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Universal Credit - In-house half-day update for staff & members!

Good day,

Universal Credit “Full Service” is now operating in all areas, UK wide, with a current total of 1.4 million already claiming. Each month a further 100,000 will be added producing a further influx of tenants transitioning to UC and looking for support. Is your organisation ready for the challenge?

As well as the advice & training we offer, we’re now providing advocacy support to staff members, as we discover a growing number of cases, where, despite the best efforts of tenants & staff alike, “bread & butter” issues are being completely misconstrued and mishandled by DWP staff, depriving, in many cases, tenants and landlords of much needed income & rental income.

Unsurprisingly, Social Landlords are now more anxious to secure an operational understanding of the new scheme for managers, income management, advice providers, councillors, board & committee members. In particular, they want these staff (and members) to fully appreciate, how some of the new scheme’s key components, hidden complexities and anomalies, can adversely impact on the organisation’s income stream, cause extra demands on resources and frustrate cashflow and the ability of the organisation itself to meet its financial commitments.

Association staff and members, already well aware of how important the current Housing Benefit scheme is to rental collection and rent arrears management, need to appreciate the extent to which the new scheme is different, especially where it’s less generous and/or likely to be problematic in so far as it:

a) Creates extra demands on frontline staff, especially, in relation to how they interact with those  tenants needing advice & assistance with online claims and subsequent changes in their household circumstances, which need to be reported online and timeously; and

b) Makes it more difficult for tenants and staff alike to communicate with an arms-length DWP and create effective liaison arrangements with the administrators of “alternative payment arrangements” and “rent arrears” deductions; and

c) Where problems arise from late/non-payment of rent, how staff need to adopt a proactive and very much more hands-on approach, to help avoid tenants falling into rent arrears and the need for repossession and enforcement action and the costs associated with this.

With this in mind, we offer an in-house half-day course, presented by Bill Irvine, ex Head of Housing Services, former advisor to HB Standing Committee, Westminster, and CIH tutor. Bill has specialist knowledge & experience, gained over 30+ years, mainly focused on the correlation between benefit maximisation and rent arrears management. He actively encourages landlord/tenant collaboration and points to how landlords advocating on behalf of their tenants can mitigate potential losses in rental income and minimise demands for more resources. With experience gained, over the past three years, through assisting RSLs in the initial Full Service rollout, he is able to explain, from an operational standpoint, how to anticipate and tackle problems caused by the vagaries of the new system and a DWP administration & service delivery, which is very much a work-in-progress, not to mention, remote and oftentimes ambivalent to the concerns of tenant and landlords alike.

In terms of dates, we would recommend something April – September 2019, by which time, the Full Service system should be well established in your area. From July 2019 we’ll also start to see the first “Managed Pilot” transfers from “legacy” claims to UCFS .

If you’d like more detail on this course e-mail bill@ucadvice.co.uk or phone 01698 424301 or 07733 080 389.

Bill Irvine