12th July, 2019
An increasing number of my clients have been expressing concern about the ongoing fiasco, relating to the April rental charge, uprating exercise, which has contributed to some tenants failing to report the change in rent level to the DWP, in some cases creating under or over-payments. As DWP has completely failed in its promise to “get to the bottom of the problem”, I’ve drafted the following note, so you can advise DWP direct and thus avoid future potential problems.
Dear District or Partnership Manager
We have several tenants who we’ve been trying to engage with, to ensure they notify Universal Credit of the change to their rental charge, which became effective from 1st April 2019. None of the individuals have so far responded and through this failure, may well be receiving:
- Less than their eligible rent; or
- More than their eligible rent (delete as appropriate).
We’ve been advised by Bill Irvine, UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd that we, as landlords, have an obligation to advise DWP of any material change to any of our tenants’ housing element, where we are receiving payment of the “housing costs” on the tenant’s behalf. Consequently, you’ll find attached, a spreadsheet with the tenant’s details, including the new rent charge. I should be grateful if you could pass this information to each tenant’s Work Coach or Account Manager to ensure the new rent level is applied from the Benefit Assessment Period in which the change occurred.
Contrary to the advice offered in your March 2019 Guidance and FAQ note, changes to the “housing costs” can be reported in advance of the change (i.e. during the claimant’s BA)) although your IT system actually prevents tenants from doing so. Similarly, your advice about when the change should take effect was wrongly stated. Under Universal Credit, the change should be applied from the first day of the BAP in which the change occurs. The details of this can be found in the relevant UC Regulations here.
I have highlighted some of the critical parts below.
Effective dates: Secretary of State decisions
35.—(1) Schedule 1 (effective dates for superseding decisions made on the ground of a change of circumstances) makes provision for the date from which a superseding decision takes effect where there has been, or it is anticipated that there will be, a relevant change of circumstances since the earlier decision took effect.
Similarly, your advice about when the change should take effect was wrongly stated. Under Universal Credit the change should be applied from the first day of the BAP in which the change occurs if it’s reported during that period.
- (4)In a case where paragraph (2) applies and the superseding decision relates to universal credit, the superseding decision takes effect from the first day of the assessment period in which the superseding decision, or where applicable, the application for supersession, was made.
Where notification is received outwith the BAP, the change can nevertheless be applied, from the first day of the BAP in which it occurred. The discretion to do so is included in Regulation 36
Effective dates for superseding decisions where changes notified late
36.—(1) For the purposes of regulation 35(1) (effective dates: Secretary of State decisions) and paragraphs 6, 14 and 21 of Schedule 1 (effective dates for superseding decisions made on the ground of a change of circumstances), the Secretary of State may extend the time allowed for a person (“the applicant”) to give notice of a change of circumstances in so far as it affects the effective date of the change…..
In the cases of tenant’s who have experienced an increase in charge, we would ask you to look sympathetically on their claims, given the degree of misinformation that DWP itself provided; the fundamental flaw in your IT system; and the lack of solution that still exists, despite your repeated promises this would be delivered by April 2019.
Please acknowledge this request and confirm that the information provided has been acted upon or, if not, provide a fulsome explanation as we reserve the right to pursue this matter further.
Director of Housing