Good morning

In an earlier bulletin, I highlighted the Court of Appeal ruling which found in favour of 4 single mothers, who were supported by CPAG. The case revolved around the way in which the ladies’ monthly salaries were being treated under Universal Credit rules, sometimes leaving them with a NIL award or little to live on until their next salary.

DWP’s approach was roundly criticised by the court, which described the situation as quite perverse and left DWP to find a solution to remedy the problem. It did so by introducing new legislation on 16th November 2020.

So, who is affected and how do the new regulations work?

From 16th November 2020, any claimant who receives two monthly wages, in the one Benefit Assessment Period (BAP), must contact DWP, ideally through their Universal Credit journal, by telephoning their Work Coach or Case Manager, and ask to have their award revised to ensure only 1 month’s salary is considered in that BAP.

Who is NOT affected by the new regulations?

Regrettably, the new regulations make no provision for similar anomalies, that can arise when claimants are paid weekly, fortnightly, or 4-weekly.

At what point should the claimant notify DWP?

Ideally, to ensure payment is amended quickly, the claimant should notify DWP during the BAP or as soon as they become aware of the potential problem, if this occurs after the end of the BAP. Oftentimes, dual payments, arise during bank holiday periods or Christmas, so the problem can often be anticipated. However, on some occasions, problems arise due to their employer delaying or bringing forward payments or simply making mistakes in their returns to HMRC.

What should the claimant say to DWP?

Dear Decision Maker,

Please note, although I’m regularly paid my salary on the last day of the month, this month my employer plans to make effectively two payments, within my Benefit Assessment Period (BAP). One payment relates to (xxxx) whilst the other covers (xxxx).

I can provide details of these payments, either in the form of a letter from my employer or, if you prefer, my specific wage slips via an upload to my online account.

In the circumstances, I would ask you to allocate the funds in accordance with the correct PAP (or words to that effect).

What if your tenant encounters any problems?

No new rule is introduced without mistakes being made. Mistakes can also be challenged through Mandatory Reconsideration and appeal. However, in the short term, at least, I would recommend you firstly raising problems with your local Practice Manager or Service Leader. Otherwise, feel free to contact me and I will endeavour to assist.

Bill Irvine

UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd