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COVID's impact on UC delivery & landlords' ability to assist tenants and manage rent arrears!

Good Afternoon

The COVID crisis, coupled with the Government’s lockdown response, has caused the number of Universal Credit awards to increase from 2.8 million in February 2020 to, in excess of 6 million today, with around 100,000 awards being added each month. Although Furloughed and Self-employed financial measures have been extended, economic forecasters are predicting the unemployment rate could rise to somewhere between 7-10% by the end of this year. This, in itself, could add a further 2-3 million claimants to DWP’s caseload,with another 3 million, waiting in the wings, to be transferred under Managed Migration (i.e. existing legacy claimants).

DWP staff are now delivering UC primarily from their homes and that’s likely to continue for some time. This, and the increased volume of claims, has caused chaos to normal lines of communication. Getting through on the phone involves lengthy delays with no guarantee staff willl share information. DWP’s insistence of tenants reporting changes via their “journals” has put many “vulnerabe” tenants at great disadvantage, with many failing to report changes in their circumstances and/or not responding to DWP initiated “To-do’s”, causing suspensions and cancellations of their award. Around 20% of all new claims fail at the initial claim stage. All of this is already having a detrimental effect to rent collection and arrears, especially on councils and to a lesser extent on Housing Associations.

The following course has been specifically developed to assist frontline staff respond to these challenges. It can be delivered via Zoom, in a 3 hour session, from 10-1pm. Ideally, we would like to restrict delegate numbers to no more than 12 per session, to allow maximum delegate participation.


COVID's impact on UC delivery & landlords' ability to assist tenants and manage rent arrears!

Timetable (Course can also be delivered from 2 pm)

10.00 Introduction

11.10 Impact of COVID on numbers of awards & DWP’s delivery

*Rise in claimant numbers due to COVID; Natural and forced migration rules.

*New claim issues/validation/verification of income/claimant commitment, Benefit Assessment Period/Pay days

*Cause of 20% of claims failing/how to challenge/revise or supersede the award/explicit consent/using the tenant’s journal to communicate

*How Non-dependant rules differ in relation to Housing Benefit & Universal Credit

*Asking DWP to revise an award due to; wrongly refused initial claim; wrongly assessed award; tenant’s change in circumstances; wrongly applied non-dependant charge; “untidy tenancies”; overpayment demand; or “Third Party” rent arrears application being wrongly refused.

*How to to assist tenant make Mandatory Reconsideration/Appeal

ENDS – 1 pm



COVID's impact on UC delivery & landlords' ability to assist tenants and manage rent arrears!

The course should be of interest to experienced, frontline housing officers, income management, financial inclusion, benefits advice staff and HA Board Members.

Bill Irvine


“Bill worked with Wheatley Group right throughout the roll out of Universal Credit Full service across Glasgow and Edinburgh. He delivered training to over 300 housing officers through a series of small interactive events that really brought a wealth of knowledge to our staff, with some good practical tips and tools about how best to help our customers. We were really impressed with Bill’s insight and the breadth of information his course covered. While UC is never going to be easy for any landlord, thanks to Bill, our staff feel much more confident about this complex and challenging issue.”

  • Liam Spence, Wheatley Group –

Universal Credit is such a huge issue for us and our tenants and we need to be sure that we give the correct advice and support to help people manage the changes.

We have recently had Bill train our frontline staff. The sessions were extremely informative. The feedback from staff has been excellent. The sessions were relaxed, informal with plenty of opportunities for discussion.

Bill has vast knowledge and experience to draw on, the real life examples of cases is particularly useful to put things into context. The sessions could have been dull as the subject matter can sometimes be a bit dry but Bill’s enthusiasm for the subject and detailed knowledge meant we were all kept interested and focused.

I look forward to further sessions in the coming months.

Joy Watson Tenant Services Manager, Hillcrest Group