Commission on Social Security consultation launched.

The Commission on Social Security held an event last week to propose some changes to our current system. These are up for consultation until the 30th of September 2020. Broad details can be found at the excellent DNS site. The Commission blog can be found at the preceding link whilst the original launch event can be found here. Anyone wishing to respond to the consultation can do so at https://warwick.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/preview/SV_8ku7Q6sluYLvFfD?Q_CHL=preview&Q_SurveyVersionID=current If you would like to be involved in a small-scale discussion Zoom or if your group would like something tailored to its particular requirements please contact Michael Orton. In brief the proposals are The Commission’s headline proposals are

  • A Guaranteed Decent Income of £222 for a single adult and £322 for a couple (paid on an individual not household basis).
  • Child Benefit of £50 per child per week.
  • An entirely new start on Disability Benefit. + principles, underpinning points and links with other policy areas.

The proposals offer a hugely simplified but comprehensive approach, with much more realistic benefit rates. • The consultation form is here. • • The full recording of the event is available here (apologies that the first few seconds are missing). • For further information about the Commission click here.

Greater Manchester Welfare Reform Dashboard – an update

Those of you with long memories (or nothing better to do) may recall we have posted previously about the excellent GM Welfare Reform Dashboard was back in March 2019. It was good then. It’s even better now and you can see the latest version here. It is updated monthly.

Those of you who like long urls can rejoice with

https://www.gmtableau.nhs.uk/t/GMCA/views/WelfareReformDashboardQ12020/WelfareReformDashboardQ12020?:iid=1&:isGuestRedirectFromVizportal=y&:embed=y.

That’s why we prefer “here”.

If you want to more about GMCA you can find that “here“.

Housing Systems online workshop on “Lost Job? Benefits during COVID-19”.

Sadly, many people have lost their jobs during the Coronavirus outbreak. With changes to the Job Retention Scheme that mean employers will have to contribute more towards their employees’ wages, we may well see even more.

We have already heard that many of those finishing work have lost out financially due to being given the wrong benefit advice.

This interactive case study based Workshop will answer all the key questions:

Is Universal Credit someone’s only option? Is it their best option?
How do the different payments at the end of a job affect benefit entitlement?

What if someone can get New Style Jobseekers Allowance?

The Workshop will use real life examples to investigate the key benefits someone finishing work can claim, what claimants need to do and the problems they may encounter.

By the end of the Workshop delegates will have a better understanding of the different benefits available to someone finishing work, what options they may have and what they should consider when choosing which option is best for them.

The workshop takes place on the Wednesday the 17th of June 2020 between 10am – and 12 noon. It costs £49+vat per delegate. Bookings can be made by emailing Housing Systems at training@housingsystems.co.uk.

They will need:

  • The name of the Workshop you would like to book.
  • The date of your chosen Workshop.
  • The name and job title of the delegate.
  • Their email address.
  • Invoice details ie who to send it to (and any PO number required).

NOTE: Bookings will be taken on a first come first served basis.

Greater Manchester Law Centre have produced a Covid-19 Survival Guide.

Greater Manchester Law Centre has developed a survival kit to support residents and front-line organisations assisting people through the current public health crisis. You can download a pdf copy here.

• The GMLC Survival Kit includes comprehensive information to help people protect things such as their homes and jobs, explaining people’s rights and clear ways to enforce them. They will be regularly updating this guide through their website.

To ensure you are up to date with changes as and when they occur you can access the live version here – https://www.gmlaw.org.uk/covid-19-survival-guide/.

Please feel free to share and circulate.
• They are running a telephone advice service for people wanting advice on housing, employment and benefits issues.

This service is open Monday – Friday, 10am – 3pm.

Please call 0161 769 2244, or alternatively you can send your enquiry via email: housing@gmlaw.org.uk or benefits@gmlaw.org.uk.

If you require any further information please contact at jasontetley@gmlaw.org.uk

Leigh Day call for evidence re disabled students and universal credit.

This just in from Leigh Day.

Tessa Gregory and Lucy Cadd from the law firm Leigh Day. are bringing a judicial review challenge to the DWP’s policy which prevents disabled students from making a claim to UC. They are seeking further evidence to support the judicial review (in the form of case studies).

Students are disqualified from making a claim to UC. However, Regulation 14(b) Universal Credit Regulations 2013 provides exceptions to the requirement not to be receiving education. In the case of their client, the relevant exception is that she is in receipt of a qualifying benefit (attendance allowance, disability living allowance or personal independence payment), in her case being PIP. The exception stipulates that she must also have been determined to have limited capability for work (LCW). However, UC will not offer students who do not yet have a LCW determination, a WCA.

Therefore on making her claim for UC, the client was told that a work capability assessment would not be provided for her in order for her to be determined as LCW and her claim for UC was closed.

The Secretary of State’s policy ‘Students: eligibility, conditionality and student income – v 16.0 (2019)’ states that the exception in Reg14(b) only applies to disabled individuals who have already been determined as having LCW and who are seeking to become students. The exemption therefore does not apply to disabled students who attempt to claim UC whilst already undertaking a course of study.

They would be very interested to hear of others who are in a similar position to their client. If there are people you have represented who have been in the same or similar situation they would be extremely grateful if you could provide a short summary of their situation to us (gaining their prior authority to do so). They are seeking supportive case studies for the judicial review.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require any further information. Our contact details are Tessa Gregory – tgregory@leighday.co.uk and Lucy Cadd – lcadd@leighday.co.uk.

Bedroom Talk.

In amongst the veritable storm of information GMWRAG members have no doubt found themselves on the end of in the past week or more it has been noted that very little has explicitly mentioned the potential impact Covid-19 has on Bedroom Tax. Self-isolation certainly raises the issue of exemption albeit how long for is a question yet to be answered. Presumably a minimum of 14 days would be inarguable if the consequence of self-isolation was separate bedrooms and longer if the virus were to then spread to household members in turn.

It does raise the thorny issue of whether separate bedrooms might be irrelevant if the virus were to spread within a household but there’s surely something to be looked at here?

We note the issue has been raised on Rightsnet with minimal comment. However, we’d be interested in raising what’s in danger of becoming a forgotten issue in the current maelstrom and we’d be especially interested in whether GMWRAG members are busy testing this out.

Usual deal. Contact GMWRAG by emailing us at

GMWRAG

at

Hotmail

Dot

Co

Dot

UK

And yes, doing it with that formatting really does help reduce our spam emails. We look forward to hearing from you.

An update from our friends at Leigh Day.

GMWRAG was doubtless amongst many who received a recent update from Leigh Day. This is a timely reminder of how strategic casework might never be more relevant. However, as the email began with “Alright…” some editing was in order 🙂

They think we are going to have a lot of work on unpicking the government response to Coronavirus, in particular in relation to the administration of benefits. A lot of people are going to become reliant on benefits for the first time and potentially for an extended period of time.

They have one JR already in relation to the requirement for ‘self-employed’ workers to claim UC rather than get SSP or benefit from furlough payments (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/mar/22/rishi-sunak-under-pressure-to-bail-out-self-employed)

They are looking at the failure to raise legacy benefits in line with what has been done with UC. If GMWRAG members know of any rare person who is entitled SDP and self employed and also on legacy benefits they would be perfect for this but anyone impacted could potentially claim.

They would also be interested to know if any JCP’s are sanctioning people for failing to comply with conditionality at this time.

Welfare benefits advisers are going to be the first people to see the impact of any issues the changes made are having on the benefits system. If you spot anything you think is particularly grim and/or widespread and worth a challenge and want to talk it through please do let them know.

CPAG looking for payment on account test cases.

Apologies if you’ve already had an email from CPAG on this but these things need the highest possible profile (and besides our posts are better because they include actual links :)).

CPAG is looking for cases where a claimant was awarded a payment on account at the start of their claim, which is now being recovered at more than 15% of their standard allowance.

The DWP have said that they do not believe that reg 11(2) of the Social Security (Overpayments and Recovery) Regulations 2013, which sets the maximum rate of deduction at 15%, applies to payments on account of benefit.

CPAG is looking for a suitable case to challenge this, as they are aware that a number of claimants are affected by high deductions. Please submit a referral form or email: testcases@cpag.org.uk

This sounds like the plot of a potential EastEnders episode but sadly it isn’t.

NAWRA has been contacted by a BBC journalist looking at options for pieces relating to young people

  • being asked to leave their parent’s home
  • (or experiencing conflict or becoming homeless)

because of parents losing benefits, particularly where the young person has disengaged from the social security system. This illustrates problems with the cliff edge around the loss of familial benefits such as Child Benefit and Child Tax Credits/Universal Credit for children and then a potential double whammy of the non-dependant deduction being applied to HB or UC housing costs.

The journalist is looking for young people (ideally aged 18 and under) and parents in this position. He may also want to speak with experts and is looking for people who would be happy to discuss the issues faced by young people and their low income parents that you and your team encounter on a day to day basis.

If you would like to get involved please email

kelly

at

nawra

dot

org

dot

uk

and she will pass your details on.

First dumbass to point out that the email is formatted oddly will win no prize. This is a means of avoiding spam bots etc. picking up email addresses and deluging them with spam.