Good morning

Regular readers of our bulletins responded to our recent story about the tenant of Cairn Housing Association who received the backdate of £25,000 and weekly increase in his income of £66 per week.

Many praised the efforts of the Tenancy Sustainment officer who had identified and diligently pursued the claim with DWP. Others e-mailed us to say, the case study account helped them identify copy-cat cases from their own caseload who were similarly losing out, although maybe not for las long a period.

Well, the same team at Cairn has unearthed and helped another of their tenants; this time producing £13,513.84 of a backdate (covering 3 years of underpayment) with the bonus of an additional £336 pcm to boot!

The tenant in this case was a young man, suffering from cerebral palsy and confined to a wheelchair. He had reported dampness in his home. His landlord’s Maintenance Team visited and discovered his problem was caused by him failing to properly heat the property, due to his low income. As well as giving him advice, they referred him to their Tenancy Sustainment colleagues, who quickly identified the large shortfall in his monthly Universal Credit Award.

The shortfall was directly caused by DWP as it was its staff that had helped him complete his application for Universal Credit. However, when completing the claim, they had failed to acknowledge the degree of his disability, overlooking to tick the box that questioned his “limited capability for work”.

His Universal Credit case manager was contacted. He immediately acknowledged there was a problem and undertook to sort it. The tenant was asked to submit a backdated “fit note” confirming his limited capacity for work. The GP rightly said he couldn’t provide a backdated note but was willing to provide a supporting letter confirming his life-long incapacity. DWP also insisted on one of its medical questionnaires being completed, which the GP assisted with.

After a wait of fully 6 months, DWP confirmed its willingness to place him in the Support Group and pay the higher LCW element in his award but overlooked the question of his request for retrospective revision, just as they had missed the importance of his obvious physical disabilities, through the 3 years he had been attending “work search interviews”.

Fortunately, the same Tenancy Sustainment officer, that dealt with the earlier case, was involved. He submitted a Mandatory Reconsideration. Four weeks later the young man received notification of his large windfall and significant increase in monthly award.

Another great outcome, but something that shouldn’t have been necessary, if DWP had handled his case correctly from the outset. The sad thing is, there’s many more vulnerable UC claimants, caught in exactly the same predicament. Most are not being picked up during or even after the migration process, unless someone stumbles across their case, and is alert and knowledgeable enough, to recognise their plight, the potential solution and willing to support them through the tortuous process of resolving matters with a hapless DWP administration.

If you have any queries about this or any other Welfare Reform matter, please get in touch through the website www.ucadvice.co.uk or by email bill@ucadvice.co.uk

Bill Irvine

UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd