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.

GMWRAG passes this on without comment.

GMWRAG noted this on Rightsnet earlier today.

“Contacted by Sky news asking for help see below for contact details:

Hello,

I am a producer at Sky, and we are making a documentary about coronavirus to go out on Sky Documentaries and Sky News later this year.

We are looking for people in various types of situation who are most affected by Covid 19 to take part. That includes people who are suffering from a sudden change to their financial situation.

If you would be potentially interested in being in the documentary, please get in touch.

Best wishes,

Liz.

Liz Lane,
Producer, Sky
07968 237 462
@lizlanesky
liz.lane@sky.uk”

Fraudulent website warning. Probably the first of many.

Apologies if you have read this elsewhere but DWP have issued this warning this week. We, sadly, have little doubt this will be the first of many.

There is a new Fraudulent website that is going round on Facebook saying

“For your free £258 award from the Government to assist you during the Coronavirus outbreak, just enter your bank details”.

The pages look authentic as a real Government website, then it may encourage people to input their personal information/bank details.

Please remind residents not to share their bank account details on any ‘possible’ Government offers on Social Media as that is not how Government Departments deliver their business. DWP Fraud teams & Police are aware of these scam websites and in the process of investigating and closing them down.

Key Messages:

  • DWP, along with many other government departments, are sometimes targeted with fraudulent activity. Please be vigilant and report any suspicious activity.
  • Do not share your personal information with anyone else, as this may be used for fraudulent activity.
  • Protecting your personal information can help reduce your risk of identity theft.
  • If you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the DWP and doubt their legitimacy – please do not share your personal information. Report any suspicious contact immediately.
  • Criminal gangs are targeting people to obtain their personal information. If in doubt, please do not share your personal information. Report any suspicious contact immediately.
  • If someone approaches you claiming to be from DWP, always ask for ID.
  • Report any suspicious contact immediately on www.actionfraud.police.uk or phone 0300 123 2040

First GM update on available welfare rights advice/representation – Stockport.

Further to our recent post about acting as a hub to detail welfare rights advice provision during this difficult period we’re pleased to be able to give you our first update, which is from Stockport Help With Benefit Appeals Team.

NB: We are painfully aware that this information may have changed pretty much by the time we post it. Please bear with us. Both the people providing the information and the people updating it are all doing the best we can in difficult circumstances. We’re happy to apologise in advance if this information falls to be out of date. 

Anyway, if you need welfare rights advice/representation in Stockport or you need to contact professional colleagues there then please note that they are all pretty much working from home at the moment.

Their details are as follows:

• No advice line as such but calls can be made to 0161 217 6003 which is the contact centre for Stockport Council and they will signposted.
• They currently deal with cases from the appeal stage unless it is a complex issue e.g. right to reside. General enquiries go to our advice centres or Citizens Advice. This service is currently changing with Citizens Advice taking over the management of it.
• The team email is benefit.appeals@stockport.gov.uk The online referral form is at https://www.stockport.gov.uk/start/request-an-appointment-for-specialist-help-with-benefit-appeals
• They are providing telephone appointments.
• Accessing post may be limited so contact by email or direct to an adviser once a case is taken via their direct number will be best.

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.

Housing Systems Briefing on Coronavirus and benefits.

Our friends at Housing Systems have put together a briefing and have asked us to specifically share it via the GMWRAG web site?

For once we’re not even nicking off Rightsnet. Housing Systems have told us what they put there and asked us to duplicate. So here you go. Simple and to the point.

Housing Systems have put together a briefing for benefits advisers
https://www.housingsystems.co.uk/News/Briefings/2020

Please note that the briefing will be updated as more information becomes available. It is very clearly and somewhat inevitably labelled “v1”.

The GM bit of GMWRAG.

GMWRAG is painfully conscious of trying to avoid being yet another source of (often duplicated) information about the many social security changes caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In light of that we’d like to offer a slightly different role.

Firstly, we’d like to offer all GM welfare rights advice services the opportunity to post information up here (and via @GMWRAGtweets) about how access to welfare rights advice has been affected and amended in light of events. Please contact us either via Twitter DM or the usual email routes if you have information about your advice lines; online referrals; opening times or any other aspect of alternative service provision.

We think this would be a good way to highlight local provision as well as innovation.

Secondly, we’d like to offer any advisers who are currently socially distancing or socially isolating the opportunity to write about the experience from the perspective of being an adviser; trying to keep a service going and trying to not stress out.

This can be as long or as short as you want. In many ways the longer the better. This is your opportunity to describe what the front line currently looks like. We fully appreciate we may get no responses at all at present as people work flat out to maintain something like a status quo. However, the offer is there.

You can email us re: either of the above at

GMWRAG

at

hotmail

dot

co

dot

uk

We absolutely cannot guarantee our responsiveness at present but we’ll certainly do the best we can.

URGENT: North West Mental Health WRAs Group meeting has been cancelled and re-arranged.

The meeting of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group on the 27th March 2020 has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The speaker, Susan Perry, Team Leader at DWP Disability Services, has agreed to re-schedule for Friday the 29th of May 2020.

This meeting remains at 9.30am for 10am at Greater Manchester Law Centre as per our previous post.

A reminder and further confirmation nearer the time.