodforuniversalcreditadvancesto16monthsfromOctober2021.(NO)  ‘The Department has announced that from October 2021, the repayment period for these advances will be extended further to 16 months. There are no plans to introduce...
Neil Arnott - 03/03/2020
Following a claim, once an individual has signed their commitment agreement and had their identity verified among other criteria, clients are deemed to have started on Universal Credit.  The latest Universal Credit statistics(to January 2020) tell us that-  Numbers on UC- In January 2.8 million people, up 100,000 (2%) from 12 December 2019, were on UC. Work- of these only 1/3 were doing some...
Neil Arnott - 03/03/2020
Size of Case Mangers Caseload- 'The latest published Caseload position for UC stands at 2,084,952 cases (August 2019 fgure), at which point there were 4,508 Case Managers deployed within Universal Credit Service Centres supporting UC claimants, with each Case Manager on average handling 463 cases.'  And Work Coaches and Decision Makers 'In December 2019 we had ...12,711 Work Coaches and 1048 UC...
Neil Arnott - 03/03/2020
The cost to the public purse of legal challenges to her Department's policy to remove (a) severe disability premium and (b) enhanced disability premium payments from claimants transferring to Universal Credit has been revealed. The government say'...As at 13 February 2020, the Department has spent £215,846.89 on legal costs defending and appealing the cases in relation to people formerly in...
Neil Arnott - 12/02/2020
click here to access the free Welfare Benefit Rates poster 2020 2021 (applicable from April 2020).
Neil Arnott - 07/02/2020
Managed migration is when existing claimants of legacy benefits will be invited to claim Universal Credit. It is due to take place from 2020- 2024. It has the advantage that transitional protection payments will be paid to claimants who lose out. A pilot in Harrogate of (eventually) 10,000 claimants is currently taking place. The government has said- 'The numbers are relatively small at the...
Neil Arnott - 07/02/2020
A claimant can qualify for free prescription/ health costs if on the date they claim help with health costs: a) they receive Universal Credit and either had no earnings or had net earnings of £435 or less in their last Universal Credit assessment period Or b) they receive Universal Credit, which includes an element for a child, or they (or their partner) had limited capability for work (LCW)...
Neil Arnott - 07/02/2020
Bereavement Support Payments(BSP) is only available at the moment if partners were in a civil partnership or marriage. The government is considering extending this to cohabiting partners. A report says that this would help' 15,000 claimants to access the benefit and cost £50 million per year. The Judicial Case in January 2020, of Jackson vs the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, seeks a...
Neil Arnott - 07/02/2020
Private sector rents are rarely affordable for claimants of either Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. Local Housing Allowance(LHA) rates have been frozen for four years since April 2016. This is set to change from April 2020. The government has said- 'I am announcing that from April 2020 Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates will be increased in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI), ending...
Neil Arnott - 07/01/2020
Ensure you get the next Benefit Rates Poster for 2020/2021 by checking you are subscribed to our free newsletter click here. All subscribers will be sent the new poster automatically free of charge by email(due in mid January 2020). Book now for our updated Introduction to Welfare Benefit 2020 course.
Neil Arnott - 07/01/2020
Many benefit rates have been frozen for the last 4 years. This has been the biggest single cut in Benefits. From April 2020 this will change The general principle of increasing Benefits each year with inflation with be restored. The government has said- ● 'The basic and new State Pensions will be increased by the Government’s ‘triple lock’ commitment, meaning that they will be up-rated in line...
Neil Arnott - 07/01/2020
We don't have much detail on the government plans for Benefits at present. Certainly, a large scale reversal of cuts is not planned. It's mostly more of the same. In their manifesto they said- ● ' older people- keep the triple lock on the state pension ● keep the winter fuel payment ● keep the older person's bus pass ● Proceed with the planned charge for tv licences for those over 75 ●...
Neil Arnott - 07/01/2020
Inside Housing have reported an announcement by Neil Couling, senior responsible owner for Universal Credit at the DWP – He wrote: 'One of the key things landlords have told us is that receiving your payment at the same time  your tenant receives theirs, and being able to access a schedule of payments on the landlord portal, would greatly improve your ability to mange payments and reconcile UC...
Neil Arnott - 04/12/2019
The Labour Party manifesto gives details on proposed benefit changes- 'Benefits culture- 'replacing the DWP on day one with a Department for Social Security, which will be there to help and support people, not punish and police them.' Universal Credit- 'scrap Universal Credit...immediately stop moving people onto it and design an alternative system that treats people with dignity and respect......
Neil Arnott - 04/12/2019
A TUC report has found that child poverty in working families is up almost 40 per cent since 2010. 'The number of children growing up in poverty in working households has risen by 800,000 since 2010...The analysis reveals that child poverty in working families rose to 2.9 million in 2018 – an increase of 38% since the start of the decade. In 2010, 1 in 5 (19%) children in working households...
Neil Arnott - 04/12/2019
The Trussell Trust has produced a report called The State of Hunger. It found- 'low benefit rates and sudden drops in benefit income feature very prominently ... these drops or gaps in income are frequently designed into the benefit system: the five week wait for the first UC payment, benefit sanctions, changes to eligibility for health-related benefits, the benefit cap, ‘bedroom tax’ and,...
Neil Arnott - 04/12/2019
DWP guidance has been issued on the law change from 27/11/2019 that sees the maximum length of a sanction reduced from 156 weeks to 26 weeks for new and existing UC and JSA sanctions. Do note that generally the highest level sanction was rare. Latest DWP sanction statistics.
Neil Arnott - 07/11/2019
We would like to share the following information from a DWP partnership manager. It is regarding a problem where a client loses out on Universal Credit because they are paid twice in one assessment period.  This is because the employer may pay the client's monthly pay early for Christmas. Click here for the problem illustrated by pdf.  (Thanks to a Help to Claim Practise Lead at a Citizens...
Neil Arnott - 05/11/2019
Computer access/ helpline/ home visits- the government say - 'All Jobcentres across the country have Wi-Fi and computers available for claimants to access the internet. These devices are being upgraded in a programme due to be completed by the end of October 2019. For those that are still unable to access or use digital services, or are not able to travel, assistance to make and maintain their...
Neil Arnott - 05/11/2019
The maximum amount of deductions that can be taken from a universal credit award has been reduced from 40% to 30 per cent of the standard allowance(except for last resort deductions). Click here for the guidance. 'There is an overall maximum percentage rate for all debts and deductions that can be taken from a Universal Credit payment. The maximum amount that can be deducted is an amount...
Neil Arnott - 05/11/2019
Ask the work coaches at the Job Centre about the Flexible Support Fund and extra payments that might be made for your clients. The government say- 'To assist with the affordability of public transport, and where an appointment at a Jobcentre has been agreed as necessary, Work Coaches are able to consider the reimbursement of a claimant’s travel costs. The Department publishes clear guidance to...
Neil Arnott - 05/11/2019
PIP statistics show only around 15% of mandatory reconsiderations lead to a changed award in favour of the client. On the other hand 75% of PIP appeals (statistics here) are decided in favour of the client!! Claims take between 13-16 weeks to be decided from the date they were received by the DWP. There are 2.2 million claimants on PIP. Book Now for our updated Benefit Appeals 2019 course...
Neil Arnott - 07/10/2019
CLICK HERE for the Citizens Advice form for complex needs.   If your client is identified as having complex needs then the DWP should tailor or turn off their conditionality. This will reduce the risk that the claimant's claim is sanctioned or closed. Identify your client as having complex needs by putting this in their journal and / or use this Citizens Advice form which can be uploaded onto...
Neil Arnott - 07/10/2019
Latest Benefit Tribunal statistics show a further increase in the already high success rate for claimants- 71% had the initial decision revised in favour of the claimant (up from 67% in the same period in 2018). PIP made up over half of appeals heard, a proportion that has been steadily rising over the last year. Other PIP statistics show only around 15% of mandatory reconsiderations lead to a...
Neil Arnott - 07/10/2019
Sight loss- adjustments to be made by DWP staff- 'longer appointments;  tailored support when accessing the internet and completing forms;  home visits for people unable to access the jobcentre; and additional support through the Work and Health and Access to Work programmes'  UC Advance Payment Fraud- Due to problems with fraud particularly over the last year or so,  clients must now have their...
Neil Arnott - 06/10/2019
The BBC has confirmed plans to make over-75s pay the £154.50 a year TV licence fee. Three million households are expected to lose the right to a free licence next June (2020). This Universal Benefit was introduced by the Labour government 20 years ago. The BBC has said it will continue to provide TV licences to over-75s who can provide evidence that they claim Pension Credit. The government say...
Neil Arnott - 11/09/2019
We are offering the following open courses up to Christmas 2019- please click the links. (or  Contact us for in-house training provision).   Universal Credit- The Tricky Parts 2019 Level- Update- intermediate   Benefit Appeals 2019 Level- Update- intermediate   An Overview of Universal Credit 2019 Level- Update- foundation   Benefits for Older People 2019 Level- Update- foundation      ...
Neil Arnott - 11/09/2019
The government has issued guidance for its managed migration pilot in Harrogate. 'Managed migration started in Harrogate as a pilot on 24 July 2019. The pilot is expected to last for up to 18 months. In managed migration cases, claimants entitled to an existing benefit are sent a migration notice requiring them to claim UC by a specified date known as the deadline day (see M7503). The deadline...
Neil Arnott - 11/09/2019
The latest government statistics from July 2019 show that the number of clients on Universal Credit(UC) is rising quickly. Over 100,000 clients became entitled to UC in the month to 11th July. Of these: 760,000 (33%) were in employment 930,000 (41%) were in the Searching for Work conditionality regime 66,000 had more frequent than monthly payments 50 had split payments between partners 210,000 (...
Neil Arnott - 12/08/2019
One of the problems with Universal Credit is that it is paid monthly in arrears. Childcare costs are paid at 85% of fees up to a monthly maxmium of £646.35(1 child)  or £1108.04(2 or more children). Clients often have to pay £100s in childcare costs to their childcare provider up front,  and this disintentivices work and makes it very difficult to budget and pay rent. The government has...
Neil Arnott - 09/08/2019
The government has started to make transitional payments to those claimants who have lost the SDP(severe disability premium)as part of their Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance(but not Housing Benefit), as a result of migrating onto Universal Credit. Schedule 2 of the new regulations lay out the provisions to allow transitional...
Neil Arnott - 09/08/2019
The same regulations referred to above introduce more changes- ● Start of a managed migration pilot of 10,000 claimants in Harrogate(this started from 24 July 2019). click here for more details. On managed migration, there will generally be a 3 month deadline to make a UC claim. A transitional element would be payable where the amount in legacy benefits was more than that due under UC. This...
Neil Arnott - 09/08/2019
The rules around support for mortgage interest(SMI) are here. Generally clients wait 9 months to receive help; typically 2.61% of the outstanding mortgage/ home loan. SMI is paid as a loan. Clients need to repay the money they get with interest when they sell or transfer ownership of their home. This interest is added to the loan and has dropped from 1.5% to 1.3%. Book now for our updated...
Neil Arnott - 09/08/2019
'automatic recommendation that payments are to go to the main carer, we’re making it easier for women to build the financial independence they need to leave their abuser....Currently around 60% of Universal Credit payments go to women within joint claims.” 'Every jobcentre in the UK will have a trained domestic abuse point of contact by the end of summer, Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd...
Neil Arnott - 25/07/2019
The BBC has confirmed plans to make over-75s pay the £154.50 a year TV licence fee.   Three million households are expected to lose right to free licence next June (2020). This  Universal Benefit was introduced by the Labour government 20 years ago.   The BBC has said it will continue to provide TV licences to over-75s who can provide evidence that they claim Pension Credit. The government say 1....
Neil Arnott - 08/07/2019
Clients often struggle to cope on Universal Credit due to the large number of deductions taken from their expected payments. There is scope to ask for the repayment rate to be reduced where it is causing hardship. The government say- 'Universal Credit already has procedures and regulations in place to protect claimants from excessive deductions. The maximum rate of deductions cannot normally...
Neil Arnott - 03/07/2019
The government say 'To be eligible to receive free school meals (FSM), a pupil or their parent must be in receipt of any one of the following listed benefits and must make a claim to the school for FSM: ● Income Support ● Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance ● Income-related Employment and Support Allowance ● Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act (1999) ● The guaranteed...
Neil Arnott - 03/07/2019
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has reported- ● by 2017 8 million people in the UK living in working households were in relative poverty. ● Between 1994 and 2017 there was an increase from 13% to 18% in the proportion of people in working households living in relative poverty (that’s an increase of 40%). They say the rise in in work poverty is due to- ● the big falls in worklessness since...
Neil Arnott - 03/07/2019
The government say 'The Department’s standard method of payment for pensions and benefits is into a bank, building society or credit union account. For claimants who cannot open one of these accounts, or provide the details for their own account to access their payment, the Department can offer two alternatives: The Post Office Card Account and HM Government Payment Exception Service, both of...
Neil Arnott - 03/07/2019
The amount of appeals have been falling over the last few years. Encourage your clients to challenge decisions success rates are high. We've picked out some of the main types by benefit from the latest statistics- year Total receipts AA DLA Tax Credits HB & CTB ESA JSA PIP UC 2009/10 339213 3874 71742 1578 12538 126838 31142 .. .. 2010/11 418476 4171 79448 3030 12285 197363 47010...
Neil Arnott - 03/07/2019
If a client has unexpected financial hardship, then they can defer repayment of an advance they have have. The government say 'The Department recognises that exceptional circumstances may occur to claimants that were not foreseen when a Universal Credit advance was taken out. Should claimants face unexpected financial hardship as a result of such changes, they can ask the Department for a...
Neil Arnott - 03/07/2019
We have some spare stocks this year of our colour 2019/2020 Benefit Rates Poster for Professionals and would like to offer you up to 12 free copies. For free hard copies- Just send an A4 SAE with postage(£1.72 second class/ £1.97 first class) to us at: 2019/2020 Benefit Rates Poster Social Welfare Training Limited 60 Strathmore Road, Horfield, Bristol BS7 9QJ. On the envelope please tell...
Neil Arnott - 18/06/2019
During our recent training, lots of you have been talking about one of the big issues with the Universal Credit system;  that most (57%) of clients do not receive their full amount of Universal Credit because of deductions. The government say 'Deductions include advance repayments and all other deductions, but exclude sanctions and fraud penalties which are reductions of benefit rather than...
Neil Arnott - 05/06/2019
UC Natural/ Managed Migration Figures Revealed- Natural migration onto UC is due to a change of circumstance that prompts a new claim. Managed migration on the other hand is where the government tells clients that it is time to move over anyway. A managed migration pilot is due to start for 10,000 clients over 12 months in the Harrogate area, with the full scale roll out due from 2020- 2024. UC...
Neil Arnott - 05/06/2019
Generally not- Amber Rudd, The Work and Pensions Secretary, has announced 'We will no longer regularly review the PIP awards for claimants who have reached State Pension age, unless they tell us that their needs have changed.'and clients will 'no longer have their awards regularly reviewed, instead moving to a light touch review at 10 years. Nearly 290,000 people of State Pension age are in...
Neil Arnott - 05/06/2019
The vast majority of Benefits are paid correctly. The total yearly DWP Benefit bill averaged for the measured period was £183.5 billion. The government has produced the latest Fraud and Error in the Benefit System 2018/19 Estimates. 2.2%(£4.1 billion) of expenditure was overpaid. Of this 1.2%(£2.3 billion) was paid fraudulently, 0.6% due to (£1.1 billion) paid due to other claimant error and 0....
Neil Arnott - 05/06/2019
Generally, clients need to act in time to challenge decisions by mandatory reconsideration and appeal- within one month(or exceptionally up to 13 months after the decision). Guidance from the DWP has confirmed the right of appeal later than 13 months on official error grounds. The same may apply to late request for a mandatory reconsideration outside the 13 month time limit. Book now for our...
Neil Arnott - 09/05/2019
The government has explained- 'We are currently working with a number of test landlords to design the Apply for Direct Rent Payment service. This research is helping us to understand the activities we need to complete before we are able to introduce this to all landlords. We expect to complete our system testing and refinement work by the Autumn and have this system fully in place by the end of...
Neil Arnott - 09/05/2019
The government has issued guidance to local authorities- '8. It has been brought to DWP’s attention that some Universal Credit (UC) claimants, who we direct to claim HB because they believe they live in specified accommodation, are not being signposted back to UC to claim support with housing costs if the LA subsequently decides that the accommodation does not meet the specified accommodation...
Neil Arnott - 09/05/2019
The DWP has detailed some of the help available for prisoners when they come out of prison and have to negotiate the Universal Credit system- 'The Department is committed to providing personalised support for all claimants. This support extends to those who are in prison, to ensure rehabilitation is as seamless as possible upon release. To facilitate this, the Department has Prison Work Coaches...
Neil Arnott - 09/05/2019
The government is creating a Pensions Dashboard to help with planning retirement- ● 'an expectation that the majority of schemes will be ready to ‘go live’ with their data within a 3 to 4 year window ● confirmation that State Pension information will be included as soon as possible ● dashboards will help to reconnect people with ‘lost’ pension pots, benefitting savers and providers' Book now...
Neil Arnott - 09/05/2019
The number of people on Universal Credit as at March 2019 was 1,837,191. Of these claimants 608,765 were in paid work and 1,228,428 were not working. Alternative payment arrangements- The number of claimants receiving split payments (between partners) was only 9 in February 2019! The number receiving more frequent than monthly payments was also low at 4,188. Book now for our updated An...
Neil Arnott - 09/05/2019
In a tweet on 4/4/2019, Universal Credit Director of Operations John-Paul Marks has confirmed all live service claims have now ceased. This is presumably because either they have been transferred to the full(digital service) or closed. Book now for our updated An Overview of Universal Credit 2019 , new Universal Credit- the tricky parts 2019 courses.
Neil Arnott - 08/04/2019
Conditionality regime Searching for work 778930 Working - with requirements 244080 No work requirements 336642 Working - no requirements 258722 Planning for work 44532 Preparing for work 73475 Unknown or missing regime 49 The number of people on Universal Credit as at February 2019 was 1,736,431. Of these people 660 thousand (34per cent) were in employment. There have been around 100,000...
Neil Arnott - 08/04/2019
If you are not able to work because of sickness and you have paid sufficient national insurance contributions, then it is still possible to claim Employment and Support Allowance. This type of ESA(new style) is generally non means tested( very similar to the ESA contributory that it replaces). Click here to access an online version of the( new style)ESA claim form. Universal Credit might top...
Neil Arnott - 08/04/2019
safeguards in place and support available to assist homeless people in making a claim for Universal Credit include: From 1 April 2019 Citizens Advice (England and Wales) and Citizens Advice Scotland will deliver a new “Help to Claim” service to support vulnerable claimants through the process of making a claim to Universal Credit. If a person doesn’t have a fixed address, they can register...
Neil Arnott - 08/04/2019
How do you challenge a claim that's closed? The government say- 'In the event of a closed claim, claimants can still see their previous journal entries and payment statements in a read-only format. If a claimant opens a new claim, this read-only access will no longer be accessible to the claimant. However, if a claimant, who has had a previous claim closed, needs to access their previous...
Neil Arnott - 08/04/2019
The British Psychological Society has joined eight other leading mental health organisations in calling for the removal of benefit sanctions for people with mental health difficulties. Book now for our Benefits and Mental Health 2019 course.
Neil Arnott - 06/03/2019
The government has said in a written response- 'Over the last year we have introduced new guidance into Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit (UC), as well as updated guidance for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) to improve the service we provide for those with the most severe/lifelong conditions.  For ESA/UC since September 2017 we have switched off routine...
Neil Arnott - 06/03/2019
The government made £billions of cuts to Housing Benefit (which has been passed into Universal Credit housing costs), over the years after 2010. Discretionary Housing Payments try to mitigate some impact of the cuts.  The government has announced that the overall DHP funding for England and Wales in 2019-20 will be £139.5 million. Click on the link to see your council. '...English and Welsh...
Neil Arnott - 06/03/2019
In our Social Welfare Training February newsletter, we explained how mixed aged couples would not be allowed to claim Pension Credit/ the more generous form of Housing Benefit from 15/5/2019, losing often £7,000 per year. As both these benefits can be backdated for 3 months, then in effect couples may be able to make claims under the existing rules on or before 13/8/2019. DWP guidance confirms...
Neil Arnott - 06/03/2019
UCFS Post Canterbury BC, Nutwood House, Chaucer Road, Canterbury, Kent CT1 1ZZ Shared by one of our Universal Credit course participants- '...We are currently sending all MRs to this address which allows for recorded delivery (where freepost does not) and, at risk of tempting fate, responses appear to be relatively expedient. Where the journal remains accessible I have been posting and...
Neil Arnott - 06/03/2019
A letter from Motability confirms that they can use their discretion to allow clients to keep their Motability cars for longer than 6 months whilst they are appealing. Appeals often take longer than this, perhaps up to a year, to be heard. '‘… if a customer has opted for the 26 week retention period, and Motability is satisfied that they are actively progressing an appeal, a discretionary...
Neil Arnott - 06/03/2019
Universal Credit as at 10/1/2019 was 1.6million. Of these people 560 thousand (34per cent) were in employment. There are around 170,000 new claims per month!
Neil Arnott - 06/02/2019
Important- We have been advising of this future change and we finally have a date. From 15/5/2019, mixed-age couples will be excluded from entitlement to Pension Credit. Here's the commencement order and government statement.   At present, and until that date, mixed aged couples can claim the more generous Pension Credit as long as the member of the couple above retirement age makes the claim....
Neil Arnott - 06/02/2019
Important- From 16 January 2019, a new law prevents new claims for claimants entitled to the SDP at the time of claiming or at some time in the month before.  Legacy benefits would be claimed instead.     'No claim may be made for universal credit on or after 16th January 2019 by a single claimant who, or joint claimants either of whom— (a) is, or has been within the past month, entitled to an...
Neil Arnott - 06/02/2019
Important- From 1 February 2019, the government is-   1. removing the UC gateway that prevented claims for Universal Credit where a client has three or more children. And also-  2. not imposing planned restrictions on some claimants where their 3+ children were born pre 6/4/2017. This will allow the payment of child element in new claims to Universal Credit for all children born before 6 April...
Neil Arnott - 06/02/2019
click here for the draft poster 2019/ 2020
Neil Arnott - 06/02/2019
All areas of England and Wales should now be taking new claims for Universal Credit(end of 2018). This is termed natural migration and is prompted by a change of circumstance such that a client needs to (but can no longer) claim a legacy benefit- Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance(IR), Job Seekers Allowance(IB), both Tax Credits and Housing Benefit.   Remember that on the first...
Neil Arnott - 06/02/2019
The government is currently reviewing over a million claims for PIP where it had to backtrack on changes relating to the issue of safety and also the issue of psychological distress.   'around 140,000 cases have been reviewed and cleared around 1,000 payments have been made to qualifying claimants the total amount of additional payments the department has paid out to qualifying claimants is...
Neil Arnott - 06/02/2019
HMRC has written to the Treasury Committee about the risk for households where one parent does not work, due to childcare commitments, while the other parent works and is also the Child Benefit claimant.   Registering for Child Benefit builds up State Pension entitlement for parents of children under 12 who do not already pay National Insurance contributions (e.g. because they decide to stay at...
Neil Arnott - 06/02/2019
'Universal credit claimants have to pay the considerable costs of childcare upfront, and then wait to be reimbursed.   These upfront costs for childcare are not only a disincentive to work: for some universal credit claimants they will either make working unaffordable, or force them to take on debt in order to do so. ' Commons Select Committee
Neil Arnott - 04/01/2019
Ensure you get the next Benefit Rates Poster for 2019/2020 by checking you are subscribed to our free newsletter click here. All subscribers will be sent the new poster automatically free of charge by email(due in mid January 2019).   Book now for our updated Introduction to Welfare Benefits 2019 course.
Neil Arnott - 04/01/2019
Alun Cairns, The Secretary of State for Wales, '...Food banks have a key role to play in bringing back into the state welfare system people who, for a range of reasons, have fallen out of it.'   Book now for our updated Introduction to Welfare Benefits 2019 course.
Neil Arnott - 04/01/2019
The government say 'The NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA) delivers the Prescription Exemption Checking Service and first began prescription exemption checks relating to Department for Work and Pensions benefits in June 2017....it issued a total of 1,863,098 prescription penalty charge notices between 4 June 2017 and 30 November 2018.'   There is still no box on the prescription form...
Neil Arnott - 04/01/2019
140,000+ per month Joining UC-     In November 2018, 1,426,540 claimants were on UC.   The DWP also state- 'As of 29 November we have: 26 UC Service Centres.  594 Jobcentres in Universal Credit Full Service and the rollout of the Full Service will complete, as planned, in December 2018'   Book Now for our updated An Overview of Universal Credit 2019 , new Universal Credit- the tricky...
Neil Arnott - 30/11/2018
Esther McVey has resigned after 10 months in the post of Work and Pensions Secretary. Amber Rudd has replaced her.   Labour have criticized the appointment-   '"After enforcing Theresa May's hostile environment in the Home Office, Amber Rudd will now be in charge of the DWP's hostile environment for disabled people and the poorest in society...With universal credit in absolute shambles,...
Neil Arnott - 30/11/2018
Latest statistics (2016/ 2017) show that the figures for unclaimed means tested welfare benefits remain extremely high. In the meantime clients continue to use foodbanks on an increasing basis.   Note that these figure should be higher as they do not include those for Job Seekers Allowance or Tax Credits. Universal Credit has the potential to result in a further fall in the take up of...
Neil Arnott - 30/11/2018
  More than half of all households receiving a payment of Universal Credit are entitled to support for housing.     94 per cent of paid Universal Credit full service claims were paid in full on time. book now NEW Universal Credit- the tricky parts Housing Costs and Universal Credit An overview- Universal Credit
Neil Arnott - 30/11/2018
UC is complex! These 3 courses will help you gain expertise (click on the course titles). NEW Universal Credit- the tricky parts Housing Costs and Universal Credit An overview- Universal Credit
Neil Arnott - 01/11/2018
‘Universal Credit is here to stay’ says the Chancellor Philip Hammond announced his latest Autumn Budget. The Welfare Benefit changes are spread out over the next few years.   Similar to the Budget last year , there are some useful changes for Universal Credit claimants in the pipeline.   Click on the link to access the guide(from our members' area).   Social Welfare Training's At a glance...
Neil Arnott - 01/11/2018
Join our Members' Area- reduced rate offer! (offer applies to renewals also)   We'd like to offer you the chance to join our members area now, for £59 (plus VAT) (reduced from £95) for your whole team for one year. Please quote code soc302 to receive the reduced rate fee. Code valid until 15 11 2018.   MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS in one place- continue training from your workplace with our...
Neil Arnott - 01/11/2018
The government has said ' I can confirm 55 per cent of all current universal credit customers have a benefit debt, social fund loan or benefit advance being managed by DWP. '   Many more clients will have other deductions taken, for example for rent arrears and arrears of utilities, This effectively means that clients on Universal Credit often live below their safety net level because of...
Neil Arnott - 01/11/2018
1.2 million claimants are now on UC.
Neil Arnott - 01/11/2018
This advice is from a Partnership Adviser in the DWP and is happy for the information to be shared-   ' I’ve had confirmation today that the following dummy details can be used:   Bank Account Number: 12345678   Sort Code: 01-02-03   This will allow people without a back account to make a claim. It triggers with the Service Centre that they are without one, which in turn will prompt a...
Neil Arnott - 01/10/2018
Retirement age is changing for women and also men. Retirement age de nes working age and has implications for the Bene ts people can claim.    The age for claiming both State Retirement Pension and Pension Credit for men and women will be the same from from November 2018.    Most of the £billions of cuts in Welfare Bene ts hit those under retirement age(working age).    The upper age for Personal...
Neil Arnott - 01/10/2018
Around 80% of mandatory reconsideration decisions are unchanged. At the end of July 2018, 1,885,000 people had a PIP claim in payment.          Book now for our updated PIP 2018- challenging decision workshop course.
Neil Arnott - 01/10/2018
Latest statistics show that the '...overturn rate varied by benefit type, with PIP and ESA both having 71%, Disability Living Allowance 65%, Universal Credit 55% and Job Seekers Allowance having 36% in favour of the customer.'    'There were 124,649 SSCS cases outstanding at the end of June 2018, up 20% compared to the same period in 2017.'    'ESA and PIP also make up the majority of SSCS...
Neil Arnott - 01/10/2018
The government has published useful Housing Benefit guidance relating to Universal Credit. A7/2018 (revised)    New style JSA and ESA- 'To enable Universal Credit and contribution-based JSA or ESA to be paid together, new style’ ESA and new style JSA have been introduced. The new style bene ts consist of the contribution-based part of the bene ts only. They can be paid regardless of whether a...
Neil Arnott - 01/10/2018
Claimants on Universal Credit have risen by 7% in just one month as more areas engage the digital(full) service.   
Neil Arnott - 04/09/2018
Remember that under Universal Credit we have different conditionality groups(what the client needs to do to fulfill their claimant commitment and get benefit).         Since last year, we have a smaller percentage of clients that need to undertake full work searches and a larger percentage that don't need to undertake any activity).     Book Now for our updated Universal Credit 2018...
Neil Arnott - 04/09/2018
Caselaw (MM v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (PIP): [2018] UKUT 193 (AAC).) has confirmed that for the purposes of Daily Living descriptor 3 the following counts as 'therapy''   '...“focused listening practice exercises”...'recommended by an audiologist... ... helped the claimant to improve her ability to hear effectively with her cochlear implants. '   Book Now for our updated PIP...
Neil Arnott - 04/09/2018
Remember UC is being rolled out to all areas by the end of December 2018.   It is rolled out by Job Centre plus office. Here's the timetable.   Click here to see how many claimants of UC there currently are in your area.   Book Now  for our updated Universal Credit 2018 course.
Neil Arnott - 04/09/2018
The Supreme Court  has ruled in favour of a client with 4 children who had been refused Widowed Parents Allowance and Bereavement Payment after cohabiting with her deceased partner for 23 years. Both benefits are contributory and non means tested. The law states that the benefit is normally only payable where the partners were either married or in a civil partnership but not cohabiting. The new...
Neil Arnott - 04/09/2018
The government has published draft regulations that deal with lots of issues relating to the migration of current legacy benefit claimants onto Universal Credit.   The draft Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) (Managed Migration) Amendment Regulations 2018 cover-   ● requirements for claimants on existing benefits to make a claim for universal credit- deadlines and arrangements for...
Neil Arnott - 14/08/2018
The number of live claims for Universal Credit has grown to nearly one million in June 2018. Eventually, the government estimate, there will be 8 million claimants.   As the digital (full) service rolls out to all areas this year, the numbers moving onto UC should speed up further.     Book Now for our updated Universal Credit 2018 course.
Neil Arnott - 14/08/2018
The burden of proof is on the DWP decision maker to show that a claimant did not have good cause for attending a PIP medical. Sometimes a client disputes that they received a letter about the appointment for the medical.   A PIP caselaw decision says that evidence of an appointment letter is generally required before a negative  determination can be made for failing to attend or participate in a...
Neil Arnott - 14/08/2018
A current change is that the age to claim Pension Credit will continue to rise- it was 64 and six months in April 2018 and will be 65 by November 2018. By November 2020 it will have risen to 66.   For those aged over over 65, Pension credit will include an amount for children from1 February 2019. Previously a client with children would have claimed Pension Credit and a separate claim for Child...
Neil Arnott - 14/08/2018
A common problem with Universal Credit is that many claimants don't complete their claims and receive a payment. Often it can lead to them having to reclaim, sometimes multiple times, leading to non payment of benefit and increased rent arrears.   Claimants, particularly those in a vulnerable position, will need help and support at the start of their first UC claim and subsequent claims. They...
Neil Arnott - 10/07/2018
The government say- 'We are currently testing the service with people who:   want to appeal a decision about a Personal Independent Payment; and live in one of the following areas: Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, East Sussex, Hertfordshire, Kent, the Midlands, Norfolk, Oxfordshire, Suffolk.'   Other changes- The Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of...
Neil Arnott - 10/07/2018
There have been some significant changes announced by the government concerning Universal Credit.    In a statement on 7/6/2018, Esther McVey, says that the government intends to make the following changes-   ● timetable for managed migration - this has been extended by 1 year. It is now due to run from July 2019 - March 2023. ● transitional protection and the severe disability premium- some...
Neil Arnott - 10/07/2018
DWP- 'New guidance coming into effect this summer means people who are awarded the highest level of support under PIP – and where their needs are expected to stay the same or increase – will receive an ongoing award of PIP with a light touch review every 10 years...We are still finalising details of the guidance and will publish it later this summer.'   Book Now for our updated PIP 2018-...
Neil Arnott - 10/07/2018
A National Audit Office report 'Rolling out Universal Credit' has found-   ‘no realistic alternative but to continue’...‘costs per claim- March 2018 £699(2024 prediction(£173 per claim...)’it’s not clear it will be cheaper to administer....may cost more’....12,000 staff working on UC....nearly 60% of new claimants (around 56,000 a month) receive a Universal Credit advance....one in five...
Neil Arnott - 10/07/2018
The number of live claims for Universal Credit has grown to nearly one million for the first time. As the digital (full) service rolls out to all areas this year, the numbers moving onto UC should speed up further.  
Neil Arnott - 02/07/2018
Want to see what the online claim and management process looks like? Click here to view items such as-   ●  The claim ●  The online journal ●  The to do list ●  The ID verification procedure ●  Change of circumstance   Book Now for our updated Universal Credit 2018 course.
Neil Arnott - 02/07/2018
The government has said it will start the reassessment of PIP cases concerning those with mental health conditions and mobility descriptor 1 and also safety.   ‘I am pleased to inform the House that two review exercises will begin today. One with regard to the MH and RJ judgments and one for claimants whose main disabling condition is haemarthropathy.'   New guidance has also been issued...
Neil Arnott - 20/06/2018
Some claimants of Universal Credit get help with free prescriptions and health benefits; those with net monthly earnings of less than £435 (or no earnings) or for those with children or those classed as sick the earnings threshold is higher- £935.   However the government has been slow in updating the form that clients use to declare that they do not have to pay.   The government say '..Not...
Neil Arnott - 01/06/2018
Latest UC statistics-   36% of claimants are in employment.  Conditionality(what a client has to do to get benefit) is shown below.  Book Now for our updated Universal Credit 2018 course.  
Neil Arnott - 01/06/2018
Government Statistics tell us that more people get sanctioned under Universal Credit than under the existing legacy benefits system.   Book now for our updated Introduction To Welfare Benefits 2018 course. Book Now for our updated Universal Credit 2018 course.  
Neil Arnott - 01/06/2018
'Welfare Conditionality: Sanctions, Support and Behaviour Change' is a major 5 year programme of research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. It brings together teams of researchers working in six English and Scottish Universities.   Key findings are- ● 'Welfare conditionality within the social security system is largely ineffective ... ● Recurrent short-term movements...
Neil Arnott - 03/05/2018
Between 1st April 2017 and 31st March 2018, The Trussell Trust’s foodbank network distributed 1,332,952 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis, a 13% increase on the previous year.   And yet around £13 billion goes unclaimed in benefits each year.   The Trussell Trust say- '...The top four reasons for referral to a foodbank in The Trussell Trust network in 2017-18 were ‘low...
Neil Arnott - 01/05/2018
You don't have to use a form(a letter or verbal communication would do) but some people prefer an official form. Click here for the Mandatory reconsideration form.
Neil Arnott - 01/05/2018
The government say-'...Universal Jobmatch will be replaced by the Find a job service on 14 May 2018. Important: If you have an existing Universal Jobmatch account it will not move to the new service. Save any information you want to keep, like your CV, cover letters and application history by 17 June 2018.' Adzuna have won the contract for its replacement.
Neil Arnott - 01/05/2018
From 6/4/2018 support through the benefits system will be a loan.   The law is here. The government has issued detailed guidance that helps with understanding more of the detail. Remember on Universal Credit, if you do any paid work, you get no help with housing costs for your mortgage.   Book now for our updated Introduction To Welfare Benefits 2018 course.
Neil Arnott - 01/05/2018
Universal Credit- 18-21 year olds cut scrapped   Until recently the law stopped some clients aged 18-21 from getting help with housing costs as part of their Universal Credit. The government has announced its intention to introduce regulations to scrap this rule. A youth obligation will be expected- '...Young people in return will have a Youth Obligation – an intensive package of labour...
Neil Arnott - 03/04/2018
Free E mail copy- Ensure you get the next finalised Benefits Rate Poster for 2018/ 2019 (due in mid April 2018) by checking you are subscribed to free newsletter click here. All subscribers will be sent a copy by email free of charge.   Free colour hard copy- (to be sent in late April) Just send an A4 SAE with postage for a large envelope to us at:   2018/2019 Benefit Rates Poster Social...
Neil Arnott - 03/04/2018
When clients are naturally migrated onto Universal Credit (due to a change of circumstance) they are being told that they need to send in sick notes and wait for a new Work Capability Assessment before a limited capability for work element (WRAG group) worth £126.11 per month or a limited capability for work related activity element (support group) £318.16 per month is awarded. Some are also told...
Neil Arnott - 03/04/2018
The DWP latest statistics say most work capability assessment decisions (including the medical which take around 14 weeks) are now taking 19 weeks to clear.   Also says it takes 11 days to get a mandatory reconsideration decision.  Tip- over 80% of MR's are turned down. It's often worthwhile taking the issue further to an appeal tribunal (around 62% are overturned in favour of the claimant...
Neil Arnott - 03/04/2018
UC- Housing Costs Update 2 important changes (regulations here) announced at the end of last year are coming which should aid claimants (DWP guidance)- Housing Benefit run on- HB run on for the first 2 weeks of the UC claim (from April 2018) ‘This will be unrecoverable, automatic and received early in the frst assessment period. This payment will be made by LAs and will not require any...
Neil Arnott - 01/03/2018
A recent ESA case(TM v SSWP (ESA) [2018] UKUT 9 (AAC)) has ruled then when we view the descriptors 11-17(part 2) for ESA (Mental, cognitive and intellectual function assessment) then we shouldn't take into account aids and adaptations.   For physical Impairment(descriptors 1-10)- the law was changed in 2013- 'Regulation 19(4) of the Employment Support Allowance Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/794...
Neil Arnott - 01/03/2018
Training for your team at a location to suit you. We have lots of availability for in house courses this May. We regularly train in-house throughout England and Wales.   To view our current in house training(including Universal Credit) courses click here.   Contact us to discuss in-house training provision.
Neil Arnott - 01/03/2018
From 6/4/2018 regulations have changed the support that people with a mortgage get from the benefits system. Instead of a payment the support will now be a loan.   Here are some of the main features- ● The scheme applies for those on Universal Credit, Income Support, JSA(income based), ESA(income related) and State Pension Credit(guarantee credit). ● Existing claimants who currently receive...
Neil Arnott - 01/03/2018
Up to now, claimants of Universal Credit with children would be entitled to free school meals. Even recipients who only get a few pounds of Universal Credit per month....   New regulations have been issued (applying from 1/4/2018) that decide at what point Universal Credit claimants will be entitled to free school meals and milk for their children.   The earnings thresholds below which...
Neil Arnott - 01/03/2018
Roll out for the digital(full)service continues to gather pace. By the end of April around 40% of the country will be covered.   The government aims for roll out to the whole of the country by the end of December 2018.   (See our guide to the roll out timetable).   Book Now for our updated Universal Credit 2018 and our Housing Costs and Universal Credit 2018 courses.
Neil Arnott - 01/03/2018
Want to know more of the detail on how people get their housing costs under UC?   This course examines the similarities to Housing Benefit and differences under the Universal Credit system.   Book Now  for our updated Housing Costs and Universal Credit 2018  courses.
Neil Arnott - 02/02/2018
UC- Getting payments direct to a private landlord   The government has confirmed- '...We have made practical improvements. For example, we have simplified and sped up the process for private rented sector managed payment requests, which can now be done by email and on a single form, with no additional information required...'   Book Now for our updated Housing Costs and Universal Credit 2018...
Neil Arnott - 02/02/2018
The fourth different Secretary of State for Work and Pensions since Ian Duncan Smith quit in 2016 has been appointed. The new secretary is Esther McVey who was minister for disabled people between 2012 and 2013 under Iain Duncan Smith. She helped implement PIP. She has previously been reported in the press as favouring the current freeze in benefit rates and the use of foodbanks.   Book now...
Neil Arnott - 02/02/2018
The government has issued a helpful guide for those who have experienced domestic violence and abuse.   'The cross-government definition of domestic violence and abuse is: any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or...
Neil Arnott - 02/02/2018
The government has said that up to 220,000 clients will be due extra PIP. This is because the government has decided not to further challenge the High Court decision mentioned in our last newsletter(January 2018). The clients due the extra benefit will be those adversely affected by the changes to the March 2017 PIP descriptors. These had ruled out the descriptor mobility activity 1 (planning...
Neil Arnott - 04/01/2018
Aged under 25 and on Income Support (IS) or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA(IB)) or ESA(IR) which does not include an amount for the support component or work-related activity component 2017/ 2018 nil 2018/ 2019 nil Aged 25 or over and on IS or JSA(IB), or aged 18 or over and not in remunerative work 14.80 15.25 In receipt of main phase ESA(IR) 14.80 15.25 In receipt...
Neil Arnott - 04/01/2018
The changes to the March 2017 PIP descriptors ruled out the descriptor mobility activity 1 (planning and following journeys) for many clients with mental health conditions. The government added to parts c, d and f ..'For reasons other than psychological distress'. The High Court has ruled that these changes are unlawful. A full hearing has been listed for June 2018.
Neil Arnott - 04/01/2018
Ensure you get the next Benefits Rate Poster for 2018/2019 (due in mid January 2018) by checking you are subscribed to our free newsletter click here. All subscribers will  be sent the new poster automatically free of charge.   Changes include- The Carer’s Allowance Earnings Rule will be increased from £116 to £120 a week, Non-Dependant Deductions (NDDs) will also be up-rated in line with...
Neil Arnott - 04/01/2018
Trussell Trust(along with CPAG) have produced a detailed report on the use of foodbanks. '...We urge the government, therefore, to ensure that there are robust systems in place – the safety net beneath the safety net – to protect vulnerable claimants when things do go wrong. This report highlights a number of actions that could help secure the change needed. In particular, we would like to see...
Neil Arnott - 04/01/2018
UC- no more new Live Service claims   The government has issued guidance to Housing Benefit staff HB Bulletin U4/2017 in connection with some of the changes announced in the Autumn Budget 2017( see our guide).   (See also our guide to the roll out timetable)   '...Universal Credit live service will cease to take new claims from 1 January 2018... Existing Universal Credit live service...
Neil Arnott - 08/12/2017
There has been more complication introduced into the roll out schedule of Universal Credit. New claims for Universal Credit in live service areas will cease at the end of December 2017, and instead new claimants would claim legacy benefits. New claimants would then have to wait for the digital service in their area and a change of circumstance before they move onto Universal Credit. Existing...
Neil Arnott - 01/12/2017
at a glance guide to changes(particularly to Universal Credit) announced in the Autumn 2017 budget)     at a glance guide to the revised rollout schedule for Universal Credit digital(full) service   Book Now for our updated Universal Credit 2018 and our Housing Costs and Universal Credit 2018 courses.
Neil Arnott - 01/12/2017
Concerning clients' ability to carry out the descriptors in PIP safely-   The government has said- '...Today I am publishing an updated version of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Assessment Guide which provides guidance for Health Professionals carrying out PIP assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions. The department routinely updates the Guide to further...
Neil Arnott - 01/12/2017
'To Whose Credit'' A report on the impact of the introduction in July 2016 of the full digital Universal Credit Service in the Lancaster District.'   Key findings were- '...Conclusion- Universal Credit as it exists at present is not fit for purpose. It can scarcely be called a benefit, as it is throwing vulnerable people into hardship through the complexity of the application and managing...
Neil Arnott - 01/12/2017
The government has said-   '...DWP customer telephone lines will be changed to Freephone numbers...by the end of the year...(including Universal Credit)...anyone who needs extra help with their online account but we want to make the process as burden free as possible, including for people who use our telephone service....'
Neil Arnott - 01/12/2017
'...The ESA health and work conversation (HWC) is a mandatory work focussed interview that takes place around 4 weeks after a person makes an ESA claim (unless an exemption applies).'(govt)   ...Your benefit may be reduced if you don’t attend your health and work conversation.'(govt)   Book now for our updated Introduction To Welfare Benefits 2018 course
Neil Arnott - 02/11/2017
UC- latest and useful help    A useful DWP document for landlords explains-   No copy of the tenancy agreement? 'If a tenant doesn’t have a copy of their tenancy agreement, DWP may accept a letter from the landlord confirming the current rent and service charges.' (para 4.1)   Notification that a tenant is on UC to social landlords- '...UC179 form – notification to social landlord of a...
Neil Arnott - 02/11/2017
From 29/9/2017 the Government has announced in a policy paper that some clients in the Support Group will no longer have their ESA(or equivalent under Universal Credit) reassessed. Criteria is that a client needs to have '...have a severe, lifelong disability, illness or health condition...(and)...are unlikely to ever be able to move into work.'   This doesn't apply for clients in the Work...
Neil Arnott - 02/11/2017
A useful case has decided that a client can still continue forward to an appeal even if a decision maker does not accept the reasons for lateness given for a mandatory reconsideration(revision). Here's the DWP guidance- (para. 6) '...If a late application is made within 13 months but cannot be admitted and the decision cannot be revised for official error, a decision refusing to revise should be...
Neil Arnott - 02/11/2017
The government has said that for JSA- no, but for Universal Credit, yes. One of the objectives of UC is to promote flexible working in the gig economy.  '..Universal Credit payments adjust automatically depending on the amount a claimant earns, so that a claimant whose hours may change are financially supported and do not need to switch their benefit claim. Therefore, a Universal Credit claimant...
Neil Arnott - 02/11/2017
The Statistics tell us 85% of new claims reconsiderations and 79% of reassessed DLA reconsiderations for normal rules resulted in no change to the award. The message is clear- around 60% of clients win their cases at appeal- don't be put off by mandatory reconsideration. This course uses a real PIP case- Book now  for our updated Benefit Appeals 2017  course
Neil Arnott - 02/10/2017
Calls to pause UC roll out- to avert '...a human and political catastrophe’from the Work and Pensions Committee.  Citizens Advice Report- Universal Credit 'is a disaster waiting to happen' and no one should wait '... longer than 6 weeks for an income, and that anyone who needs it gets a payment within 2 weeks that they do not need to repay..Problems with budgeting, particularly when people’s...
Neil Arnott - 02/10/2017
According to a report by the Centre for Responsible Credit many Local Welfare Provision Schemes are in crisis. Key Findings- Twenty six local authorities have now closed their schemes altogether; A further forty one authorities have cut back spending on their schemes by over 60 percent; Eleven of these have cut spending by over 80 percent and their schemes are now on the brink of collapse. The...
Neil Arnott - 02/10/2017
Latest annual Government Take up Statistics on the take up of means tested benefits show £12.4 billion went unclaimed in 2015/2016. % of those who do receive their entitlement – JSA(IB)- 59%(down by over 10% in three years), Pension Credit- 67%, Housing Benefit- 85% , ESA(IR) and IS)- 86% Our course next week helps you to support your clients to obtain their legal entitlements. Book now -updated...
Neil Arnott - 01/09/2017
The Government has published its final review on the State Pension Age-   'The Government intends to follow the recommendation John Cridland made in his independent review to increase the State Pension age from 67 to 68 in 2037– 39, bringing it forward by seven years from its current legislated date of 2044–46.' '...between now and 2036/37, annual State Pension spending is set to rise by an...
Neil Arnott - 01/09/2017
(From the accompanying course booklet supplied to participants on our Benefits for Older People course)- 'Attendance Allowance(like Disability Living Allowance and PIP) can be viewed as helping fulfil the social model of disability. It is payment of bene t by the Government, as a right, in recognition that disabled people have extra expenses as a result of the way society is set up for able...
Neil Arnott - 01/09/2017
The government has issued new regulations making changes (in force from 6 April 2018) so that Mortgage interest will no longer be paid as a benefit but instead as a loan.   For existing claimants-'Regulation 19 contains transitional provisions for the situation where an existing claimant is entitled to a qualifying benefit, including an amount for owner-occupier payments, on 5th April 2018. In...
Neil Arnott - 01/09/2017
Latest Statistics on the Benefit Cap are available here. Three-quarters of capped households are capped because of the introduction of lower cap levels. Book now for our updated Benefits Updater 2017 course.   
Neil Arnott - 01/09/2017
Latest projections from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of people over State Pension age in the UK is expected to grow by a third between 2017 and 2042, from 12.4 million in 2017 to 16.9 million in 2042.   Book now for our updated Bene ts for Older People course course   
Neil Arnott - 01/08/2017
Getting sanctioned when on JSA is very common. How can you help clients who struggle with their JSA claimant commitment? One way is- using the regulation 13 of the Job Seekers Allowance regulations 1996- ‘physical or mental health’ - a client may ‘...restrict his availability in any way providing the restrictions are reasonable in the light of his physical or mental condition.’ A...
Neil Arnott - 01/08/2017
The government has said it plans to- 'merge 68 smaller jobcentres into larger or underused ones nearby move 4 jobcentres to new sites where we have secured better new premises co-locate around an additional 40 jobcentres with local authorities or other community services to provide joined-up services for the local community with all services in one place move to a network of larger more ef...
Neil Arnott - 01/08/2017
Hardship payments are often payable where a client has been sanctioned and has no other income/ savings to rely on. Often they are paid at 60% of the personal allowance(or sometimes 80%). The law has been changed to remove the 14 day waiting period for such payments for a couple of extra groups- '...The amendments in paragraph (2)(a) and (d) provide that a person with a long-term mental...
Neil Arnott - 01/08/2017
Housing Benefit guidance has been issued to try to reduce the misdirection by Benfit Authorities for clients with more than 2 children in digital(full service) Universal Credit areas. 'Some claimants are being misdirected to claim the wrong bene t depending upon their personal circumstances. This misdirection results in claimants being sent from Universal Credit to tax credits and Housing...
Neil Arnott - 01/08/2017
The number of people on Universal Credit as of 8 June 2017 was 540 thousand. Of these people 210 thousand (39 per cent) were in employment.  Book now for our updated Universal Credit 2017 course.   
Neil Arnott - 07/07/2017
The new team at the Department for Work and Pensions is: Secretary of State – Rt Hon David Gauke MP Minister of State for Employment – Damian Hinds MP Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work – Penny Mordaunt MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Pensions and Financial Inclusion – Guy Opperman MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Family Support,...
Neil Arnott - 07/07/2017
A press release from the last coalition government still holds true. ‘Up to £2.93 billion of Pension Credit goes unclaimed every year and as many as 1.6 million people could be entitled to this money. ‘ 'If anyone thinks a family member, a friend or neighbour might be entitled to Pension Credit, I’d encourage them to ask them to get in touch and nd out.' He also mentions that Pension...
Neil Arnott - 07/07/2017
Guidance (HB U2/2017) has been issued by the government after a case was won by a client in the High Court concerning the application of the Benefit Cap. 'The Court has declared that benefit cap legislation is unlawful in relation to its application to lone parents of children aged under 2. 3. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has considered the judgment and is taking steps to appeal it...
Neil Arnott - 07/07/2017
Atos Healthcare is changing its name to Independent Assessment Services(IAS). They say- '... we have introduced a new business name that better represents the work we do independently assessing PIP cases.' '..We believe Independent Assessment Services does this because: • It makes it clear that we are ‘independent’ providers, distinct from DWP • ‘Assessment’ explains the service we...
Neil Arnott - 07/07/2017
Nos. on UC- The number of people on Universal Credit as of 11 May 2017 was 530 thousand. Of these people 200 thousand (38 per cent) were in employment.  Book now for our updated Universal Credit 2017 course.   
Neil Arnott - 07/07/2017
A stunning 86% of ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) decisions remain unchanged on mandatory reconsideration(click here for the figures) .... and then 70% are reversed on appeal! Latest Statistics from the Tribunals Service tell us (January- March 2017)-   69,047 appeals against decisions were received, up 67% compared with the same period in 2016. This increase is driven by increases seen...
Neil Arnott - 08/06/2017
The Public Law Project have obtained some figures from the government that show there is a key performance indicator for the outcome of mandatory reconsiderations. 'The key measures which are used by the Department for Work and Pensions to monitor Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) performance are: ... b) 80% of the original decisions are to be upheld The performance measures for April...
Neil Arnott - 08/06/2017
An earnings limit has been set in Scotland from 1/8/2017 above which households won't be able to get free school meals. The new earnings threshold is set at £610 in the assessment period immediately preceding the application for a free school lunch or early learning and childcare. Up until now all households on Universal Credit would have received free school meals if they had children. Book...
Neil Arnott - 08/06/2017
A regulation has been issued that means support for mortgage interest will fall from 3.16% to 2.61% from 18/6/2017. Mortgage interest is normally part of the calculation for those with mortgages on Universal Credit, Income Support, JSA(income Based), ESA(income related), Pension Credit (guarantee credit). Book now for our updated Introduction to Welfare Benefits 2017 course.  
Neil Arnott - 08/06/2017
520,000 were on UC on 13/4/2017. Around 37% are in employment and 63% not. Book now for our updated Universal Credit2017 course.   
Neil Arnott - 08/06/2017
If Labour are elected they say they will repeal some of the £billions of cuts to the Bene ts System over the last 7 years. The Labour Party manifesto says they will- '• Scrap the punitive sanctions regime • Scrap the Bedroom Tax • reinstate Housing Bene t for under-21s • Scrap cuts to Bereavement Support Payment • reform and redesign UC, ending six-week delays in payment and the...
Neil Arnott - 07/05/2017
Nos. on UC- The number of people on Universal Credit as of 9 March 2017 was 490 thousand. Of these people 190 thousand (38 per cent) were in employment.  Prisoners- '...Due to restrictions on accessing and using computers in prisons, prison leavers cannot currently make a claim in advance of their release. ' (govt.) Increase in foodbank use- New report(Trussell Trust) on Universal Credit...
Neil Arnott - 07/05/2017
JSA bus fares to attend job centre? - the government say '...Jobcentre Plus is able to reimburse travel costs for those claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance or the equivalent claimants for Universal Credit any attendance above their fortnightly signing appointment.' Half price bus fares for claimants? The government say '...Jobseekers who have been claiming Universal Credit or Jobseeker’s...
Neil Arnott - 02/05/2017
The second Independent review of PIP has surprisingly recommended ' ...the Department makes clear that the responsibility to provide further evidence lies primarily with the claimant and that they should not assume the Department will contact health care professionals.' The report found many problems with the current system- '...A key conclusion of the review is that public trust in...
Neil Arnott - 02/05/2017
DS1500 reports for the terminally ill for PIP assessments will be able to be submitted electronically by healthcare professionals from May 2017. This will be through the online portal. Book now for our updated Introduction to Welfare Benefits 2017 course.   
Neil Arnott - 02/05/2017
Labour accused the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of "rewarding failure" by Atos and Capita, which appear set to be paid more than £700 million for their ve-year contracts(due to end in December 2018). £578 has already been paid.(Press Association gures) This compares with an original estimate of £512 million for the contracts to carry out assessments for personal independence payments (...
Neil Arnott - 30/03/2017
Ensure you get the next finalised Benefits Rate Poster for 2017/ 2018(due in mid April 2017) by checking you are subscribed to free newsletter click here. All subscribers will be sent the new poster automatically free of charge. For a free colour hard copy- (to be sent in Mid April) For a free colour hard copy- Just send an A4 SAE with postage for a large envelope to us at: 2017/2018...
Neil Arnott - 30/03/2017
  In response to the two Supreme Court cases won by clients, guidance around the Universal Credit housing costs element and amended Housing Bene t and the bedroom tax/ Local Housing Allowance have been amended. An extra bedroom may now be allowed where -  - a disabled child or disabled non-dependant adult requires, and has, overnight care from a non-resident carer (or group of carers); or - a...
Neil Arnott - 30/03/2017
Nos. on UC- The number of people on Universal Credit rose to 470,000 in February 2017. 39% are in employment. And a rise in arrears for those in emergency temporary accommodation(ETA) in the full service areas- Mark Fowler Director of Gateway & Welfare, Croydon council evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee- Drop in collection levels Croydon 32%, Sutton 49% and Southwark...
Neil Arnott - 30/03/2017
The latest PIP Statistics- ● '1,232,200 claims in payment at January 2017, up 141,000 from October 2016' Mandatory reconsiderations- '85% of new claims reconsiderations and 79% of reassessed DLA reconsiderations for normal rules resulted in no change to the award.' Around 70% of PIP appeals are then won by clients. PIP Medicals and Appointees- Can an appointee attend without client?...
Neil Arnott - 30/03/2017
From 3/4/2017 the law has been changed around ESA which should help clients- Permitted work- remove the 52 week limit on work(permitted wok higher limit). ● ESA Hardship payment when sanctioned – the rate will be 80% of the personal allowance(not the usual 60%) where they are not in receipt of a work-related activity component as part of their ESA award and either they or a member of...
Neil Arnott - 30/03/2017
Universal Credit- 18-21 year olds- housing costs restrictions- Click here for the law. exemptions- ●  is responsible for a child or a qualifying young person; ●  was a care leaver before reaching the age of 18; ●  receives the care component of disability living allowance at the middle or highest rate or the daily living component of personal independence payment; ●  has been subject...
Neil Arnott - 09/03/2017
Have your say on how UC is going- (deadline 20/3/2017) Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee said:   'Huge delays in people receiving payments from Universal Credit have resulted in claimants falling into debt and rent arrears, caused health problems and led to many having to rely on food banks. It is bad enough that UC has a built-in six-week wait between someone...
Neil Arnott - 09/03/2017
New law will apply from 3/ 4/2017 removing the Work Related Activity Component for new claimants of ESA.  The Support Component if applicable will remain payable.   Transitional protection is given where- 'where  (a)the claim for employment and support allowance was made before 3rd April 2017 and that claim results in an award; (b) where the claim was made on or after 3rd April 2017 but the...
Neil Arnott - 09/03/2017
In response to two test cases ,  the government has changed the law to alter the wording concerning two PIP descriptors.  Click on the link in the last sentence to see how-  re- Daily Living Descriptor 3- Managing therapy or monitoring a health condition. 'Regulations 2(2) and 2(3) reverse the effect of the judgment of the Upper Tribunal in the case of Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v...
Neil Arnott - 06/02/2017
The government has signalled that it intends to set up regulations for the new benefit- 'Bereavement Support Payment is a new benefit which replaces the current suite of bereavement benefits (Bereavement Payment, Bereavement Allowance and Widowed Parent’s Allowance) for those whose spouse or civil partner dies on or after 6 April this year. These changes will not affect those already in...
Neil Arnott - 06/02/2017
Can't have a DHP with Managed Payments? Not correct- '...what reason the universal credit regulations require that a claimant with a managed payment to landlord (MPtL) is unable to apply for a discretionary housing payment from their local authority while a MPtL is in place.....' Damien Hinds, Minister of State DWP- 'DWP does not see any reason why Discretionary Housing Payments cannot...
Neil Arnott - 06/02/2017
  Penny Mordaunt The Minister of State, DWP   
Neil Arnott - 06/02/2017
The DWP have published plans to shut some job centres and colocate others with organisations such as Local Authorities. £180 million per year would be saved for the next 10 years. Click on the link to see the proposals for your job centre. Reasons are- '...The way DWP services are delivered has changed significantly in recent years; for example 8 out of 10 claims for Jobseeker’s Allowance and 99...
Neil Arnott - 06/02/2017
'Where a claimant has an appointee, this will be fagged in the initial referral to the AP. Where an appointee has been nominated to represent the claimant, the claimant must not be instructed to attend a face to face by the AP. This is because they have been deemed incapable of engaging directly with DWP or its contracted APs. Instead, and only if a face to face consultation is deemed necessary,...
Neil Arnott - 06/02/2017
A Housing Benefit Bulletin(guidance HB G1/2017) regarding the grace period allowed before applying the Benefit Cap'...Periods of work abroad and periods covered by zero hours contracts(provided there was no claim for working age benefits during that time) count towards employment for grace period purposes. There is no need to make further enquiries to substantiate either situation..' Book now for...
Neil Arnott - 09/01/2017
Ensure you get the next Benefits Rate Poster for 2017/ 2018(due in mid January 2017) by checking you are subscribed for to free newsletter click here. All subscribers will be sent the new poster automatically free of charge. Changes include- The Carer’s Allowance Earnings Rule will be increased for 2017-18 from £110 to £116 a week, Non-Dependant Deductions (NDDs) will also be up-rated in line...
Neil Arnott - 09/01/2017
We have improved our training venues for 2017. We have changed some locations and improved catering at others. All venues are within a few hundred metres of city centres and main train/ tube stations. Check out our full open course training program click here.
Neil Arnott - 09/01/2017
A report 'Fraud and error in the benefit system' by the DWP  finds- '1.9% of total bene t expenditure was overpaid due to fraud and error (up from 1.8% in 2014/15) the estimated value of overpayments is £3.3 billion (a rise from the 2014/15 estimated value of £3.0 billion)   the net government loss, after recoveries, is £2.2 billion, or 1.3% of bene t expenditure 1.0% of total bene t...
Neil Arnott - 09/01/2017
Are you aware of, and do you know the outcome of completing the alleged new form or questionnaire that is being sent to PIP/DLA claimants who are due for renewal within eighteen month?. It has been said this new form enquires if conditions have improved, remained the same or got worse and I have been told some individuals are having their bene t stopped at that point. The law (reg 11 The Social...
Neil Arnott - 09/01/2017
Neil Couling, Director General for the Universal Credit Programme, gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament on 15/12/2016(watch the video here, or read the transcript). Here are some of the main points- Implied and Explicit Consent- 'Implied Consent' is possible for the live service areas(most of the country). It is not possible in the full service/ digital service areas because here the claimant...
Neil Arnott - 01/12/2016
The government has announced-'...Hardship payments act as a safety net to cover day-to-day living costs, and are issued immediately to individuals who are sanctioned and meet certain criteria like having children, or a long-term health condition. Other jobseekers cannot claim payments for the rst 14 days of a sanction...The criteria will now extend immediate access to homeless people and...
Neil Arnott - 01/12/2016
Speaking at a conference on Welfare Reform Damien Green said   'The first principle is that a welfare state is not enough – we need a welfare system, involving many players – health professionals, employers large and small, a whole range of voluntary organisations.   The second is that for most people the purpose of the welfare system is to help them get into work, stay in work, and progress...
Neil Arnott - 01/12/2016
The government has issued guidance after 2 clients won their cases in the Supreme Court against the bedroom tax. '...The Court declared that Mrs Carmichael (the fth ‘MA’ case who cannot share a bedroom with her husband because of her disabilities) and the Rutherfords (the grandparents of a severely disabled child who need an additional room for the child’s overnight carer) had suffered disability...
Neil Arnott - 01/12/2016
Ensure you get the next Benefits Rate Poster for 2017/ 2018(due in January 2017) by making sure you are subscribed our this free newsletter click here. Changes include- The Carer’s Allowance Earnings Rule will be increased for 2017-18 from £110 to £116 a week, Non-Dependant Deductions (NDDs) will also be up-rated in line with prices and the majority of working-age benefits have been frozen at...
Neil Arnott - 01/12/2016
Currently State Pension Age is set to rise to 66 by 2020 and 67 by 2028. Will it go higher?   The Pensions Act 2014 requires the government to review the State Pension age during each Parliament. The State Pension age independent review is gathering evidence(that runs until 31 December 2016) and will consider a broad range of factors before making recommendations to the government in 2017....
Neil Arnott - 01/12/2016
Latest National Universal Credit Roll Out Schedule released- the government has release a full national timetable of the rollout of the digital (full) service areas by job centre area.   Click here  to access the guide. (from our members' area) At present, in most areas, only simple single job seeking claims are accepted for Universal Credit. The guide gives the dates when the government says...
Neil Arnott - 01/11/2016
We've created this Personal Independence Payment(PIP) quiz and supplied the government’s answers from recent statements via Hansard in the Houses of Parliament- Do PIP Medical Assessors have Targets! Yes/ No ? '...No targets are in place as to how many applications are successful.' Penny Mordaunt   Will you see a doctor at your PIP Medical? Yes/ No ? '..they must be an occupational therapist...
Neil Arnott - 01/11/2016
A Research briefing- Impact of applying Local Housing Allowance rates to general needs social tenants by the NHF has concluded-  'how many Housing Benefit-eligible households are affected, i.e. would face a shortfall?..England 25,999 households(18.2%) by an average of £18.28...housing association tenants by an average of £20.43 and council tenants by an average of £9.50 PW'.   And in relation...
Neil Arnott - 01/11/2016
A report by the Social Market Foundation has found that many self employed claimants under UC will be worse off- 'Financial pressures are set to become more severe as Universal Credit is rolled out, as the amount low-paid self- employed individuals can claim will depend on how much they would be expected to earn if they were paid at the National Living Wage, rather than their actual earnings. We...
Neil Arnott - 01/11/2016
Damien Green, in a speech to the Conservative Party conference 2016, has said- ' ...Conservatives know that the real helping hand involves giving people the chance to work, to earn, to progress, and to control their own lives...My vision is a Welfare State that’s fit for the world of work in the 21st century. That offers work for those who can, help for those who could, and care for those who...
Neil Arnott - 24/10/2016
The number of people on Universal Credit as of 11 August 2016 was 324,058. Of these people 133,718 (41 per cent) were in employment. Book Now for our updated Universal Credit 2016 course.
Neil Arnott - 24/10/2016
The government has released figures (up to July 2016) on PIP 931,800 claims in payment,1,769,600 claims assessed-      For the majority of mandatory reconsiderations, the award remains unchanged- Of the new claim normal rules MRs cleared, 36,400 (15%) led to a change in the claimant’s award, and 24,900 (22%) reassessed DLA MRs cleared led to a change in award.-     Characteristics of...
Neil Arnott - 24/10/2016
Latest Welfare benefit Appeal Statistics show that PIP appeals account for 41% and ESA 40% of appeals.   Appeals are on the rise again- 'In April to June 2016, 46,832 appeals against decisions were received, up 21% when compared with the same period in 2015....Following the staged introduction of mandatory reconsideration from April 2013, the number of appeals declined in 2013/14, reaching...
Neil Arnott - 10/10/2016
The government is currently making changes to the way social rented sector tenants have their Housing Benefit assessed. One change is unusual in that it applies to new tenants who sign up now but only from 2018- Housing Benefit reduced for claimants in the social Sector For new tenancies signed after 1 April 2016, Housing Benefit entitlement will change from 1 April 2018 onwards.  Cap the...
Neil Arnott - 10/10/2016
The government announced in the Summer Budget 2015 that it would be making around £13 billion in cuts to the Benefit System. We now have more detail on changes to the Benefits Cap- (click here for the Housing Benefit General Information Bulletin HB G9/2016) - added to our Members' area. Instead of 2 rates of the Benefit Cap there are now 4.  The rates have also been reduced.  The new cap rate...
Neil Arnott - 20/09/2016
We have some spare stocks this year of our colour 2016/2017 Benefit Rates Poster for professionals and would like to offer you up to 10 free copies.    For free hard copies- Just send an A4 SAE with postage for a large envelope to us at: 2016/2017 Benefit Rates Poster Social Welfare Training Limited 60 Strathmore Road, Horfield, Bristol BS7 9QJ.   On the envelope please tell us whether you'd...
Neil Arnott - 13/09/2016
Rollout - the government has given us some complex detail- ' ... we will direct new claims from families with more than two children to Tax Credits until November 2018. Thereafter, new claims from families with more than two children will be taken through Universal Credit. Families already on Universal Credit who have a third child after April 2017 will remain on Universal Credit and receive two...
Neil Arnott - 13/09/2016
Join our Members' Area- reduced rate offer until 26/9/2016. (offer applies to renewals also). We'd like to offer you the chance to join our members area now, for £59 plus VAT, instead of £95, for your whole team for one year. Please quote code soc2016/1 to receive the reduced rate fee. A form can be downloaded from this page. code valid until 26/9/2016 MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS- Universal Credit...
Neil Arnott - 13/09/2016
The government has issued guidance that will allow more refugees/ those afforded humanitarian protection and their families to access disability and carers bene ts. Residence periods before claiming are no longer required. Normally to claim Personal Independence Payment/ Attendance Allowance/ Disability Living Allowance or Carers Allowance the claimant needs to have been in the country for a...
Neil Arnott - 17/08/2016
The think tank, New Policy Institute, has produced a report about the links between poverty and disability. It has found that '...half of people in poverty are in a household with a disabled person or are disabled themselves.'   'Disabled people are more likely than non-disabled people to be disadvantaged in multiple aspects of life: these are problems in of themselves and also contributing...
Neil Arnott - 17/08/2016
How change of circumstances are reported in 'full service areas'- 90% of the time through online channel.   How many are on direct payment of housing costs- DWP Statistics on APA's show 20% of UC awards have direct pay to the landlord.   Numbers on Universal Credit- The number of people on Universal Credit as of 9 June 2016 was 279,315. The number of people in employment is currently 113,868...
Neil Arnott - 17/08/2016
The government want to hear your views on how PIP is working. The call for evidence lasts up until up to 5pm on 16/9/2016. This is the second independent review of PIP and '... will be used to inform the Independent Reviewer’s conclusions. The Independent Reviewer will then make recommendations to the Secretary of State, which will be laid before Parliament in the form of a report to which the...
Neil Arnott - 17/08/2016
The new Secretary from State for Work and Pensions is Damian Green MP(taking over from the short lived Stephen Crabb MP). Other members of the team are- Minister of State for Employment – Damian Hinds MP Minister of State for Disabled People, Work and Health – Penny Mordaunt MP Minister of State for Welfare Reform – Rt Hon Lord David Freud Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Pensions – Richard...
Neil Arnott - 17/08/2016
From 28/7/2016, if a client expects to be absent from Great Britain for 4 weeks the above benefits are lost. Click here for the guidance. Extensions in the time allowable are where there has been the death of a family member(up to 8 weeks) or for medical treatment abroad (up to 26 weeks). Book Now for our updated Introduction to Welfare Bene ts 2016 course.
Neil Arnott - 17/08/2016
Latest appeal statistics show that that the number of appeals is increasing mainly due to Personal Independence Payment(PIP) appeals. The rate at which clients win(overturn) their appeals is also increasing. 'In January to March 2016, 41,441 appeals against decisions were received, up 14% when compared with the same period in 2015. Overall there were 157,180 SSCS appeals received in 2015/16, up...
Neil Arnott - 08/07/2016
The latest statistics show that only 20% of ESA mandatory reconsiderations are revised in the client's favour. Around 12,000 mandatory reconsideration requests are received each month by the DWP. Lots of clients then go onto win at appeal. Book Now for our updated Welfare Benefit Appeals 2016 course.   
Neil Arnott - 08/07/2016
UC- in work conditionality- Eventually with Universal Credit it won't be enough for a claimant to work part time and get bene t. Claimants will be required to work and earn at least 35 x the minimum wage. If they don't achieve thistheywillbeexpectedtolookformoreworkandcouldbesubjecttobene tsanctions. The government has con rmed that this is still some way off for all claimants and will be running...
Neil Arnott - 08/07/2016
Medicals are carried out by either Capita or ATOS and are an important part of the process for being assessed for PIP. Increasingly it seems that clients are needing to challenge PIP decisions to get what they are due under the law. Can you record a medical? The government has said 'The recording of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) consultations by assessment providers is not currently part of...
Neil Arnott - 08/07/2016
The government have produced a handy factsheet about discretionary housing payments(DHPs). Click here. Want to learn how to Maximise Housing Bene t? Here's an extract from our updated Maximising Housing Benefit course - book now. 'Discretionary Housing Payments These are extra payments to help you meet the shortfall between your rent and your Housing Beneft or Universal Credit Housing...
Neil Arnott - 08/07/2016
unclaimed claimants amount unclaimed % of amount that could have been claimed pension credit 1.4 million £3.1 billion 69% Housing Benefit 1.4 million £4.6 billion 86% JSA(income based) 0.8 million £2.4 billion 57% Income Support/ ESA(income related) 0.6 million £2.9 billion 84% Latest government take up surveys for means tested benefit in 2014-2015 suggest around £13...
Neil Arnott - 09/06/2016
Numbers of claimants on on UC- 247.801 as of 14/4/2016. 39% are in employment. There is an average of 12,788 new claims per week. Book Now for our updated Universal Credit 2016 course this month.   
Neil Arnott - 09/06/2016
The latest HB Direct newsletter advises that claimants who are likely to be affected by the changes to the benefit cap levels will be notified from 24/5/2016, and that councils have been sent scans containing details of those housing benefit claimants. What about Universal Credit claimants? 'Claimants in receipt of Universal Credit who are likely to be impacted by the changes to the benefit cap...
Neil Arnott - 09/06/2016
Around 60% of PIP appeals are successful for claimants. The government say- 'The Department gathers information on the reasons why PIP decisions have been overturned from its Presenting Officers and the summary reasons it gets back from the Tribunal hearing. Internal Management Information for 2015/16 indicates that either new oral or documentary evidence supplied at the hearing are the leading...
Neil Arnott - 09/06/2016
From 29/6/2016 a new regulation exempts under 18's claimants from the law that usually means that DLA/PIP stops after 28 days in hospital. Those on DLA who turn age 16 whilst in hospital would not be asked to be  reassessed until after they leave hospital. Book Now for our PIP 2016- challenging decisions- workshop   
Neil Arnott - 09/06/2016
Clients can access a Video Relay Service from 25 April on GOV.UK and there will also be a BSL video link which explains how to use the service. The trial of the Video Relay Service (VRS) will include the PIP enquiry line, new claims and reassessments, and Special Rules for Terminally Ill cases. The service enables British Sign Language (BSL) users to make BSL interpreted video calls via their...
Neil Arnott - 09/06/2016
Guidance here from the DWP clarifies the law governing how people can present as sick but stay on JSA. A client can be sick for up to 2 weeks twice in any 12 month period. They can also have an 'extended period of sickness' of 13 weeks(ifasicknoteorothermedicalevidenceisproduced). Noteaclientwho is too sick to work may still be better off presenting as sick and claim ESA instead if they might be...
Neil Arnott - 09/06/2016
The Digital Service area is expanding this year. The DWP has issued guidance to explain the latest postcodes where the Digital Service area will apply to new claims. Exceptions where a claim for Tax Credit , Housing Benefit or Income support might still be made are given as- ●  Specified accommodation where a claim for HB will still be possible ●  State Pension Credit(SPC) qualifying age-...
Neil Arnott - 16/05/2016
UC to continue- Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb has said he is "absolutely committed" to the government's fagship Universal Credit reform. 'Stephen Crabb should restate and reclaim the role of UC in supporting more people into work and then boosting earnings, rather than being a source of savings for the Treasury to meet fiscal targets.' argues Resolution Foundation Their 3...
Neil Arnott - 16/05/2016
Since Council Tax Benefit was abolished in 2013, a local system has been introduced of 'Council Tax Support or rebate'. Each council sets its own rules and these vary depending on where you live. The schemes often are amended each year. A website now allows you to check which schemes operate in each local authority area.  Book now for our updated Introduction to Welfare Benefits 2016 course.   
Neil Arnott - 03/05/2016
If you would like a free colour hard copy, then please send an A4 SAE to 60 Strathmore Road, Horfield, Bristol BS7 9QJ. You will need to specify if you would like A3 or A4 size.   
Neil Arnott - 01/04/2016
Numbers of claimants on on UC- 203,392 as of 11/2/2016. click here for the full statistics. 40% are in employment and around 10,000 new claims are being made each month. Flexible support fund for those on UC- The government has said clients can access this pot of money where their work coach can-'...identify a barrier to retaining employment, the work coach has discretion to make an award...
Neil Arnott - 01/04/2016
Ian Duncan Smith resigned as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on 18/3/2016 in protest at the proposed cuts in PIP. The government has now decided not to implement these changes The new Secretary of State is Stephen Crabb. Our revised guide to the Spring 2016 budget is available- click here. Book now our new Benefit Updater 2016 course.   
Neil Arnott - 01/04/2016
Caselaw has confirmed that drug dependancy or alcohol dependency may count as 'specific disease or bodily or mental disablement' and therefore towards passing the medical tests associated with ESA. For drug dependancy, the clients' condition needs to be classed as not mild but moderate / severe criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric...
Neil Arnott - 01/04/2016
The Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 introduces changes to the benefits system such as- 9. Review of benefit cap 10. Benefit cap: Social Security Advisory Committee 11. Freeze of certain social security benefits for four tax years 12. Freeze of certain tax credit amounts for four tax years 13. Changes to child tax credit 14. Changes to child element of universal credit...
Neil Arnott - 01/04/2016
The New State Pension is being Introduced for people reaching pensionable age on or after 6 April 2016. The pension is set at maximum of £155.65(but only 13% will receive this, the rest getting less). Generally it is often more generous than the current provision. To check on your/ you client's contribution record, complete a BR19 form or ring 0345 3000 168. The government has updated its...
Neil Arnott - 17/03/2016
Click here for your At a glance Guide to Benefit Changes in the Spring Budget 2016
Neil Arnott - 01/03/2016
New Dates announced for the Universal Credit Digital Service area expansion- Currently most areas in England and Wales accept new claims for Universal Credit. However, claims are only accepted from clients who are job seekers and have relatively 'simple claims'. The main exception to this is in parts of London('the Digital Service Area'). In the Digital Service Area, any type of new claim for...
Neil Arnott - 01/03/2016
The government said in response to the following question ... whether telephones with a direct connection to the universal credit helpline are available to use free of charge in every job centre. 'We no longer have customer access phones in Jobcentres. However, should a claimant need to use a telephone in connection with their claim or job search, they will be given access to a phone by their...
Neil Arnott - 01/03/2016
The Benefit cap is being reduced to- £20,000(yearly) in benefit (£13,400 for single adults with no dependent children) for clients outside of Greater London and £23,000 (£15,410 for single adults with no dependent children)for those in Greater London.   The new levels are now expected to launch from Autumn 2016 with roll- out completed by 2017.   The government has produced an estimate per...
Neil Arnott - 01/03/2016
The Social Security Advisory Committee would like to hear your views by 15/3/2016 on whether Mandatory Reconsideration is working well. They want to know how well the appeals function works,could the DWP improve the evidence and how it gathers that evidence before Mandatory Reconsideration, about the quality of decision making and whether DWP communication be improved.   We are worried...
Neil Arnott - 02/02/2016
The Work and Pensions Committee's report on the New State Pension has called on the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) to make urgent changes to the information they are sending to people reaching retirement age. This information relates to the new single tier pension from April 2016. Recommendations include- statements should be limited to one page in length; key messages should be...
Neil Arnott - 02/02/2016
quote code soc 205 Code valid until 14 2 2016 Join our Members' Area- reduced rate offer! (offer applies to renewals also) Click here for a form. We'd like to offer you the chance to join our members area now, for £59 plus VAT, instead of £95, for your team(up to 10 staff ) for one year. Please quote code soc205 to receive the reduced rate fee.   
Neil Arnott - 02/02/2016
Increased Numbers of claimants on on UC-175,000   click here for the full statistics.   Complaining about UC or JSA? Try this online method.   Free School Meals under UC '...consultation on eligibility for free school meals under Universal Credit later in 2016, with a view to having the necessary regulations in place for the end of the year, when the roll out of the full Universal Credit...
Neil Arnott - 02/02/2016
In a letter to the Work and Pensions Committee, the government has responded to concerns over sanctions-   '...automated sanction notifications for JSA and ESA were successfully reintroduced from Monday 23rd November 2015...' '...at the point of deciding to impose a sanction the Decision Maker will inform the Work Coach. The Work Coach will then attempt to contact the claimant...to arrange an...
Neil Arnott - 02/02/2016
Lord Freud has stated '...we will be exempting all recipients of carer’s allowance from the benefit cap, whether they are single or part of a couple.' The statement was made during a debate in the House of Lords on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill currently going through Parliament.  Book now for our new Benefit Updater 2016 course.   
Neil Arnott - 06/01/2016
News from a Large Housing Association- here's some of the problems experienced by one of the organisations we have provided training for- 'We currently have 596 tenants on UC. We have 3 local authorities paying UC DHP’s 3 different ways and none being able to send over a tenant reference. This is going to be a nightmare once all LA’s start paying DHP’s for UC. We have to guess who they...
Neil Arnott - 06/01/2016
Entitlement to Housing Benefit should continue without interruption during a sanction. In HB Bulletin U1/2015 the DWP guidance highlights- 'When a sanction is applied entitlement to benefits will continue but will not be payable for a fixed period of time. Claimants who are receiving passported HB should continue to do so without interruption when a sanction is applied.' Book now for our...
Neil Arnott - 06/01/2016
The government has said'...Personal Independence Payment is designed to ensure decisions on entitlement, award lengths and timing of reviews are appropriate and evidence-based. All ongoing awards, regardless of duration, will be reviewed periodically to ensure that the individual continues to receive the correct amount of benefit. Where we have sufficient evidence to do so, we will conduct a...
Neil Arnott - 06/01/2016
Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) is a short placement of work-related activity intended to help people on Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and Universal Credit claimants in the all work–related requirements group gain skills that are useful for work. It lasts for 30 hours per week for 4 weeks. Government statistics show us '...Since early 2013, the number of monthly referrals to MWA and the number of...
Neil Arnott - 06/01/2016
 
Neil Arnott - 02/12/2015
The government has abandoned some of the planned cuts to Tax Credits announced in the Summer Budget 2015.  Other cuts to tax credits will go ahead,  for example limiting the Tax Credits payable to two children for new births from April 2017 and not applying the family element for new claims also from this date. The government's Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015 proposes- Tax Credits:...
Neil Arnott - 02/12/2015
Rollout timetable amended- (new claims)'The government will begin the (national) rollout of the UC Digital Service in 2016, completing by 2021. This brings plans into line with recent assurance from the Major Projects Authority, and the OBR’s assumptions.' source- HM Treasury Spending Review and the Autumn Statement 2015. (old claims) The 'natural' migration of most existing claims are scheduled...
Neil Arnott - 02/12/2015
DWP Touchbase (Nov) magazine has highlighted a rule-   'Last year the domestic emergency rules were changed to allow people who had recently been made homeless time out from actively seeking work to focus on finding suitable accommodation... please encourage claimants to declare their housing status. This will enable Work Coaches to discuss with claimants the range of flexibilities available...
Neil Arnott - 02/12/2015
The government says it has reintroduced automated JSA and ESA sanction notifications from 23/11/2015.   If you feel that your client has been wrongly sanctioned,  then in most cases there is good reason provision in law that may allow the sanction to be challenged.  Challenge first by mandatory reconsideration and then if necessary an independent appeal. In the meantime your client can also ask...
Neil Arnott - 01/12/2015
Sent to us by a Benefits Adviser.   We would be interested to hear your views on this letter(click here) received by a client with mental health problems on ESA- 'Just received this appointment letter for one of our vulnerable clients for a group practice WFI at a JCP just wondered if you have encountered this practice as we think it is deplorable and unworkable for most of our clients.  Our...
Neil Arnott - 05/11/2015
Health Benefits and Universal Credit- 'so called cliff edges' introduced. Up until now anyone on Universal Credit would be entitled to health benefits. However, from 1/11/2015 a new law means that claimants above certain earnings thresholds will no longer be entitled- the lower threshold is £435 per month for those who do not have a child and/or limited capability for work (or limited capability...
Neil Arnott - 05/11/2015
The Government has again extended the expected date for migration of existing benefit claims to Universal Credit-'The NAO Welfare Reform Report on UC outlined that the bulk of existing benefit claims will be migrated to UC by 2020 with the exception of some tax credit and employment service allowance claims which would be migrated thereafter.   
Neil Arnott - 05/11/2015
Trusted partner pilots- expressions of interest are sought from landlords(by 13/11/2015)-the government has said it will extend the trusted partner pilot to 20 more social landlords- housing associations, stock owning LA s and ALMOs across England, Scotland and Wales. The aim of the UC Trusted Partner Pilot is to understand and assess the process where by social landlords identify vulnerable...
Neil Arnott - 05/11/2015
The latest statistics for ESA claims and appeals make interesting reading- Book Now on our Claiming as 'sick'- the WCA course taking place in November. Book Now on our Benefit Appeals course taking place in December.
Neil Arnott - 05/11/2015
There are changes coming soon to the Category A State Retirement Pension(based on a claimant's own national insurance record)- From 6/4/2016- ● 35 years of contributions will be required to achieve a full State Retirement Pension, 10 years will be the minimum to qualify for any. The new State Pension will be set above the minimum guarantee level for Pension Credit taking many claimants off...
Neil Arnott - 05/11/2015
Up until now anyone on Universal Credit would be entitled to health benefits. However, from 1/11/2015 a new law means that claimants above certain earnings thresholds will no longer be entitled- the lower threshold is £435 per month for those who do not have a child and/or limited capability for work (or limited capability for work related activity) element. The higher threshold is £935 per month...
Neil Arnott - 06/10/2015
The following table shows proposed work allowances(earnings disregards) contained in regulations which are due to come into affect on 11/4/2016. This represents a worsening of incentives (in most cases) to get into work for those on Universal Credit. Childless claimants who aren't sick no longer have any work allowance. £3.5 billion is aimed to be saved. See our online guide to £12.99 billion...
Neil Arnott - 06/10/2015
Latest Statistics on Personal Independence Payments(PIP), show that since PIP has started to replace Disability Living Allowance(DLA) since 2013, mandatory reconsiderations are often unsuccessful. This makes it even more important to encourage clients to then proceed to an appeal. Appeals have dropped by around 80% since mandatory reconsiderations were introduced. Other Statistics show...
Neil Arnott - 06/10/2015
The latest statistics on Universal Credit show us that the roll out of the benefit is gathering pace. At the start of September, 112,180 claimants were on Universal Credit. About 70% of this total are not in work and 30% are in work. Around 5,000 new claims are being made per week. Click here for our updated Universal Credit 2015 course taking place over the next few weeks.   
Neil Arnott - 06/10/2015
The government supports those with mortgage housing costs who are on Universal Credit, Income Support, JSA(income based), ESA(income related) or Pension Credit by including an amount in those benefits for mortgage housing costs. A standard reduced rate from July 2015 now applies of 3.12%(was 3.69%) of the outstanding eligible balance per year. Also set to apply for new claims from 1 /4 /2016,...
Neil Arnott - 06/10/2015
The upper permitted work earnings limit in IB, SDA and ESA will increase from £104 to £107.50 per week from 1/10/2015. The permitted work lower limit which allows paid work for an unlimited period, as long as a client does not earn more than £20 a week, remains at £20 per week. See our Claiming as 'sick'- the WCA course taking place in November.   
Neil Arnott - 17/09/2015
Thank you to the Welfare Benefits Adviser who sent us their experience of claiming Universal Credit. The claim was made in the digital service area in London where all types of claims are taken(not just single job seekers). It mentions the following topics that may be of interest to you- Claiming online Creating a username with security questions The 1st interview- direct pay to the...
Neil Arnott - 04/09/2015
A press release from CABx, says- 'People’s ability to live independently is at risk due to PIP failures. People are experiencing problems with every part of the PIP application process, causing a huge amount of stress and anxiety for those going through a very difficult time....ESA has proved a huge challenge with people complaining of problems with the application process, medical assessments...
Neil Arnott - 04/09/2015
A Housing Benefit circular has been issued explaining that a new guidance manual has been issued-   ''To take account of on-going feedback from local authorities(LAs) and stakeholders throughout the year, our Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) guidance manual issued in April 2014 has been revised. The guidance now includes an expanded good practice guide that offers advice on how DHPs can be...
Neil Arnott - 04/09/2015
'7 Waiting days'- these are now introduced from the start of UC claims for some claimants. Click here for some guidance from the DWP which covers exceptions and more details.   Tranche 3 starts to roll out - Haven't got Universal Credit yet? Tranche 1 and 2 have already rolled out so that half the country are now taking UC claims. Click here for a list of when tranches 3 and 4 will come on...
Neil Arnott - 04/09/2015
A government report shows that up to March 2015, 43,800 sanctions were imposed on Lone parents on Income Support'(typically a reduction in benefit of around £14 per week). During this period 652,000 work focussed interviews were carried out. The law says- Lone parents with a child under 5 may be able to claim income support. Those with children under 1 don't have to attend work focussed...
Neil Arnott - 04/08/2015
Join our Members' Area-reduced rate offer! (offer applies to renewals also)  We'd like to offer you the chance to join our members area now, for £59 plus VAT, instead of £95,http://file:/sites/default/files/files/Social%20Welfare%20Training%20Membership%20Application.docx for your whole team for one year. Please quote code soc201 to receive the reduced rate fee. Code valid until 18 8 2014....
Neil Arnott - 04/08/2015
The government has produced detailed estimates of the take-up of the main income-related benefifits in Great Britain for the fifinancial year 2013/14. Take up is the receipt of benefifits a claimant is entitled to. The report suggests take up is affected by '... factors such as the attractiveness of the benefifit, lack of awareness of the benefifit or application procedure, lack of awareness of...
Neil Arnott - 04/08/2015
Thank you to all those who attended our Universal Credit courses over the last few months. Here's a selection of some of the feedback you gave us on how your cases are proceeding- Alternative Payment Arrangements can take 4-6 weeks to process Data matching between the registered social landlord and UC doesn't always happen and notification that the client is on UC could be sent to the old...
Neil Arnott - 04/08/2015
The 2014/15 annual report from HM Courts & Tribunals Service relates to appeals to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal- 'This has been a year in which there has been significant volatility in workloads coming into the tribunal, with appeals falling by 80% following the government's welfare reforms... At the end of June 2013 the tribunal had 221,601 outstanding cases which reduced...
Neil Arnott - 08/07/2015
Click here for our at a glance Guide to Benefit Changes in the Summer Budget 2015.
Neil Arnott - 01/07/2015
The DWP has produced guidance (DMG Memo 17/15) on work related activity and substantial risk. The detailed guidance looks at- The UT decisions- Reported decisions [2013] AACR 32 and 33 and IM v SSWP [2014] UKUT 412, When should substantial risk be considered, Determining LCWRA, Mandatory reconsideration and appeals, What is substantial risk, Immediate substantial risk, Longer term...
Neil Arnott - 01/07/2015
The Start of reassessment of Long Term/ Indefinite PIP awards- the government has announced- 'the DWP will start to invite all remaining claimants from 13 July. This means people who currently have a long-term or indefinite award of DLA. We will do this gradually over a period of around two years, starting with people living in postcode areas beginning: BB; BL; DE; LE; M; OL; PR; ST; WA and...
Neil Arnott - 01/07/2015
7 day waiting period-  From 3/8/2015, a waiting day period of 7 days is introduced for Universal Credit claimants where the claimant(or either the claimant or their partner in a couple) are subject to all work-related requirements or have limited capability for work. This will mean that entitlement to benefits and the assessment period will not start until 7 days after the date of claim. Here's...
Neil Arnott - 30/06/2015
Over £23 billion of cuts in benefits were implemented in the last 5 years. A DWP study has shown the majority of councils are not spending their discretionary housing payment budget (leaving almost £7 million DHP funding unspent). However total spending on DHPs in GB was around 121% of the total allocation as other councils have chosen to top up their funds to above 100% of government allocation(...
Neil Arnott - 05/06/2015
For a free hard colour copy- Just send an A4 SAE with £0.74 postage to us at: 2015/2016  Benefit Rates Poster Social Welfare Training Limited 60 Strathmore Road, Horfield, Bristol BS7 9QJ. On the envelope please tell us whether you'd like an A2 or A3 colour copy and also your email address.   For our free benefit newsletter for professionals click here to subscribe. Click here for our updated...
Neil Arnott - 05/06/2015
The government has announced in the Queens Speech that many working age benefits won't be increased for the next 2 years and the benefit cap will be reduced from 26,000 to 23,000 per year. The Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill states- ' Working-age benefit freeze • The new legislation would freeze the main rates of the majority of working- age benefits, tax credits and Child Benefit for...
Neil Arnott - 05/06/2015
The DWP has said 'A single modernised service for post opening, scanning and indexing, known as the Agility Platform (which is part of the Department’s Infrastructure Modernisation Programme), is providing the capacity to scan and index post on receipt. Processing staff are then notified when a scanned image is available for action. The new scanning service provides a whole new way of working...
Neil Arnott - 05/06/2015
CLICK HERE for the map.   Most of the UK will soon be covered for 'early' migration claims for Personal Independence Payments. Click the map to view dates for migration for existing DLA claimants who will be 'invited' to claim PIP if - ●  the Department receives information about a change in their care or mobility needs; ●  their fixed term award is due to expire; ●  the claimant turns...
Neil Arnott - 05/06/2015
2014, At a glance Guide to Benefit Changes in the Autumn Statement December 2013, At a glance Guide to Benefit Changes in the March Budget 2015, At a glance Guide to Benefit Changes in the Autumn Statement December 2014, Benefit Cap Map up to December 2013, standard letters re PIP delays/ appeals/ mandatory reconsideration etc, ESA medical test guides, PIP legal test guides and PIP natural...
Neil Arnott - 12/05/2015
A report, What happened to poverty under the Coalition?,by the New Policy Institute has found- The median household income slightly increased in 2013/14 and 2014/15, following three years of falls. But at the bottom of the distribution incomes have continued to fall. Over the last two years the total number of people in poverty in the UK has increased by 800,000, from 13.2 to 14.0 million. This...
Neil Arnott - 12/05/2015
From 10/6/2015 the law changes so that EEA nationals who are jobseekers and their family members with a right to reside in the UK will no longer be treated as being habitually resident for the purposes of Universal Credit entitlement. This will include all allowances and elements(including the housing element) and effectively makes the rules tougher than for the current system which might allow...
Neil Arnott - 12/05/2015
Previous to 30/3/2015, a claimant who was found not to be sick(or the legal term would be 'limited capability for work') could reclaim ESA if it had been at least 6 months since that last decision. The law has changed from that date so that this is no longer possible. So if a client is found not to be sick (fails the limited capability for work test), then they will only be able to reclaim ESA at...
Neil Arnott - 12/05/2015
From 6/4/2015 people age 55 have more fexibility about what to do with their pension pot- perhaps buy a pension, take out a lump sum or set up 'fexible drawdowns'. How will this effect benefits? The government has produced a general factsheet and DWP guidance. Also HB guidance. If you are under State Pension Credit age then any income and capital you get from your pension would be taken into...
Neil Arnott - 12/05/2015
From this Winter onwards, people who live in European countries which have an average temperature above that of the UK, will no longer be entitled to Winter Fuel Payment. For example those living in France, Spain, Portugal and Italy will no longer qualify. Click here for the law and here for the guidance. Click here for our updated Introduction to Welfare Benefits 2015 course.  
Neil Arnott - 02/04/2015
The BBC has seen DWP documents during an investigation into where the earmarked £12billion in benefit cuts may be made-'Carer's Allowance - this could be restricted to those eligible for Universal Credit. Leaked documents suggest about 40% of claimants would lose out. DWP predicted saving - £1bn. The contributory element of Employment and Support Allowance and Job Seekers Allowance - currently...
Neil Arnott - 02/04/2015
Lord Freud, the Minister for Welfare Reform, has provided an interim response to a Social Security Advisory Committee's report on a proposed 7 day Universal Credit waiting period in which he states: 'I wish to consider fully the points you raised in your response before bringing forward the regulations. I will write to you in due course to update you on progress.' Accordingly, the government...
Neil Arnott - 02/04/2015
The government has said in its March stakeholder bulletin that it has improved the ESA50 which is used as part of the work capability assessment for ESA. 'Following the fourth independent review of the Work Capability Assessment, we have improved the ESA50 questionnaire. It now is clearer that evidence from care professionals such as community psychiatric nurses, support workers and carers can...
Neil Arnott - 02/04/2015
From Wednesday 25 February, contact numbers for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) claimants whose date of birth is on or before 8 April 1948 have changed- For those born on or before 8 April 1948 Telephone: 0345 605 6055 Telephone: 0845 605 6055 Textphone: 0345 604 5312 For those born on or after 9 April 1948 Telephone: 0345 712 3456 Telephone: 0845 712 3456 Textphone: 0345 722...
Neil Arnott - 05/03/2015
From 2 March 2015 single/ family claims, including those with children will be taken in those areas that rolled Universal Credit pre 2015. At the same time the major expansion of Universal Credit this year is rolling out in 4 tranches- Click here for tranche 1and2. Below are the recently released list of tranche 3 and 4 Local Authority areas. Tranche 3 – September 2015 – November 2015...
Neil Arnott - 05/03/2015
From 30/3/2015, the rule that allows a new claim for ESA after 6 months of being found to not be 'sick' has been removed. We had a recent query in our Members' Area about this- 'I was going through some older emails to refresh my knowledge and came across this one which states that there is a change that if someone applies for and fails ESA, they can no longer reapply once 6 months has elapsed...
Neil Arnott - 05/03/2015
The government has created a handy online toolkit about changes to the State Retirement Pension due in 2016. Clickhere to access resources including seven fact sheets, two videos, six infographics and photo case studies, an all-in-one ‘State Pension explained’ guide and guidance for employers and trustees on the end of contracting-out.  Click here for our new Benefits for Older People 2015 course...
Neil Arnott - 05/03/2015
It's that time of the year when the budgets for Discretionary Housing Payments are either overspent or commonly, underspent. We have been hearing from you in our training this week how some Local Authorities are encouraging last minute claims. Contact your Local Authority before April to see if there are any payments on offer. Click here for our updated Maximising Housing Benefit 2015 course.   
Neil Arnott - 05/03/2015
A New Policy Institute report has found- 70% of those affected by the Bedroom Tax have also seen their council tax support cut 380,000 families have been affected by the “Bedroom Tax” and 2.3 million families by council tax support cuts. 270,000 families have been affected by both. Council tax support cuts have affected six times as many people as the Bedroom Tax because any working-age...
Neil Arnott - 05/02/2015
The government has announced ‘tranche 2’ of the Local Authority Areas where Universal Credit will be rolled out by local Job Centre plus offices from May – July 2015-   Aberdeenshire Council, Ashfield District Council, Bournemouth Borough Council, Bridgend County Borough Council, Broxbourne Borough Council, Caerphilly County Borough Council, Castlepoint Borough Council, Charnwood Borough...
Neil Arnott - 05/02/2015
The Discretionary Housing Payment(DHP) budget(2015/2016) has been reduced by £40 million to £125million. The graph opposite shows how the money is allocated. Click here to see how much your Local Authority has been allocated. Local Housing Allowance Budget 2015/16. Click here for our updated Maximising Housing Benefit 2015 course. 
Neil Arnott - 05/02/2015
Please post consultancy queries in the discussion forum where we will help. Here's four of the latest posts- “changing over to PIP and effective date- when PIP is paid from and DLA stops” “permitted work earnings and hours rules” “eligible charges for HB” “ESA and PIP for University student” We have updated our Universal Credit Key Card and our 'At a glance Guide to Benefit...
Neil Arnott - 05/02/2015
From 23 February 2015, existing DLA claimants in areas with postcodes beginning AB, BB, BD, DD, DN, EX, HX, KA, KY, LS, PH, PL, PO, PR, S, SO, TS and WF will be 'invited' to claim PIP if - the Department receives information about a change in their care or mobility needs; their fixed term award is due to expire; the claimant turns 16; or the claimant wishes to make a PIP claim...
Neil Arnott - 06/01/2015
There are additional resources now available- ●  At a glance Guide to Benefit Changes in the Autumn Statement December 2014 ●  Social Welfare Training standard letter Form of Authorisation to Act ●  Social Welfare Training standard letter Requesting a Mandatory Reconsideration ●  Social Welfare Training standard letter Requesting an Appeal against DWP Decisions ●  Social Welfare Training...
Neil Arnott - 06/01/2015
It may be worthwhile getting in touch with your local authority to ensure that they are on track to spend their DHP budget this year. A government study has shown for the 6 month period April 2014- September 2014 that - ●  In 2014/15, the central government contributed £165 million to DHP funding ●  Of those LAs that submitted returns, the majority have reported spending less than 50% of...
Neil Arnott - 06/01/2015
The final report on the Direct Payment Demonstration projects has been released. The overall aim of the projects was to highlight key lessons and learning points in terms of the direct payment of Housing Benefit (HB) to feed into UC design ahead of its introduction; exploring the effects of direct payment on landlords and tenants; examining the effectiveness of the different types of support...
Neil Arnott - 06/01/2015
The Amounts that need to be paid to top up the State Pension have been set in law. This change will allow existing pensioners and those reaching State Pension age before 6 April 2016 the opportunity to gain additional State Pension by paying Class 3A Voluntary National Insurance contributions. There are two entitlement conditions – contributors must have entitlement to a UK State Pension and must...
Neil Arnott - 06/01/2015
  The post office account system will continue until at least November 2021. The accounts allow 'simple' banking facilities to about 2.5 million claimants and is particularly important for those who can't get access to a bank account. One disadvantage is that claimants can not set up direct debit facilities as they might with a normal bank or Credit Union account. Previously the government...
Neil Arnott - 03/12/2014
We are pleased to tell you that our guide to Benefit changes in today's Autumn Statement 2014 is now available. Please click on the link below.   Social Welfare Training's ‘at a glance guide' to Benefit Changes in the HM Treasury Autumn Statement 2014 changes affect- Universal Credit EU Migrants Bereavement Support Payment  Self Employment under Working Tax Credit Carers Allowance Employment...
Neil Arnott - 02/12/2014
The government has released some details about 73 new areas(Local Authority areas) that will start to take new claims for Universal Credit. Due to start in February 2015, and take around three months to phase in, Universal Credit will start to be taken in 'tranche 1' areas- Ashford, Barnsley, Basildon, Bassetlaw, Bedford, Birmingham, Boston, Brecklands, Brentwood, Calderdale, Chesterfield, City...
Neil Arnott - 02/12/2014
A new report has looked at the reasons for increasing the use of foodbanks. 'Emergency Use only' Has recently been produced by the Trussell Trust and is based on 40 in depth interviews. It found... 'between half and two thirds of the users from whom additional data was collected, the immediate trigger for food bank use was linked to problems with benefits (including waiting for benefits to be...
Neil Arnott - 02/12/2014
Earlier this year the government introduced an additional test that if a new job seeker had been on JSA for more than 6 months then they would need to show 'compelling evidence of a genuine prospect of work'. From November, the test will now be applied instead from 3 months. This measure risks affectively barring many new job seekers from JSA as there is already a 3 month wait for new arrivals...
Neil Arnott - 02/12/2014
Here's some useful info from the Minister for Disabled Mark Harper- Clients shouldn't have to travel more than 90 minutes on public transport. Also clients shouldn't be given only 1 days notice to attend. 'Under the guidance that we give assessment providers for journey times, no one should have to travel for more than 90 minutes on public transport to go to an assessment, so if that was what...
Neil Arnott - 12/11/2014
Click here and here for an example from the North West of a client who claimed Universal Credit and started a job soon after.    What can we tell from the assessments? He gets to keep a lot more of his wages under the Universal Credit system than under the current JSA/ Housing Benefit system. Client A’s date of claim was 8/9/2014 and their first assessment period runs from 8/9/2014- 7/10/...
Neil Arnott - 03/11/2014
Consultancy- There are recent posts in the discussion forum(consultancy)- PIP2 Claim form delays- claiming the disability element of working tax credits- Recently Married couple claiming separately- how to qualify for bus pass with PIP- PIP and learning disabilities- Polish man caught by new rules for HB right to reside. Resources- There is an updated version of the 'At a glance Guide to Benefit...
Neil Arnott - 03/11/2014
After a long wait your client wins their appeal and they are still considered 'sick'. However 3 weeks later the DWP call them for a new medical and start the process again. Is this correct? Yes, but normally not as quickly as this. The government has issued guidance which gives some protection against a very quick restarting of the assessment process. It has accepted Dr Paul Litchfield’s 4th...
Neil Arnott - 03/11/2014
In a press release the DWP has said- 'Claimants will soon be signing on using electronic pads in a move that will help to improve security, reduce fraud in the welfare system and make the jobseeking process paperless. At the same time, free wi-fi and 6,000 digital jobsearch computers will be installed at Jobcentre Plus sites across Britain to give claimants a new opportunity to search and...
Neil Arnott - 03/11/2014
The government has amended its guidance on when old cases of DLA will be reasessed under the new PIP regime. From 17/11/2014, areas with postcodes beginning: CH (Chester); HD (Huddersfield); L (Liverpool); and M (Manchester) will be 'invited' to claim PIP if - ●  the Department receives information about a change in their care or mobility needs; ●  their fixed term award is due to expire...
Neil Arnott - 03/11/2014
ATOS have lost the contract for the WCA(Work Capability Assessment) relating to ESA. From1/3/2015 an American private company will be responsible for the WCA medicals that your clients attend. The government has said in a statement that 'most of the Atos employees currently employed on this contract will transfer to MAXIMUS Health and Human Services Ltd; who will also use the existing Atos...
Neil Arnott - 03/10/2014
The government has issued guidance detailing when Universal Credit will start for further districts across the North West- No. 14 relevant districts from 15.9.14 BL9 7 L31 1 L31 4 L33 3 L37 0 L37 5 L37 9 L39 and L33 4 L40 0 and L40 1 L40 4 to L40 9 M24 0 to M24 2 M24 5 and M24 6 OL10 OL11 OL12 6 OL12 9 OL15 0 OL15 8 OL16 PR8 3 to PR8 5 PR9 8 WA11 7 WN8  No. 15 relevant...
Neil Arnott - 03/10/2014
From 27/10/2014, an extended waiting period at the start of a claim for ESA or JSA is being introduced. The new law will mean that no ESA or JSA would be paid for the first 7 'waiting days' instead of the present 3 days. Both types of ESA and also JSA are affected but not Housing Benefit. There is a fear than this extra cut will put further pressure on claimants. An impact assessment suggests- A...
Neil Arnott - 03/10/2014
Latest ESA figures show us a continuing rise in the number of claimants being placed in the support group rather than the work related activity group. October to December 2013 shows: 73 per cent of those making new claims were entitled to ESA. Within this 15% of claimants were placed in the Work Related Activity Group, and 58 per cent were placed in the Support Group; 27 per cent were assessed as...
Neil Arnott - 03/10/2014
Recent figures on the number of claimants appealing benefit decisions has shown a huge drop recently since the introduction of Mandatory Reconsiderations(October 2013). Our fears were that claimants would be put off appealing at the same time as funding for advice agencies, which support them, was being reduced. HMCTS tribunals recorded 74,400 receipts in the period April to June 2014. This is 71...
Neil Arnott - 03/10/2014
The government has said that the lengthy wait to get a decision on PIP(often one year), should now be a thing of the past! 'By the autumn, we expect no one to be waiting for an assessment for longer than 26 weeks and by the end of the year, we expect no one will be waiting longer than 16 weeks.' And that online claims might be available in the future- '..part of our longer term plan is to...
Neil Arnott - 03/10/2014
Latest official news on PIP tells us- ● On the 31st July 2014, 106,000 people had a PIP claim in payment. ● Of all new-claim decisions 55% lead to PIP being awarded. In some areas DLA claims are being reassessed. The government estimate 25% of DLA claimants(that's 500,000 claimants) will lose their DLA and not get any PIP. Early indications are that this may happen- ● For reassessment...
Neil Arnott - 17/09/2014
Remember to advise your clients to claim short term benefit advances where appropriate. The government has said - 'The total volume of Short Term Benefit Advance (STBA) applications received from April 2013 to March 2014 was around 313,000. This figure relates to JSA, ESA, IS and IB applications only. Of these applications, around 90,000 received an immediate payment of benefit. Of the remaining...
Neil Arnott - 16/09/2014
We'd like to share this with you- Hi. It is definitely worthwhile contacting your local MP. I helped a client apply for PIP last October. Finally resolved last week. Atos refused an interpreter for a home assessment. Even though this was requested on the form. A long running battle between me and Atos then began. I got so fed up with Atos that I asked an MP for support. They contacted Atos and a...
Neil Arnott - 16/09/2014
We would like to share with you a recent query regarding restrictions in Housing Benefits.   You have just explained- Your client,  who is on ESA(support group,  and is awaiting a PIP claim decision) has a three bedroom house where she lives with her daughter,  18,  and son ,  26,  both on JSA(IB).  The bedroom tax has just been imposed.  Is this correct?     Answer-  I think there might...
Neil Arnott - 09/09/2014
Changes to the way clients challenge Benefit decisions were introduced in October 2013. This included having to go for a 'Mandatory Reconsideration' (but not for Housing Benefit decisions) before being allowed to appeal. Another change was having to send an appeal directly to the Appeals Service(HMCTS- Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service), called direct lodgement. You are telling us that...
Neil Arnott - 09/09/2014
£billions of Welfare Benefits are unclaimed each year. A detailed report on this topic has been released by Inclusion. It covers issues such as trends in benefit take-up, key factors affecting take-up and the impact and design of take-up initiatives. Conclusions about possible best practise include- ●  'Reducing complexity by simplifying the language and content of benefit application forms...
Neil Arnott - 09/09/2014
Further information has emerged from EsterMcVey, Minister of State(DepartmentforWorkandPensions), about Zero hours contracts. In our June newsletter we explained how the government said that JSA claimants won't be expected to apply for zero hours contract jobs. Also that under Universal Credit, the government said that ''We expect claimants to do all they reasonably can to look for and move into...
Neil Arnott - 04/09/2014
thanks to Nigel Wicks Welfare Benefits Officer at Southdown Housing for this-  Dear all, Over the past few months, we have all read updates on unacceptable delays in the PIP process so I thought I would share a story too. One of my clients applied for PIP which was received 26/02/2014. Recently, she contacted PIP to find out what was happening. PIP passed the client back to Atos. On contacting...
Neil Arnott - 11/08/2014
Matthew Oakley has carried out a structured report on the working of JSA sanctions. Many of you have been explaining how your clients are often left without money for weeks or months because of sanctions. The report found problems with complex and difficult to understand letters, claimants having a poor understanding of their responsibilities under the Work Programme and clients first finding out...
Neil Arnott - 11/08/2014
Please post consultancy queries in the discussion forum where we will help. Here's four of the latest posts- “should son stay as part of mum's claim?” “Needing a bank account- HB refusing to pay by cheque” “Profoundly Deaf client and ESA” “carer no longer counted as carer as disabled persons DLA has gone down” Other up to date resources already in our members area include...
Neil Arnott - 11/08/2014
The 11 new trials are due to begin in September 2014. They will be led by partnerships between jobcentres and LAs from across Great Britain, to look at the best way to prepare claimants for the world of work; by helping them with online access and digital support, and managing their finances on a monthly basis. Each trial will be different, tailored to local needs and LAs will be supported by...
Neil Arnott - 11/08/2014
Lord Feud has given some detail around the treatment of voluntary work under Universal Credit(which are slightly more generous than those under Job Seekers Allowance)- 'For Universal Credit claimants, advisers will be able to reduce a claimant’s expected hours of worksearch and work preparation activities by up to 50 per cent in order to accommodate voluntary work. However the claimant can...
Neil Arnott - 08/07/2014
We have added 3 up to date at a glance guides to our Members' area; the Work Capability Assessment 'Descriptors, Exemptions and Exceptions' for the two main medical tests(9 and 5 pages long) and also an at a glance glance guide to Personal Independence Payment Activity Descriptors and Definitions(8 pages long). The checklists can be copied for use with your clients. Other up to date resources...
Neil Arnott - 08/07/2014
The Public Accounts committee has recommended urgent action-Penalty clauses (service credits) should be invoked where necessary, clear the backlog of claims before the extension of natural migration across the country, take measures to ensure claimants are kept up to date, ensure a processing target of 7 days for claims from the terminally ill, establish a mechanism for expediting claims from...
Neil Arnott - 08/07/2014
The Government are consulting on what the target should be for 'persistent child poverty'(where a child has lived in a household in relative poverty for 3 out of the last 4 years). They favour a figure of 7% and would like you to email your views.   The Child Poverty Act 2010 requires the Government to set a persistent child poverty target through Regulations by December 2014. This will be in...
Neil Arnott - 08/07/2014
The Pensions Act 2014 has put in place changes to the State Retirement Pension for those who reach retirement age from 6/4/2016. Key differences compared to the current system- 35 years of contributions will be required to achieve a full State Retirement Pension,  10 years will be the minimum to qualify for any. The new State Pension will be set above the minimum guarantee level for Pension...
Neil Arnott - 08/07/2014
The government has released figures to show what councils gave discretionary housing payments for in 2013/14.  The budgets in Scotland and Wales were overspent but in England 231 out of 316 authorities did not spend their budgets.       Click here for our new Benefit Updater Course- Falling through the Safety Net that gives you an opportunity to keep up to date and discuss all these issues...
Neil Arnott - 13/06/2014
PIP will potentially mean more work for you and a possible reduction in your clients' income. The government (Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 12 June 2014, c249W) has given predictions about when Personal Independence Payment(PIP) claims will peak. 2016 is likely to be the busiest year for you and your clients in terms of completing forms and attending medicals. You might also then be helping...
Neil Arnott - 02/06/2014
Get ready for Universal Credit.  We have just unveiled our new Universal Credit Calculator in our members area.  Features of the calculator- Give your clients a clear idea of how much Universal Credit they should be due in any assessment period Friendly 'visual' format Prompts to help you build expertise  Updated by us over time as Law and practise changes Print screen option All...
Neil Arnott - 02/06/2014
Thank you to Joe Power, our Welfare Benefits solicitor,  for supplying another avenue to explore in dealing with delays to the administration of PIP claims.  We have mentioned in previous newsletters about complaining initially to the DWP and  ATOS/ CAPITA and then contacting your client's MP.  Joe has suggested writing directly to the solicitors at the DWP- Department for Work and Pensions  ...
Neil Arnott - 02/06/2014
Zero Hours Contracts- JSA claimants won't be expected to apply for zero hours contract jobs.  In a policy change, under Universal Credit, the government has said that ''We expect claimants to do all they reasonably can to look for and move into paid work.  If a claimant turns down a particular vacancy (including zero-hours contract jobs) a sanction may be applied, but we will look into the...
Neil Arnott - 02/06/2014
The Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, Dame Anne Begg MP, has commented that there may be an increased risk of fraud with Universal Credit housing costs 'Through the use of RTI—real-time information on PAYE earnings—Universal Credit has the potential over the longer term to substantially reduce fraud and error in the benefits system. However, this could be seriously undermined because of...
Neil Arnott - 02/06/2014
At present claimants need to wait 3 days before either Job Seekers Allowance(JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance(ESA) is paid.  The government is thinking of extending this to a 7 day wait from October 2014. The average loss in benefit  '.. at the start of each award will be £40 for JSA claimants and £50 for ESA claimants.', according to the DWP.   As many of you are experiencing, clients...
Neil Arnott - 06/05/2014
Universal Credit claims are now being taken in Shotton, North Wales, from single, childless claimants who are looking for work and don't have mortgage costs. This is the tenth pathfinder area to start taking claims- others are Tameside, Wigan, Oldham, Warrington, Hammersmith, Rugby, Inverness, Harrogate and Bath. Claims from couples are due to start soon in Greater Manchester. Get ready for...
Neil Arnott - 06/05/2014
Conditionality is what a claimant needs to do to keep their benefit. From 28/4/2014 theLaw has changed (here's the guidance) to increase that conditionality. Interviews- For lone parents on income support with a child aged between 1 and 5, instead of work focussed interviews at regular intervals, the frequency and length of their interviews will be determined by advisers and so could be more...
Neil Arnott - 06/05/2014
Thank you for all those of you who attended the Personal Independence Payment(PIP) 2014 courses recently (open and in house courses). We'd like to share a few of the points during the many interesting discussions that were had- Key Aims- many of you noted one of the key aims of PIP was to save money. Some key statistics to feedback to your staff meetings were that around 1 in 4 currently on PIP...
Neil Arnott - 06/05/2014
Sanctions have risen in the last year. During the same session(see above) with the Scottish Parliament's Welfare Reform Committee, Neil Couling, was asked whether he could '...categorically tell us that you are not driving a target to have a set proportion of people going through the system who have to be sanctioned?'and replied'... Yes—exactly.... We want people to be sanctioned appropriately;...
Neil Arnott - 06/05/2014
As reported in our last newsletter, the government is ending ATOS's delivery of the Work Capability Assessment for ESA 6 months early - this is now known to be from February 2015. The government is yet to appointment are placement contractor but they are expected to employ the staff and perform the role of ATOS. See our Claiming as 'sick'- the WCA course taking place soon.  
Neil Arnott - 06/05/2014
Charities have, for some time, suggested that the rise in the use of food banks is in large part down to Benefit cuts, delays in Benefit payments and sanctions. Food banks have produced evidence from their users about why they have asked for help and benefits cuts have been given as a leading reason. Here's a recent report from CABx in Scotland. The DWP have refuted this. DWP Work Services...
Neil Arnott - 16/04/2014
We have heard from one of our subscribers in East Anglia,  about a case concerning a disabled couple who could not share a bedroom because of disability.  The tribunal allowed the extra bedroom saying '"It was accepted that they are partners but also that because of their disability they cannot share a bedroom. While the tribunal noted that a couple under the regulations are allocated a room,...
Neil Arnott - 15/04/2014
We are now taking orders for our popular colour Weekly Beneft Rates Posters 2014–15. Costs per poster are £4 for A3 size and £6 for A2 size (plus a total of £2.25 postage for all orders). The posters include the latest rates for Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments, Tax Credits and Housing Benefts, as well as the Beneft Cap. Email us with details of your order and address for the...
Neil Arnott - 03/04/2014
Latest figures show -Of the 144,000 benefit cases disposed of in October to December 2013; 64% were for ESA; 14% for JSA and 11% for Disability Living Allowance. In October to December 2013, 84% of all SSCS cases were cleared at a hearing, slightly higher than last year. Of these the overturn rate was 40%, i.e. 40% had the initial decision revised in favour of the claimant. This has increased...
Neil Arnott - 03/04/2014
Thank you for all those of you who attended the Benefit Updater 2014 courses recently (open and in house courses). We'd like to share a few of the points during the many interesting discussions that were had- Debt- is becoming an increasingly common feature of all households on benefit as increases in basics such as food and fuel have increased above inflation and multiple benefit cuts can often...
Neil Arnott - 03/04/2014
The system of mandatory revisions before appeal is being introduced for tax credit decisions from April 2014 onwards. Clients should not be put off appealing, but instead just need to ask for a mandatory revision/ reconsiderationwhichisaninternalreviewconductedbyHMRC. Iftheclientisstillnothappytheycanthengofor an independent appeal. Click here for our new Benefit Appeals course 2014. HMRC are...
Neil Arnott - 03/04/2014
There is new guidance on what amounts to 'exempt accommodation' for benefit rules and therefore affects which clients may be exempt from many of the main welfare reform changes. There are now four categories of supported housing that are included in the new definition of 'specified accommodation' being introduced. The first is what is already familiar- 'Exempt accommodation', the other three are...
Neil Arnott - 03/04/2014
So which contract have ATOS lost? ATOS have lost the contract for the Work Capability Assessment(WCA- the medical tests for Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit). Why? The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Mike Penning) has said this is due to 'significant quality failures in the written reports produced by Atos following assessments.' When will this happen?...
Neil Arnott - 18/03/2014
CLICK HERE for our guide to Benefit Changes in the Budget 2014. CLICK HERE for our at a glance guide to Benefit Changes in the Autumn Statement 2013.   CLICK HERE for the full Budget Statement 2014.   Next month we will be sending out our 2014/15 Weekly Benefit Rates poster to all our subscribers- subscribe to the free newsletter click here.  If you would like to unsubscribe, click here.  Follow...
Neil Arnott - 03/03/2014
Bedroom Tax- MA and others [2013] EWHC 2213(QB)- Judicial Reviews in the High Court and further appeal to the Court of Appeal. These cases concern disabled people who are affected in various ways- an adult couple who have to sleep in separate bedrooms because of their disability (the Carmichaels), tenants who need the room to store disability equipment, a tenant with mental health problems...
Neil Arnott - 03/03/2014
From 3/3/2014 the government has changed the law and closed the bedroom tax loophole that we explained in the last edition of this newsletter. Although some clients may be due arrears, they will be caught again and should be advised accordingly. Clients should be advised to contact their council to pursue any arrears due for the period 1/4/2013- 2/3/2014. They should request an any time revision...
Neil Arnott - 03/03/2014
If a client does not attend and participate in their ESA medical then their beneft will be stopped unless they can show 'good cause'. The law doesn't defne this. Extra guidance to DWP decision makers has been issued. Of help may be para. 4- 'failure to provide supporting evidence is not of itself a reason for refusing to accept that good cause was shown.', para. 5 'whether the stated health...
Neil Arnott - 03/03/2014
The first statistics on PIP claims are out.  The figures show that on new claims nearly two thirds are turned down.  If those on the grounds of terminal illness are included then the figure is around a half.   From April 2013- December 2013,  229,700 claims were started and only 34,200 decisions made(plus 9,600 special rules claims that were allowed).  We are awaiting more details on the reasons...
Neil Arnott - 03/03/2014
Click on the map to view where the Benefit Cap is hitting hardest.   Latest statistics about the Benefit Cap show ‘Since the introduction of the benefit cap on 15th April 2013 to December 2013: Over 36,400 households had their housing benefit capped. 47% of households affected by benefit cap were found in London. Of the top 20 Local Authorities with the highest number of households affected by...
Neil Arnott - 05/02/2014
Mike Penning,  MP,  has given a little more information on delays to PIP- where to complain further 'Claimants are directed to raise complaints directly with the provider. If the claimant remains dissatisfied after completing the provider's complaints process they will be able to escalate their complaint directly to the Independent Case Examiner's service (ICE). The ICE will investigate a...
Neil Arnott - 05/02/2014
Higher work allowances have a positive impact on work incentives allowing a claimant to keep more of their earnings before Universal Credit starts to be reduced. Lord Freud has said in response to questions by Baroness Grey -Thompson that work allowances won't be introduced for second earners in a household due to complexity. '...We believe that investing in higher work allowances that benefit...
Neil Arnott - 05/02/2014
Esther McVey'There are no plans to produce a paper version of the Universal Credit application form.' And 'former Vodafone director of global online Kevin Cunnington to lead the development of our digital service and will be recruiting around 50 IT specialists.' Click here for our updated Universal Credit 2014 course.
Neil Arnott - 05/02/2014
Bedroom Tax- Pre 1996 claims- Arrears of Housing Beneft should now be due to perhaps 40,000 households. Transitional protection should have applied, meaning that the bedroom tax was wrongly implemented for some households. Those affected(HB U1/2014) are where- ● they have been continuously entitled to HB since at least 1 January 1996 and occupied the same dwelling since that date. except for-...
Neil Arnott - 05/02/2014
A report by the Work and Pensions Committee has found- 'Sanctions- Evidence suggests that JCP staff have referred many claimants for a sanction inappropriately or in circumstances in which common sense would dictate that discretion should have been applied. A limited independent review of sanctioning has been established by DWP. The Committee recommends that there should be a separate, broader...
Neil Arnott - 30/01/2014
Personal Independence Payments(PIP) started for new claimants last year, but when does the roll out of the reassessment old claims start? Well it has in some areas- click on the map to show dates o fthe commencement of natural migration. This affects those turning age 16 or where their DLA is a fixed term award coming to an end or where they volunteer to move to PIP early or there is a change in...
Neil Arnott - 28/01/2014
There's been some confusion over whether the Benefit Cap rate for childless couples was reducing in 2014/15 from £2167monthly (£500 weekly) to £1517 monthly (£350 weekly).  Steve Webb has apologised for misleading the House of Commons and explained the rates will remain as per 2013/2014.  
Neil Arnott - 21/01/2014
The DWP have stated that from 19/1/2014 online claims for Attendance Allowance and DLA(children) will cease.  This is because of '...new browser and operating systems now exist which are not compatible with this online system...'(and)...'the low number of customers using it...'. In the meantime claims can be made by telephone and by downloading the pdf from the gov.uk website. Confusingly,  the...
Neil Arnott - 19/01/2014
Please click here for our at a glance guide to Benefit Changes in the Autumn Statement 2013. Here's a link to the full statement. To subscribe free to our newsletter click here.
Neil Arnott - 09/01/2014
Advisers have been in touch with us about delays in decisions on PIP. In one case, despite complaints, a decision on a claim has still not been made when ATOS carried out a medical 5 months ago(the DWP have still not got the paperwork back from ATOS). Mike Penning MP, Minister of State for Disabled People, has given details on how PIP is proceeding- ●  30 days is the time limit for 97% of cases...
Neil Arnott - 09/01/2014
The government have launched a small pilot in 6 areas to highlight fraud. Methods include posters, newspaper adverts, Facebook adverts and letters to claimants – urging people to report suspected beneft fraud or changes to their circumstances. Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said 'It is only a small minority who commit fraud – but it costs the country over £1bn a year.' The 6 pilot...
Neil Arnott - 09/01/2014
The Benefit Cap- statistics- Since the introduction of the Beneft Cap on 15th April 2013 to October 2013: • Almost 28,500 households had their Housing Beneft capped. • 47% of households affected by beneft cap were found in London. • Of the top 20 Local Authorities with the highest number of households affected by the beneft cap, only 2 were not in London. These were Birmingham and...
Neil Arnott - 09/01/2014
We have had questions from you at our Universal Credit training recently about how zero hours contracts will affect entitlement to JSA and Universal Credit. The DWP have stated that JSA claimants-'are not required to apply for zero hours contract vacancies and they will not face sanctions for turning down the offerofazerohourscontract.' HoweverforUniversalCreditclaimantsthis appears to be...
Neil Arnott - 07/01/2014
Soon we will be sending out a draft copy of our Weekly Benefit Rates Poster 2014– 15 to all our newsletter subscribers. To ensure you get a free copy, subscribe here.   
Neil Arnott - 13/12/2013
The government has stated that it will be developing two separate IT systems for Universal Credit.  It is also unclear about how long this will continue. 'Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the written statement of 5 December 2013, on universal credit, for how long he envisages developing two separate universal credit IT systems; and if he will make a...
Neil Arnott - 13/12/2013
First stats on Universal Credit show only a few thousand on the benefit. From April 2013- Sept 2013- 2150 claimed Unviersal Credit. In areas this was- Oldham 510 Tameside 550 Warrington Unitary Authority 380 Wigan 520 Other / Unknown / Missing 70   
Neil Arnott - 03/12/2013
Carers allowance can now be claimed online, as can JSA and Universal Credit. To maximise benefit, claims should be made as soon as possible. This is to secure a date of claim. Benefit rules vary but generally benefit is paid from this date. Often a client is advised online to make sure they have a checklist of information before they claim. As the ability to claim online rises, it’s important...
Neil Arnott - 03/12/2013
Further pathfinder areas have come on line for the start of Universal Credit. Relatively ‘straight forward’ claims will be taken from clients in Rugby andInverness. A DWPpress release has said that claims are being accepted on line; ‘most people are claiming it on line and the IT is working well...’. Harrogate, Bath and Shotton are due to start in Spring 2014. The first DWP survey of UC...
Neil Arnott - 03/12/2013
Last year our newsletters mentioned the tougher sanctions regimes introduced for JSA (October 2012) and ESA(December 2012). The first report on the operation of these sanctions has been released by the DWP. Key statistics for October 2012 up until June 2013 are– ‘Under the new sanctions regime, introduced on 22nd October 2012, a total of 1.35 million sanction decisions have been made up to June...
Neil Arnott - 03/12/2013
New regulations have been issued regarding exemptions to the size criteria in the social rented sector(the bedroom tax) for both HB and UC from 4/12/2013. Guidance has been issued for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit. The main parts introduced for Universal Credit are where the size restriction won’t apply- an overnight carer provides regular overnight care(the renter needs to both be...
Neil Arnott - 05/11/2013
DWP guidance has given a useful example of what you should advice your client to claim whilst they challenge a decision that they are no longer ‘sick‘- ‘An ESA claimant attends a WCA and the DM subsequently determines that they do not have LCW. The award is superseded so as to end entitlement to ESA. The claimant disputes the decision and asks for a reconsideration. No pending appeal  award of...
Neil Arnott - 05/11/2013
A DWP report in October 2013 has given the latest figures for allowance/ disallowance for ESA  new claims.  · 58 per cent of claimants were entitled to Employment and Support Allowance. Within this – · 24 per cent of claimants were placed in the Work Related Activity Group, and · 34 per cent of claimants were placed in the Support Group; · 42 per cent of claimants were assessed as Fit For Work....
Neil Arnott - 05/11/2013
Further pathfinder areas have come on line for the start of Universal Credit.  Relatively ‘straight forward’ claims will be taken from clients whose postcodes begin with the following codes from 28/10/2013-  M35 5,  W6 0,  W6 6 to W6 9,   W14 0,  W14 4,  W14 8,   and W14 9. Click here for our new  Housing Costs– Universal Credit– Welfare Reform course.  
Neil Arnott - 05/11/2013
The government say 80% of claims for Job Seekers Allowance(JSA) are now made online.  Over 4 million claimants have also registered for Universal Jobmatch to search for jobs online. Click here for our updated Introduction to Welfare Benefits 2014 course.      
Neil Arnott - 05/11/2013
Guidance has been issued by the DWP with some details on how mandatory revision and the appeal after will work.  A client has one month after the decision to request a mandatory revision(or up to 13 months is reasons  special reasons are given).  The advice states,  if late,   the revision can still go ahead if- ‘…. the person is able to  explain why their application for a revision is late and...
Neil Arnott - 24/10/2013
The government has issued regulations which alter the dates when natural migration will take for claimants of DLA to PIP. Originally set for the start of October 2013,  then moved to the end,  the government now state that natural migration will only begin when they are ready.  There will be a phased introduction,  with further specific details yet to be announced.         '7.6 The Department’s...
Neil Arnott - 11/10/2013
  Lord Sterling,  Chairman of the Board of Governors,  of the Motability Scheme has stated-   'DWP has already announced that they will allow DLA payments to continue for four weeks after they make their decision regarding PIP.  In addition to this, the Scheme will allow customers to retain their vehicle for up to a further 3 weeks from the date the DLA payments end.  The customer will...
Neil Arnott - 10/10/2013
There are new appeal rules for DWP decisions from 28/10/2013.  Clients can no longer go straight to appeal but will have to ask for a revision from the DWP initially and then will be required to appeal directly to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) .  Time limits for both requests are 1 month which can be extended for up to 13 months for special reasons.  There will be time limits...
Neil Arnott - 10/10/2013
The roll out of Personal Independence Payment(PIP) for existing claimants of     Disability Living Allowance(DLA) is now scheduled from 28/10/2013.  This should affect claimants of DLA who either reach 16 ,  are due renewal of their award or have a change of circumstance after this date.  This coincides with a consultation on the criteria for the enhanced rate of the Mobility Component and could...
Neil Arnott - 10/10/2013
It seems that large amounts of money have been spent on the Universal Credit computer systems that can not be recouped. The Guardian reports ‘Mike Driver, the finance director general of the department, confirmed that the costs could be as much as £161m, while Norma Wood, the head of the Major Projects Authority, agreed that the system would have to write off at least £140m.  Margaret Hodge, the...
Neil Arnott - 10/10/2013
The DWP has issued guidance and said it intends to appeal against 2 judgements by First Tier Benefit Tribunals that found that the bedroom tax did not apply ’…. because the judge determined that the rooms did not satisfy the “space standard” as set out in section 326 of the Housing Act 1985 and section 137 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 which is used to assess statutory overcrowding. ‘ In the...
Neil Arnott - 10/10/2013
If your client  is terminally ill then there is a new  address to send DS1500 reports – freepost RTEU-HXBG-YTST Personal Independence Payment 10 Mail Handling Site A,  Wolverhampton  WV98 1AE Click here for our Personal Independence Payment 2013 course which explains this, and other issues, in detail.          
Neil Arnott - 03/09/2013
Course programme
Neil Arnott - 03/09/2013
The Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) has responded to the government’s consultation on the reduction of the PIP enhanced mobility qualifying condition from 50 metres to 20 metres.   It ‘urges the Government to go further still by considering in more detail the impact on unpaid carers, the potential shift of costs to other areas (for example employers, health service and social care etc...
Neil Arnott - 03/09/2013
From 19/7/2013 there will be no further cheque payments issued by the DWP.  Instead,  most payments will be made into a bank,  building society,  credit union or post office account.  If your client does not have these then they will be able to get payments via the ‘Simple Payment’ system which is seen as more secure.  Click here for our Introduction to Welfare Benefits 2013 course.      
Neil Arnott - 03/09/2013
Ian Duncan Smith has given more details on the roll out of Universal Credit from October 2013.  'Today we set out the next stage of the roll-out for universal credit following the successful launch of the pathfinder in Greater Manchester, on time earlier this year.  Starting from October, the national roll-out will be comprised of three strands. First, across all jobcentres we will roll out...
Neil Arnott - 03/09/2013
The benefit cap is now in place in 340 local authority areas across the country and will be completed in the remaining 40 areas by the end of September 2013. This HB circular contains more information.   An overview of some of the big changes this year is included in our for our Introduction to Welfare Benefits 2013 course.      
Neil Arnott - 03/09/2013
Since 29/7/2013 all four pathfinder areas in the North West of England are now taking relatively ‘simple’ claims for Universal Credit; Ashton-under-Lyne, Wigan, Warrington and Oldham. The government has estimated that 7,000 Universal Credit claims in the four pathfinder areas will be processed ahead of the national roll out in October.  There are some fears that this will not leave enough time to...
Neil Arnott - 11/08/2013
Ian Duncan Smith has given more details on the roll out of Universal Credit from October 2013. 'Today we set out the next stage of the roll-out for universal credit following the successful launch of the pathfinder in Greater Manchester, on time earlier this year. Starting from October, the national roll-out will be comprised of three strands. First, across all jobcentres we will roll out...
Neil Arnott - 11/08/2013
A few more details on the proposed waiting period of 7 days for those claiming Universal Credit announced in the Spending ReviewJune 2013. 'The waiting period will be applied to the whole Universal Credit award but will only be introduced for claimants who we expect to work and who have full work-related requirements.' Hansard source (Citation: HL Deb, 10 July 2013, c64W) See our Universal Credit...
Neil Arnott - 11/08/2013
The Welfare Cap will start in 2014/15 and will mean spending on the overall benefits bill will be limited.  In effect most benefits will be cut year on year.   Here's a little more detail- 'Housing benefit, tax credits, disability benefits and pensioner benefits will all included, but some benefits will be excluded, including the basic state pension and the additional state pension.'  Hansard...
Neil Arnott - 11/08/2013
We have been receiving positive news over the last few weeks from groups about the claim process for the new benefit Personal Independence Payment(PIP).  In Wigan, part of the intial pilots,  initally the first phonecall to make a claim and answer the non disability questions(PIP1 form) over the telephone took 45 minutes in one instance(slowness of the computers).  Since then a local authority...
Neil Arnott - 11/07/2013
The government is still to decide the rules of passporting for free school meals under Universal Credit. David Laws has stated that whatever rules are brought in will not mean that any of the 600,000+ clients who get free school meals will be worse off under Universal Credit.  This includes 'Around 50,000 families with children in receipt of free school meals have net earnings of above £135 a...
Neil Arnott - 05/07/2013
A press release from Lord Freud brings welcome news to many landlords and  tenants worrying about direct payment of benefit to tenants. Under Universal Credit the first payment of benefit will be one week after the initial assessment period of 1 month, at the earliest.   This would seem to imply that many tenants in the social rented sector may be able to get direct payments as many may have rent...
Neil Arnott - 01/07/2013
The government has estimated that 7,000 Universal Credit claims in the four pathfinder areas will be processed ahead of the national roll out in October.  There are some fears that this will not be enough to iron out faults in the system.Hansard 27 Jun 2013 : Column 376W  
Neil Arnott - 01/07/2013
The government has announced that there will be an exemption from 'The Real Time' information for small employers of less than 50 staff until April 2014.  The system is a corner stone of Universal Credit and is meant to make a smooth transition between in and out of work and increasing or decreasing wages.  Until the system operates smoothly claimants would have to declare their change in wages...
Neil Arnott - 01/07/2013
Croatia joins the European Union on 1/7/2013.  Croatian nationals will face the strict version of the right to reside test that currently applies to nationals of A2 countries (Bulgaria and Romanians).  It will not be enough to be a work seeker to claim means tested benefits.  Claimants will usually have to be to be employed in one of a very  restricted list of occupations or be self employed to...
Neil Arnott - 01/07/2013
The Benefit Cap(not to be confused with the Welfare Cap above) will be rolled out nationally from 15/7/2013 to the end of September 2013.  Remember that receipt of the following benefit by someone in the benefit household may help prevent the cap being applied-  Disability living Allowance,  Attendance Allowance,  Personal Independence Payment ,  The support component of Employment and Support...
Neil Arnott - 01/07/2013
George Osborne has announced further tough changes to Welfare Benefits.  (Spending ReviewJune 2013). · Introduce, for the first time, an overall limit on Benefit spending;  a Welfare Cap.  This will restrict the amount of the overall Benefit bill to around £100 billion per year excluding State Retirement Pension and some benefits that are ‘cyclical’(recession related) such as Jobseekers Allowance...
Neil Arnott - 26/06/2013
The government has launched a new  6 week consultation(ending on 5/8/2013) about  whether descriptor 2 of the  PIP Mobility Component should be changed.  Descriptor 2 , or  the ‘moving around’ criteria, allows points to be awarded according to the ability to walk a certain distance.  It is stricter than the equivalent higher rate mobility test under DLA.  On a simple level,  it cuts the distance...
Neil Arnott - 16/06/2013
The figures below give the government estimated value of the contracts to deliver PIP.  Atos have been awarded around 2/3 of the contracts.  Hansard Contract name Start date End date Estimated contract value (£) Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Assessment Service (Lot 1) 31 July 2012 30 July 2017 206,703,507 Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Assessment...
Neil Arnott - 16/06/2013
The government has again confirmed their policy that the Work Capability Assessment carried out by ATOS can be recorded.  A request for this needs to be made in advance.  Some clients have complained about the inaccuracy of reports and what was said during them. 'The present policy is that claimants can ask for their assessments to be recorded, either by means of the service offered by the...
Neil Arnott - 16/06/2013
The government have estimated that the cost to the tax payer to introduce the new benefit Universal Credit this year is £2billion,  and that 21% of that budget has been spent so far.  They suggest that the budget is not due be overpsent. Hansard
Neil Arnott - 06/06/2013
No not at the moment!  Textphone and telephone can often be problematic.  ‘We provide a textphone facility for people with hearing loss who cannot make a PIP claim by telephone. We will also accept telephone claims from people acting on behalf of the claimant and where they have no one to provide this support, claimants can request a paper version of the PIP claim form in writing from a DWP PO...
Neil Arnott - 04/06/2013
Some of you have asked how the claimant count will be performed under Universal Credit.  The Government has indicated that the the system will stay broadly the same- 'it was agreed that the Claimant Count would reflect those people who were still receiving JSA, plus the subset of UC claimants who were claiming benefits principally for the reason of being unemployed. This UC element would be...
Neil Arnott - 04/06/2013
'Mr Byrne: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how the qualifying conditions for each passported benefit for which he is responsible will change under universal credit. [157425] Poulter: For Help with Health Costs we have put arrangements in place for the passporting of universal credit recipients during the pathfinder phase, which started on 29 April 2013. All those in receipt of universal...
Neil Arnott - 04/06/2013
AS PIP is rolled out,  it’s important that if your clients are having problems that the Department for Work and Pensions(DWP) know about this and can respond.  Here’s a list of contacts released by the DWP ’Who to contact about claimants with disabilities/long term health conditions, pensioners and welfare reform’-   Central England, London and the Home Counties, North East, Yorkshire and Humber...
Neil Arnott - 04/06/2013
In Wales,  the replacement for Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans is the ‘Discretionary Assistance Fund’.   Call 0800 859 5924 or online to apply.  Short term benefits advances are still administered by the DWP where clients are waiting for benefit to be paid.  Clients in England will have to contact their Local Authority for details of their equivalent replacement schemes.   
Neil Arnott - 04/06/2013
A case has recently been heard in Judicial Review proceedings at the High Court about whether the new bedroom tax(or under occupancy in the social rented sector) rules discriminate against disabled people.  10 claimants who are either disabled or live with a disabled person are taking the case jointly.  The Equality and Human Rights Commission acted as an expert witness and submitted that ‘the...
Neil Arnott - 04/06/2013
Clients age 16– 64 with a disability will claim Personal Independence Payment(PIP) from 10/6/2013 instead of Disability Living Allowance.  Unlike many of the recent changes in April 2013,  such as the bedroom tax and local Council Tax  Support which affected new and existing claimants,  the introduction of PIP applies initially only to new claimants.  Existing claimants of Disability Living...
Neil Arnott - 04/06/2013
Click here to have a look at the online claim form being used in the Pathfinder area in Tameside. Note ‘Your session will time out and you’ll have to start again if you’re inactive for more than 20 minutes’.  At the moment there does not seem to be a function to allow a person to save the claim as they proceed. Click here for our Universal Credit 2013 course.  
Neil Arnott - 01/06/2013
email us with your order to buy colour copies of our 2013/ 2014 Benefit Rates Poster(A3 £4, or A2 £6 +a total of £2.25 p&p).
Neil Arnott - 02/05/2013
Pilots for Personal Independence Payment have started in some area of the country ahead of a national roll out for new claims from June 2013. Areas affected are those in postcode areas BL, CA, CH (except CH1, CH4, CH5, CH6, CH7, and CH8), CW, DH, DL (except DL6, DH7, DL8, DL9, DL10 and DL11), FY, L, LA (except LA2 7, LA2 8, LA6 2 and LA6 3), M, NE, PR, SR, TS (except TS9), WA and WN. We have...
Neil Arnott - 02/05/2013
From April, most claimants will be directed to claim Job Seekers Allowance on line unless ‘vulnerable’ or aged under 18/ without a National Insurance Number/ with appointees. Introduction to Welfare Benefits 2013 course.
Neil Arnott - 02/05/2013
The current system of means tested benefits are seen as complex.  They are viewed as acting as a disincentive to getting into work.   After a small earnings disregards (for example £5 for single people),  benefits such as Job Seekers Allowance (income based) are withdrawn £1 for £1 as a client enters work.  Similarly taper rates for Housing Benefit and Local Council Tax Support work together to...
Neil Arnott - 01/04/2013
Steve Webb (Minister of State (Pensions), Work and Pensions ) has confirmed that ‘The definition of supported exempt accommodation in universal credit remains the same as that in housing benefit.’  This means that housing costs will continue for this group of claimants to be paid by local authorities and direct to the landlord.  Click here for our Universal Credit 2013 course.        
Neil Arnott - 01/04/2013
Replacement of Council Tax Benefit with a localised Council Tax Support. Replacement of Community Care Grants and most Crisis Loans with locally Adminstered Assistance. The bedroom tax. The Benefit Cap will start a little later than planned. It will apply from 15 April 2013 in Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Haringey-12 DWP staff have been co-located to help there. It will be rolled out in...
Neil Arnott - 01/04/2013
Mark Hoban,  MP, has stated  ‘Universal credit will have a process in place to identify claimants who are vulnerable at the start of their universal credit claim. This information will be recorded and where the needs identified are complex an appointment will be made with an adviser….. In exceptional circumstances, it will be possible to make same day payments using the Faster Payments Service...
Neil Arnott - 01/04/2013
Personal Independence Payment will be assessed under a scoring system  involving descriptors and a points based system (like Employment and Support Allowance).  A new regulation has usefully prescribed that when helping clients to decide if they can or can’t perform certain tasks,  the following should be taken into account- · 'safely'-in a manner unlikely to cause harm to the client/ another...
Neil Arnott - 01/04/2013
The budget this year was relatively quiet in terms of big changes to the Benefits System.  There was mention that the overall Social Security budget would be capped at some point in the future.    Key Benefit announcements are-    · From 2016 the current State Retirement Pension will be replaced for new claims by a Single Tier State Pension.  It will be worth £144 in today’s money.  Gainers...
Neil Arnott - 22/03/2013
3 new exceptions for the bedroom tax(under occupancy in the social rented sector) which starts in a couple of weeks. The following will be able to get an extra room. (A new regulation brings in the first 2 changes- Social Security The Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2013 no 665) people who are approved foster carers will be allowed an extra room, whether or not a child has been placed...
Neil Arnott - 05/03/2013
Atos Healthcare currently deliver all medical assessments for the much criticised assessments for the Work Capability Assessment of Employment and Support Allowance(ESA). In our September 2012 newsletter we reported that the contracts for medical assessments under PIP had mostly been awarded to Atos.  The exceptions are in Wales and Central England where Capita Business Services will be...
Neil Arnott - 04/03/2013
One of the biggest worries with Universal Credit is how vulnerable claimants will budget monthly when they are paid   directly.  The government argue that promoting personal responsibility is one of the key ways to help put work at the centre of the Benefit System.  The DWP have announced guidance to decision makers on personal budgeting support for the Universal Credit pathfinder areas running...
Neil Arnott - 04/03/2013
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) starts to be introduced in pilot areas from April 2013 and throughout the country from June 2013.  It will gradually replace DLA for those claimants aged 16– 64. A DWP impact assessment states ‘we expect around 500,000 fewer individuals to be in receipt of Personal Independence Payment by 2015/16 compared to what would have happened under DLA.’ Those who are...
Neil Arnott - 04/03/2013
We are now taking orders for our popular colour Weekly Benefit Rates Posters 2013–14.  Costs are £4 for A3 size and £6 for A2  size (plus a total of £2.25 postage for all orders).   The posters will include the new rates for Universal Credit and Personal Independence   Payments,  as well as the Benefit Cap. Email us with details of your order and address for the invoice.  In April we will be...
Neil Arnott - 04/03/2013
From April,  a growing number of advice centres such as CABx and Law Centres will no longer be able to provide support for clients who need specialist legal advice to enforce their rights.  At a time of increased demand,  many areas of law will be          removed from the scope of legal aid, meaning vulnerable people will be left to struggle with complex legal problems alone. Legal Aid allows...
Neil Arnott - 05/02/2013
The Department for Transport has finalised rules that apply to PIP and the disabled parking or ‘Blue Badge’ scheme.   The new rules will give automatic eligibility to those people who score 8 points or more in the ‘Moving Around’ activity of PIP.   About a third of all Blue Badges are currently issued to people who receive the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance...
Neil Arnott - 05/02/2013
Thanks to all those who attended the Welfare Reform Briefings on Universal Credit recently.  We discussed many potential issues and came up with planned responses.  Some of your concerns were-  increases in workload,  monthly budgeting,  direct payments,  increase in debt,  on line claims,  recoverability of overpayments, reduction in advice centre capacity for referrals,  increase in rent...
Neil Arnott - 05/02/2013
The latest draft regulations for Universal Credit released in December 2012 confirm that there will be large cuts for  the severely disabled under Universal Credit.  There will be no equivalent of the Severe Disability Premium (worth £58.20 at present).  Also claimants who are recognised as both sick and a carer by the present system are another group who will lose out as the carers element of...
Neil Arnott - 05/02/2013
From 28/1/2013 new regulations apply for Employment and Support Allowance.  As well as some smaller changes to the descriptors (and exceptional circumstances rules),  the new rules affect those receiving cancer treatment and no longer differentiate between non-oral and oral chemotherapy.  The old rules meant claimants receiving radiotherapy lost out as they were often placed in the Work Related...
Neil Arnott - 05/02/2013
Transitional protection tries to ensure that existing benefit claimants don’t miss out when benefits entitlements are cut.  Transitional protection under the Universal Credit system will be available to protect those that move over from the old system, for example ESA. However this protection will be lost over time as it won’t be uprated with inflation.  Minister Mark Hoban has also stated- with...
Neil Arnott - 05/02/2013
The migration of many DLA claims over to PIP has been delayed until October 2015.  The revised PIP introduction timetable is- 8/4/2013 New claims for PIP in the postal code areas– BL,  CA,  CH(except CH5, CH6, CH7 and CH8), CW, DH, DL (except DL6, DL7, DL8, DL9, DL10 and DL11), FY, L, LA (except LA2 7, LA2 8, LA6 2 anLA6 3), M, NE, PR, SR, TS (except TS9), WA and WN.(mostly the North West and...
Neil Arnott - 05/02/2013
A report commissioned by the National Housing Federation has found that- · 84% of associations believe that rent arrears will increase as a direct result of welfare changes. The average increase expected is 51%, which, if replicated across the sector, would mean an additional £245m of arrears.  · More than half of associations (57%) believe that their tenants know   hardly anything or nothing at...
Neil Arnott - 22/01/2013
Sign up to our newsletter to get your poster.  Benefit Rates 2013/2014 Key Points We have the first rates for Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments. Child benefit is now means tested. The Benefit Cap and Local Council Tax Support have been added. Most benefits are uprated from Monday 8/4/2013. State Retirement Pension is being uprated by 2.5% in line with the...
Neil Arnott - 07/01/2013
The government gives local Authorities a budget each year to allow discretionary funding of housing costs that are not covered by the normal Housing or Council Tax Benefit schemes.   It’s advisable to encourage your clients to try to claim this money. Due to cuts in other Housing Benefit areas the overall fund has been increased to £155 million for 2013/ 14.  The budget was £60 million in 2012/13...
Neil Arnott - 07/01/2013
The government has, after consultation, abandoned the idea of ceasing the collection of data that reveals that £billions goes unclaimed in income related benefits every year.  (see our newsletter of October 2012).  The next report will give figures on the financial years 2010/11 and 2011/12 combined.       
Neil Arnott - 07/01/2013
Demonstration projects have been running since June 2012 to try to test out how direct payments of rent to tenants might work under Universal Credit.  Initial results say- ‘Over the first four months, 6,220 tenants were paid their housing benefit directly. Against a total level of rent charged of £7,692,844 over the period, payment collection rates stood at 92%.’ ….. ’A total of 316 tenants have...
Neil Arnott - 07/01/2013
In December 2012 George Osborne announced the following intended Benefit changes-(£3.7 billion in cuts in 2015-16) · Most working age benefits will rise at 1% per year from 2013 for 3 years(exceptions are pensions– will rise by 2.5%,  and benefits relating todisability and carers– will rise by inflation). · Cap Local Housing Allowance rises to 1% in 2014/15 and 2015/16(but    allow 30% of the...
Neil Arnott - 07/01/2013
From 7/1/2013,  Child Benefit moves from being a Universal Benefit to a means tested one.  Critics say that although the new means test seems relatively cheap and simple it is unfair as it doesn’t look at joint income. The original Universal principle had tried to ensure that payments would get to children via the mother, would be in recognition of the costs involved in      bringing up children...
Neil Arnott - 07/01/2013
Soon we will be sending out a draft copy of our  Weekly Benefit Rates Poster 2013–14 to all our newsletter subscribers. To ensure you get a free copy,  subscribe here.
Neil Arnott - 03/12/2012
The following table shows how larger families will have very little money  available for housing costs under the Benefit Cap.    If the parent is a carer then potentially they will have even less money  available for housing costs(around £32.60 per week less). Tip - if someone in the household gets DLA then the Benefit Cap is avoided Under Universal Credit the Cap will also affect owner occupiers...
Neil Arnott - 03/12/2012
Ian Duncan Smith has launched a consultation on how we define child poverty. The idea is that we may need additional factors beyond the current system of relative poverty measured by those below 60% of the median household income level.  A number of potential dimensions are proposed: income and material deprivation, worklessness, unmanageable debt, poor housing, parental skill level,  access to...
Neil Arnott - 03/12/2012
Ministers have announced that help toward housing costs for those living in  ‘exempt’ supported accommodation will be provided outside of the new Universal Credit(UC) system.   People in supported ‘exempt’ accommodation will still be able to claim and receive UC but their housing costs will be provided separately. There will be those living in supported housing not classed as ‘exempt’ who will...
Neil Arnott - 03/12/2012
From 3/12/2012 new, tougher sanctions apply.  Employment and Support Allowance(ESA) claimants may be sanctioned if they do not: • Attend or take part in a Work Focused Interview • Carry out prescribed work-related activity Claimants who fail to carry out these activities could lose the Personal Allowance of their ESA until they comply with requirements, followed by a fixed period sanction of one...
Neil Arnott - 01/11/2012
Have your say on how the numbers on Universal Credit are counted(until 23/10/2012).  The Claimant Count generally aims to measure the number of people who receive benefits principally for the reason of being unemployed. It is currently based on Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) but needs to change because of the Introduction of Universal Credit.  
Neil Arnott - 01/11/2012
In the last newsletter we mentioned the new JSA sanctions introduced from 22/10/2012.  Here are some more details-  495,000 clients were sanctioned in the last year,  the sanctions will be similar to those under Universal Credit,  ‘there are three levels of sanctions: low, intermediate, and high.  Low level: for failures to undertake specific action as required by a Jobcentre Plus adviser....
Neil Arnott - 01/11/2012
The DWP has notified Upper Tier local authorities in England, and the Scottish and Welsh Governments of their indicative funding for the introduction of Local Welfare Provision (LWP) from April 2013. Arrangements for LWP are not expected to replicate current Crisis Loan and Community Care Grant provision.
Neil Arnott - 01/11/2012
From April 2013 the government is proposing to localise support for council tax from 2013–14.  It will give grants to local authorities in England and to the Scottish and Welsh governments to design their own systems for providing support for council tax to low-income families.  Council Tax Benefit will be abolished affecting over 5 million claimants with an overall cut in the budget of 10% or...
Neil Arnott - 01/11/2012
Mark Hoban,  Minister of State DWP,  has indicated that from October 2013 Universal Credit a Freephone helpline for ‘how to claim’ and ‘online help’ (taking claimants to an agent) will be available.  As at present,  follow up calls will be chargeable.  There won’t be any extra  DWP offices to give ‘face to face’ help but extra help might be available through local Council offices.
Neil Arnott - 01/11/2012
Thanks to all those who attended our briefings recently on Personal Independence Payment(PIP).  99% of the feedback was excellent/good.  One of the suggested responses to the cuts imposed by Welfare Reform was to make sure that clients maximise their entitlement to Disability Living Allowance(DLA) before PIP comes in.  You could potentially gain £1000’s for each client who has been missing out on...
Neil Arnott - 10/10/2012
Another set of Universal Credit pilots to help claimants with budgeting and    digital inclusion have been launched– 12 local authorities have been chosen- Bath and North East Somerset Council, Birmingham City Council, Caerphilly County Borough Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, London Borough of Lewisham, Melton and Rushcliffe Borough Councils (as a partnership), Newport City Council, North...
Neil Arnott - 10/10/2012
Between 20 September and 5 October 2012 letters will be sent by the DWP to  claimants who could be affected by the benefit cap (due in April 2013).   The letters will detail the amount that may be lost and support available to claimants through the DWP, local authorities and other advisory groups. Click here for our Welfare Reform Briefing3.    
Neil Arnott - 10/10/2012
The DWP currently produces yearly statistics on the take up of Welfare Benefits.  These are invaluable to  help illustrate the scale of the problem of people not claiming their legal entitlement.  It focuses on the amount unclaimed and then we can question why and how we can tackle this.    We agree with the views of the Work and Pensions Committee who say- ‘ We are concerned that, without the...
Neil Arnott - 10/10/2012
The DWP intends to introduce a new sanctions regime for JSA from 22/10/2012 and the ESA Work Related Activity Group from 3/12/2012.  There will be three levels of sanctions for JSA and one level for ESA. The length of time a claimant receives reduced benefit for will depend on the sanction level and how may times the claimant   committed a sanctionable failure in a 52 week period.  It’s rumoured...
Neil Arnott - 10/10/2012
From 1 October 2012, Access to Work will be available to support young disabled people who do voluntary work experience as part of the Youth Contract.  This change will help thousands of young disabled people do voluntary work experience placement over the next three years.   Access to Work  provides Employers and their staff with advice and  support with the extra costs that may arise due to...
Neil Arnott - 10/10/2012
By the end of October 2012,  all new claims for DLA(children) should be dealt with only at the Midlands Benefit Centre in Birmingham.  All Attendance Allowance claims will be centralised to the Blackpool office. Click here for our Welfare Reform Briefing on Personal Independence Payments.        
Neil Arnott - 10/10/2012
The government has stated that it intends by early 2013 to have changed regulations and processes so that more people undergoing treatment for cancer will qualify to enter the ESA support group.  The rules will be changed,  after consultation with groups such as Macmillan,  to allow claimants to be treated as having limited capability for work related activity if-either clients are-’Awaiting,...
Neil Arnott - 10/10/2012
A new penalty of £50 has been introduced for overpayments from 1/10/2012.  The change is meant to deter clients from misrepresenting facts or failing to disclose facts that might lead to an overpayment of benefit. It will apply where a client ‘negligently makes an incorrect statement or representation, or negligently gives incorrect information or evidence’  or   ‘without reasonable excuse, fails...
Neil Arnott - 03/09/2012
Job Grant payments will end from April 2013, as well as In-Work Credit or Return and Work Credit payments, from October 2013.  Lord Freud announced on 12 July 2012 that Back to Work payments are to be phased out due to the introduction of Universal Credit.   Payments in progress at the start of October 2013 will continue until completion or a change of circumstances that brings the payment to an...
Neil Arnott - 03/09/2012
Give your views on a new set of guidance for Discretionary Housing Payments for  Local Authorities due to be introduced from April 2013.  This will replace the current guidance that came in March 2011 and is needed because of the large number of change to the Benefits System. A good overview off the Benefits System is available in September.  Click here for our Introduction to Benefits 2012...
Neil Arnott - 03/09/2012
At present people (among others) with the Higher rate of the Mobility Component can apply for the Blue Badge to access a range of parking concessions.  When Personal Independence Payments(PIP) is introduced next year,  how  people get a blue badge is up for discussion.  The Department for Transport is asking for your views.  3 of their ideas are - Idea 1 – No link with Personal Independence...
Neil Arnott - 03/09/2012
Atos HealthCare has been awarded most of the contracts to carry out the medical tests for the forthcoming Personal Independence Payment(PIP).  The PIP assessment competition has now been completed and the preferred bidders for each of the Lots in Britain are: Lot 1 – Atos Healthcare- Scotland, NE England, NW England & Isle of Man Lot 2 – Capita Business Services Ltd- Wales, Central England...
Neil Arnott - 12/08/2012
The 2011/2012 Annual Report on the Social Fund makes the case for reform of the Social Fund describing it as ‘complex, over-centralised, poorly targeted and failing those it is meant to help the most ‘.  www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/2012-annual-report-social-fund.pdfC:/Users/Neil/Documents/Ableton From April 2013,  the Welfare Reform Act 2012 abolishes the current system of discretionary payments from...
Neil Arnott - 12/08/2012
A court case has decided that children who would normally have to share a room under the Local Housing Allowance criteria for Housing Benefit may be able to get the rate for one bedroom each.   The Local Authority needs to agree they are unable to share a bedroom because of severe disabilities.  The Court of Appeal judgment in Burnip v Birmingham City Council & Anor will apply from 15 May...
Neil Arnott - 12/08/2012
New regulations are expected to be debated in both Houses of Parliament in September / October 2012 to see the introduction of the so called ‘bedroom tax’ from April 2013.  The change will mean a reduction in the eligible rent for housing benefit(social rented sector) purposes for those who are deemed to be under occupying their property.  Private tenancies already have such restrictions.   670,...
Neil Arnott - 12/08/2012
Some of the latest points to consider are- · New claimants-  less are failing the test-  down from 69% to 55%. · New claimants-  of those who pass more are going in the support group– up from around 33%  to  56%. · There is currently a call for evidence(until 7/9/2012)  for the 3rd Harrington report which looks into the medical test each year.  Have your say,particularly those of you who have...
Neil Arnott - 12/08/2012
Polly Toynbee writes in the Guardian on the potential problems with localising council tax next year and describes  the changes as ‘Inefficient, bureaucratic,  unjust and unworkable ‘.www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/23/poll-tax-back-cameron-localism The institute for Fiscal Studies has said ‘Any scheme which sees households with very low incomes liable for small amounts of council tax...
Neil Arnott - 12/08/2012
At present there are 3 non means tested Benefits available if your husband/  wife/  civil partner dies– Bereavement Payment,  Widows Parents Allowance and Bereavement Benefit. The government is asking for your views on changes to this system which would probably  come in after the next election. The new Bereavement Payment is expected to be set at around £9,800 for a bereaved spouse or civil...
Neil Arnott - 26/06/2012
The first of the Universal Credit regulations have released.  Also the Housing Benefits regulations to implement the Benefit Cap from the Welfare Reform Act 2012. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/policy/welfare-reform/legislation-and-key-documents/welfare-reform-act-2012/welfare-reform-draft-regulations Before they become law,  the Social Security Committee,  has the task of overlooking new regulations.  ...
Neil Arnott - 26/06/2012
David Cameron delivered a speech on 25/6/2012 in which he has started  debate about further changes to the Welfare Benefits system- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/9354163/David-Camerons-welfare-speech-in-full.html ‘The truth is we can’t just throw money at the problem and paper over the cracks.’ ‘working-age benefits – ….where the really big arguments for the future lie...
Neil Arnott - 20/06/2012
Disabled people often miss out on the severe disability premium. We'd like to offer our help in helping you identify possible claims for the severe disability premium.  Please post your comments/ queries on our discussion forum. The severe disability premium is paid as part of means tested benefits and is worth £58.20 per week.  A brief summary of the rules states that it may be payable if the...
Neil Arnott - 20/06/2012
Whilst awaiting appeal,  the amount of ESA should include not just the assement phase rate of personal allowance but also all premiums and housing costs.   There have been examples of clients who were not being paid the severe disability premium whilst they were appealing which is wrong.    If you have a client in this situation they can quote the following guidance issued recently to DWP...
Neil Arnott - 20/06/2012
Click here for an online calculator for the new Benefit Cap. The cap is expected to affect those with benefits(not including Council Tax Benefit) of at least £350 a week for single people or £500 a week for lone parents or couples. They will lose any benefit above these levels. The Benefit Cap is due to be introduced from April 2013(sections 96 & 97 of the Welfare Reform Act) for new and...
Neil Arnott - 12/06/2012
During Carers Week events take place all around the UK to celebrate and recognise unpaid carers.  The website allows searches for events in your area. Some facts (from the 2001 Census) about caring highlighted on the Carers Week website are- · 10 per cent of the total population are carers which is nearly six million people in the UK. · There are 1.9 million people caring for more than 20 hours...
Neil Arnott - 12/06/2012
Government plans to localise the help with council tax whilst cutting funding for it by 10% leave local councils with a tough challenge to design replacement schemes, according to a new report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Plans are to abolish Council Tax Benefit from April 2013 and let local authorities in England, and the Scottish and Welsh governments, set up their own schemes.  Some of...
Neil Arnott - 12/06/2012
Legislation is due this year which will mean that existing and new social tenants of working age(aged 16 to 64)  will receive Housing Benefit based on size criteria in a similar manner to that already used in the private sector.  It will apply to local authority, housing association or other registered social landlord tenants.  The size criteria allows one bedroom for each person or couple living...
Neil Arnott - 10/06/2012
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs(HMRC) pilots have started since April 2012 to test ‘Real time Information’ or RTI .   The system allows employers and pension providers to tell HMRC through PAYE about changes to payments.  By July around 320 employers and pension providers will have joined the pilot.  The system will be rolled out nationally from April 2013.  Universal Credit– this is a pre-...
Neil Arnott - 02/05/2012
At the end of each financial year tax credits awards need to be finalised.  Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs(HMRC) are encouraging people to finalise and renew their tax credits before the deadline of 31/7/2012. Jobcentre Plus claimants will be among the first to receive their renewal packs, starting from the week commencing 24 April 2012.   People who have been in continuous receipt of the...
Neil Arnott - 02/05/2012
At the end of April the DWP is starting to send explanatory letters to claimants who may lose benefit due to the Benefits Cap being introduced in April 2013.    The Benefit Cap is a new cut in benefits for those getting more in benefits than the average wage(currently around £350 a week for single adults with no children and at £500 a week for couples (with or without children) and lone parents...
Neil Arnott - 02/05/2012
Our new Welfare Benefit Rates Poster will be available very soon. It will be emailed free of charge to subscribers of our  free newsletter.  To buy colour copies(A3 £4, or A2 £6 +a total of £1.70 package & postage), email us with your name/ address and number of copies(A3 or A2) you would like.  We will then invoice you.
Neil Arnott - 29/04/2012
Personal Independence Payments will gradually replace Disability Living  Allowance from April 2013,  one of the aims being to save 20% of the overall bill.   An initial shortlist, or framework,  has been set of 10 potential bidders for the contract to deliver medical services for the DWP,  including independent assessments  for Personal Independence Payments.  The bidders list includes- Avanta...
Neil Arnott - 24/04/2012
  There is "anecdotal evidence" of people committing suicide after losing their benefits following a reassessment, an MP has claimed. A freedom of information request revealed that between January and August last year, 1,100 people had died after they lost their benefits. Labour MP John McDonnell asked the Government to investigate whether there was a trend of people with mental health problems...