Hi Everyone

I hope you’re all well and coping with all the chaos around us.

DWP has just announced that it intends to suspend all planned reviews and reassessments of claims for the next three months, mainly to allow its staff to cope with the deluge of claims and calls it’s received over this past week. It’s quite rightly trying to focus all efforts on processing claims and advance payments so as to relieve the financial pressures on staff being laid off, experiencing reduced hours, or being affected buy self-isolation or infection.

Benefits affected include:

a) Universal Credit (UC)

b) Employment Support Allowance (ESA)

c) Personal Independence Payments (PIP)

d) Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Attendance Allownce (AA) and Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIB)

It’s worth noting that this suspension only applies to DWP initiated ones. It doesn’t alter the ability or obligation of tenants themselves to notify any changes that could have a material affect on their benefit entitlement. For example, in the case of Universal Credit, tenants will still be expected to report changes via their online journal that impct on, their rent charge, family make-up, income etc. as normal and failure to do so, in the case of overpayments could also attract admin penalties. Similarly, if someone claiming DLA or PIP experience a worsening of their illness or disability that needs to be reported as well, preferably as soon as this happens.

Given the unprecedented volumes of work DWP is dealing with, advise your tenants not to expect early calls or responses from Job Coaches or Account Managers. As long as they’ve notified the change in good time, it should be sorted at some point, when things calm down.

West of Scotland HA forwarded a CoronaVirus briefing note, designed to update tenants on the implications of the virus. They very kindly agreed for me to share with you. I hope you find it useful.

If anyone has anything else that could be shared please forward and I’ll circulate in later bulletin.

Some of you have asked me to pursue DWP to secure clarity on a variety of issues. Believe me, I’ve already acted on these requests and as soon as I hear anything definitive will update you.

Meantime, follow all the guidance out there; keep safe and save lives!

Bill Irvine

UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd