20th September, 2013
Now that the Parliamentary recess has ended I expect you’ll start to see much more activity on the Welfare Reform front. Certainly, the DWP Press Office was tweeting away yesterday, no doubt trying to dampen down David Orr’s demands for the “Bedroom Tax” to be scrapped.
Within a matter of minutes it released a series of tweets suggesting; the DHP fund’s adequacy and proper use is being monitored; providing justification for the “withdrawal of the under-occupation subsidy” and commentary suggesting 80% of “housing costs” is still being met by Housing Benefit despite the changes.
DWP Twitter quotes and Press Office https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-work-pensions :
1. “We are carefully monitoring policy to ensure the £190m extra funds to support vulnerable tenants though welfare reforms are used well”.
2. “The taxpayer can no longer afford to pay for people to live in properties larger than they need”.
3. “Even after reform we pay over 80% of most claimants’ housing benefit”.
4. “Removal of the spare room subsidy is a necessary reform to return fairness to housing benefit”.
In addition, again though Twitter, it provided a link to its latest Universal Credit “How to Claim” webpage (see https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/overview ).
Most of what’s there is not new but there clearly has been some progress made since the previous version. It provides a window which explains the stages in the claim process. At this time it’s only relevant to those newly unemployed in the Path-finding areas of Ashton-under-Lyne, Wigan Warrington etc. No one else can use it because it’s geared to only the prescribed postal districts. But nevertheless it’s worth examination.
This version also includes some interesting information on the new “Appeals” process, which includes a “mandatory reconsideration” stage which must be pursued before an appeal can be lodged directly to the Tribunal Service. See https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/appeals
It also provides a PDF of the appeal documentation which will be used by those wishing to pursue the matter to a tribunal and includes sections for representatives. Again, worth a look, even if it might be some while before your staff, routinely starts using this for Universal Credit purposes. I’ve uploaded onto the website www.ucadvice.co.uk for future reference, but note; the process doesn’t affect Housing Benefit challenges at present.