Good morning

I recently received notification of a successful Universal Credit appeal outcome, in which the Judge referred to DWP’s muddled mishandling of the case, which had taken nearly two years to resolve. Having secured the desired result for both my tenant & landlord clients, I was anxious to conclude all remianing issues quickly.

On receipt of Tribunal’s decision, I wrote immediately to DWP’s Director General (DG) seeking his intervention, in anticipation, this would help bring, what had been a fiasco of a case, to a swift & final conclusion, with payment of £2500 of “housing costs element” being made direct to the landlord. The landlord had resisted eviction action, due to the tenant having severe mental health issues and the fact, we had organised “direct payments” to the landlord (APA) from the end of November 2018.

To his credit, the DG immediately forwarded the case to the appropriate Area Director and from there, it percolated down, to frontline troops. During this process, the Tribunal Service’s attachments, including the Tribunal Judge’s decision, were omitted. As days passed, I contacted the local management and was assured everything was being done and that I would receive a full response the following day.

When, finally, it arrived, it said – “sorry, but due to “GDPR” we can’t tell you anything! As a landlord or Letting Agent involved with DWP’s Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA) scheme, you’ll be familiar with that same lame excuse, used in APA refusals, time & time again!

In my case, I was the registered appointed representative, who had actually sent the appeal outcome documents to DWP management. All appeals are duty bound to be signed by the appellant (the tenant in this case). My name, address etc. are on the letter from the Tribunal Service and I’m referred to as rep, in the decision notification from the Judge. Furthermore, I wasn’t asking DWP to disclose to me any “personal information” – this was unnecessary, and most of which was already known to me, in any case!

All I was asking DWP to do, was straightforward, and entirely sensible, given what had happend in the 2 years preceeding:

  1. Ensure payment, amounting to £000’s would be made quickly, and in the case of the “housing costs” (£2500) direct to the landlord, as all other payments, from November 2018, had been paid; and
  2. Avoid a situation, where payment of the “housing costs” was made direct to the tenant and subsequently misused, as happens all too often, even though APAs are in place.

Despite my pleas to Management, the final response stated:

“As we confirmed in our previous correspondence, we are unable to communicate with you on the details of this case as we do not have the customer’s consent to do so. However, I can assure you that we have worked directly with our customer to fully resolve any outstanding issues and we therefore now consider the case to be closed.

Both highlighted statements are untrue. DWP simply pressed ahead without any consideration; ignoring my requests, despite the fact an APA was already in place; and paid the tenant the full backdated award, amounting to £000’s of public funds; the vast majority of which represented “housing costs”.

But for the fact, I had alerted the landlord, to what was happening; prompting him to visit the tenant on the day she received payment; and waited until the bank transfer cleared; this could have been yet another catastrophe, with the landlord losing out £000’s unnecessarily!

Bill Irvine

UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd