5th March, 2018
In earlier bulletins, I’ve explained how to raise queries and make complaints to DWP, concerning Universal Credit administration processes, where problems of delays, mistakes or non-payment of Managed Payment to Landlords (MPTLs) or Third-Party Payments (TPPs – 4 weekly payments to reduce rent arrears) occur.
Despite the withdrawal of “explicit consent” on 20th December 2017, many landlords (Social & Private) continue to complain of delays and mistakes, relating to the processing of these critical sources of rental income for landlords. More recently, complaints have focused on the way the housing costs element has been miscalculated. I refer to mistakes, such as these in recent bulletins e.g. http://universalcreditadvice.com/housing-associations/2018/04/housing-costs-contributions-alert
Attempts to progress-chase requests and/or challenge poor decisions, by phone, rarely produce the desired effect or take ages to accomplish. In my experience, only by querying or complaining, by e-mail, and retaining an audit trail, do things get done quicker & better, for the most part.
Querying or Progress-chasing?
If you’re pursuing the interest of one of your tenants, make use of the tenant’s online journal, obviously, with their permission. This is something DWP is heavily promoting and can actualy be very effective.
Contrastingly, if your questioning, with the tenant’s “explicit consent”, recorded on their journal, the amount of an award relating to “housing costs”; or, when you’re likely to hear of your APA request; or, when you can expect payment; the best route to success is undoubtedly e-mail.
I rarely, if ever, phone DWP because, I’ve found the process very slow, frustrating and, mostly, ineffective. Instead, I e-mail, the Local Practice (liaison responsibility) or District Manager who has responsibility for the frontline troops, including Decision Makers. If I’m pursuing a complaint, I e-mail the local CRT
If you don’t already know who your District Manager, is, or CRT, or who to escalate to, check this list of DWP & external contacts, I’ve created, for this purpose.
The list includes:
- District, Partnership & Service Managers; and
- Complaints & Resolution Teams
- Director General’s HQ team
- Independent Case Examiner
Once you’ve decided how best to approach your issue: – a) query; b) challenge a decision; c) complain; then brace yourself for a wait. DWP rarely responds, within its published timescales, and, if anything, the delays are getting longer, as Full Service starts to bite. As well as being patient, you need to be diligent and dogged to secure the desired result. If you’re not, your query or complaint is likely to go into a state of limbo until you prompt action again.
In urgent cases, I often write directly to DWP HQ (e-mail on list) and, I have to say, that has generally worked, as long as you’re patient. On occasions, I write directly to Neil Couling, Director General, especially, where I’ve come up against the “DWP Brick Wall” I first wrote about in 2011.
For routine Stage 1 complaints, I e-mail the CRT contact (see your local team e-mail on list) and usually allow DWP no more than 15 working days, before I follow up.
If DWP’s response is poor or there’s no reply, within a further 15 days I send a 2nd Stage complaint to DWP’s Director General’s office. DWP doesn’t like this approach as it doesn’t square with its published process. However, when you’re representing tenant or landlord, pressing DWP, in this way, can be productive, whereas, simply waiting for DWP usually doesn’t work. Oftentimes, in my early exchanges, complaints had a habit of ending up in “sleep mode” and had I not prompted DWP further, in all likelihood, the case would never have been properly prosecuted to a conclusion.
When e-mailing DWP, put in the subject matter, words like: “APA progress update”; Award Query” or “Formal Complaint” but nothing else. In the body of the e-mail you should provide all the details of the tenant, address, NINO, DOB etc. or your landlord reference number, a summary of your concerns and the issues still to be addressed.
Website members can also access my recent bulletins, including standard templates, covering: a) How to make a Mandatory Reconsideration; b) How to Appeal; c) How to challenge Overpayment demands http://universalcreditadvice.com/housing-associations/subsection/guidance
I hope this note helps your understanding of how best to pursue DWP for answers and outcomes to queries, APA requests and complaints.
If you need anything further, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07733 080 389.
UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd