5th November, 2019
One of the features of the new website is a section called – Ask our experts for advice.
Although it’s designed for website members only, I frequently receive contact from individual claimants, desperately looking for help. I attempt to answer every query myself, even if it’s simply to sign-post the writer to someone or support body, closer to their home.
On Monday, I received the following message from a Single Parent – “Hi – My husband left on June 3rd and I started to claim UC on my own. My social housing provider provided me with a “untidy tenancy letter” for DWP stating I was solely responsible for FULL rent. DWP only awarded me half my rental costs; I have been paying the other half myself since June. My landlord has provided a new single named Tenancy Agreement from June 3rd and have said that UC should backdate the other half of the rental costs, I have been making.
I’ve spoken to UC and they’ve said to update my journal re my housing costs online as soon as it’s in single name then call them the next day and “they’ll see what they can do” … Is there anything / anyway I can foresee that they will indeed rebate the past five months of half rent that I have been entitled to all that time due to the untidy tenancy side of things?
My response –
If you read my members’ bulletin on this topic, you’ll have seen the link to DWP’s own circular explaining how when partners separate permanently, the remaining partner should be paid 100% of the rent. There is NO need for a new tenancy to be issued to secure this payment.
If DWP refuses to pay the backdated underpayment, submit a Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) through your online journal, something along the lines of:
Dear Work Coach/Account Manager
- I write to request a revision of my UC award as I believe you have wrongly underpaid my “housing costs element”. As I told you in my “journal entry” my partner, who was a joint tenant with me, left the property on June 3rd, is now living elsewhere and has no intention of returning to our home.
- Because of this, and our “joint & several” liability to meet Anytown Housing’s monthly rental charge, I have had to assume liability for the full amount of rent, otherwise, I’d have accrued rent arrears, putting my tenancy in jeopardy.
- It’s my understanding, from email exchanges I’ve had with Bill Irvine, UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd, that in this situation, DWP staff have been advised they should pay me the “housing costs element” previously paid to us as a couple, to avoid the situation mentioned above, permitting me to continue residing in the property with my two children.
- Mr Irvine’s members’ bulletin includes a link to DWP’s own circular to this effect. Paragraph 2.7 of DWP’s circular specifically deals with the set of circumstances I’ve alluded too.
- I previously asked you to make this revision to my claim. Please now revise your earlier decision in my favour or, if not, issue a written decision, in relation to my request, so that I might pursue this matter, as an appeal. with the Tribunal Service.
- Many thanks
- Tenant’s name
Just copy and paste this and if DWP continues to refuse, come back to me and I’ll intervene.
Today, only a matter of two days later, Maggie wrote back:
“Hi Bill – Just wanted to say a massive thank you for your reply. I copied and pasted your suggested note into my online journal yesterday morning at 9am. I then followed up with a call at 1pm. I’ve just received notice that I am indeed owed £1024.56 in backdated rent payment that I have been owed since June 2019.
I am expecting payment today. Also, in helping myself, you have also actually helped my daughter who now lives alone and is privately renting. She similarly updated her rental details in September yet received no housing element. Using your material, we’ve also managed to secure her a rebate of £266.56 towards her rental costs.
I really cannot thank you enough. I’m So relieved.
DWP is consistently denying the correct amount of “housing costs element”, to joint tenants who’ve experienced similar separation from partners, despite the fact, DWP issued guidance to its own staff, that should, in effect, have put a stop to this type of malpractice.
If any of your staff have experienced similar problems with one or more of your tenants, I would recommend you following the advice offered to Maggie. It works to everyone’s benefit and involves little effort!
I hope you find this information of assistance.
UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd