Good morning

DWP wrote to me this week, confirming it would pay my landlord client £1500 in respect of 4 missing months “housing costs”, originally refused at the point his tenant moved from “live” to “full service” Universal Credit, earlier this year.

The reason DWP gave for refusing payment was – ““Mr G was correctly asked to provide his tenancy agreement when switching over to the digital (full) service as his housing details would have needed verifying. Unfortunately, there were issues which prevented his housing being verified and this prevented any housing costs being paid”.

In other words, having originally validated his housing costs when he first applied, by supplying a copy of his tenancy agreement, allowing the housing costs element (HCE) to be paid directly to his landlord, at the point of his transition to “Full Service” the tenant was being asked to validate again, the same housing costs and having failed to do so, DWP decided to stop making any award for his rental costs.

My landlord had tried, in vain, to assist his tenant recover the sum himself, by supplying the details, but DWP simply refused to budge, pointing the finger of blame at the tenant.

Before I could assist, I needed the tenant to sign my mandate, authorising my appointment as his representative. Once completed, I wrote to DWP:

“If the information provided by the landlord is correct, I have to question why someone already claiming and receiving UC (including his HCE) should be asked to re-validate his housing costs, when the details could have been simply transferred from his live account to Full Service.

Quite apart from this, the tenant appears to suffer from mental health issues and has problems trying to remember his online journal login. His problems in this respect, may not have been known to the DM who appears to have deleted his HCE, from the award, despite the fact nothing had changed in terms of his tenancy obligations. If you had any concerns over the amount of his HCE element you could have written to the landlord seeking confirmation. That doesn’t appear to have happened.

Once in receipt of the information you could also have “revised” the earlier cancellation of the HCE using the UC (Decisions & Appeals) Regulations. In order to safeguard the interests of the tenant, I would suggest a “late revision” of this claim is appropriate. Any arrears of UC arising from such a revision would substantially reduce or clear the rent arrears and prevent the tenant from being evicted.

Please consider this a request for “Late Revision” and/or MR. In the event you are unwilling to comply with this request please produce a full written response addressed to Mr T (the landlord) and, if need be, I’ll draft a suitable appeal on the tenant’s behalf.”

My initial email was not responded to within DWP’s published guidelines, which prompted an escalation of my complaint to Directorate level. Two days later we received confirmation payment would be made.

I first wrote about this scandalous situation a year ago. You can find the bulletin here. No tenant nor landlord should lose out as a result of this type of blatant DWP maladministration.

If you’ve encountered similar problems and haven’t secured payment, drop me a note bill@ucadvice.co.uk or phone 07733 080 389 and I’ll do my best to assist.

Regards,

Bill Irvine

UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd