Returning Members

Please Click Here

Introduction to Universal Credit for new & inexperienced staff


This course has been designed to impress on, new & inexperienced staff, working in housing & income management teams, and new recruits to welfare rights, money advice & financial inclusion, the increasing importance of Universal Credit’s “housing costs element” to your tenants’ ability to meet their rent liabilities and your organisation’s ambition to maximise rental revenue with minimal need for any recovery action.

Operating in a COVID environment, has been difficult for all parties, including DWP, with the claimant numbers doubling overnight. The majority DWP’s staff  working from home, has, if anything, made the process of claiming, making claiming commitments, and validating evidence to support claims, all the more difficult, especially for inexperienced & vulnerable tenants. Increasingly, many councils and housing associations have been reporting, increasing levels of rent arrears, due to their tenants struggling with the challenges of dealing with DWP at arms length, especially in relation to making claims, validating information, agreeing “claimant commitments” over the telephone, notifying changes in circumstances & responding to queries from Work Coaches & Case Managers via online journals.

Understanding the UC claim process and how best to ensure accounts are maintained via the online journal can avoid delays, suspensions, payment issues and disputes that can often lead to debt accruing. Staff do not need to be welfare benefit experts to make a significant difference. The course content and Q & A delivery will provide delegates with the necessary knowledge to assist their tenant clients navigate the expectations & demands posed by this new “flagship” benefit.

The course has been specifically developed to assist frontline staff respond to these challenges. It can be delivered via Zoom or Microsoft teams, if that’s your preference, in a 3 hour session, from 10am-1pm, or 1 – 4pm with a 20 minute break. Ideally, we would like to restrict delegate numbers to no more than 12 per session, to allow maximum delegate participation.

Course Programme

The course covers:

* What is universal credit, what does it replace, who & how to claim and ensure a positive outcome.

* How you can best help tenants maintain their claim, notify changes, challenge poor decisions via telephone discussions and exchanges, with their Work Coach and Case Manager through the online journal.

* Explaining the calculation process via worked examples of typical cases.

* How to assess the “housing costs element”, non-dependent deductions, “untidy” tenancies, temporary absences in hospital, residential care and secure discretionary housing payments for any shortfalls that might exist

*Areas of the scheme likely to cause difficulties; how to best to communicate with Case Managers & pursue revision requests, complaints and appeal process, with a view to helping your tenant minimise rent arrears.

The course will be delivered via Zoom in two segments with a 20 minute comfort/coffee break


The content of this course would best suit, new and/or less experienced members of housing, finance, welfare rights, money advice & financial inclusion. It would also be appropriate for Committee & Board Members.

At the end of the session, delegates will receive a copy of the PP presentation slides, which include various links to other websites and Government Advice & Guidance on this complex topic.

Tutor - Bill Irvine

Bill spent 30 years in local government, holding senior positions in Social Work, Housing & Finance. He retired as Head of Housing Services (Benefits, Revenues & Advice) at one of the UK’s largest councils. In 2008 he became a Board Member of Trust HA Ltd and the SFHA and the following year set up a new consultancy business “Housing Benefit Advice & Advocacy” offering advice, training and advocacy to RSL’s and private landlords throughout the UK.

In January 2010 he was invited to provide written and oral evidence to the DWP Local Housing Allowance Inquiry, Westminster, with some of his recommendations being adopted as “best practice”. He now represents RSL’s, Private Landlords, and their tenants, in disputes about Housing Benefit & Universal Credit, before First and Upper-tier HB tribunals, with some of his cases becoming new “caselaw”.

Since January 2012 he has been at the forefront of Universal Credit training for both SRS and Private Sector landlords, on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Housing, Residential Landlords Association, individual Housing Associations , Vountary and Charitible bodies, UK wide.

He now operates  publishes & distributes regular monthly updating bulletins expalining new polices, practices and caselaw, relating to Universal Credit to more than 1300 registered subscribers.