Following its two previous reports Universal Credit: early progress (in September 2013) and Universal Credit: progress update, (November 2014) the NAO is commencing a third study examining whether the DWP is on course to make the full service available in all jobcentres by September 2018 and to transfer existing claimants by March 2022. Anyone remember when UC was going to all be sorted 2018 or did we hallucinate that?
Evidence can be emailed direct to the study team (the director of this work will be Joshua Reddaway and there are two audit managers – Caroline Harper and Andy Nichols), presumably because if they set up an office there would be insufficient space to queue!
The report is due in Spring 2018 and will assess whether universal credit is delivering its objectives and the impact on claimants and local stakeholders.
Evidence for the study can be emailed to the study team via email@example.com putting the study title in the subject line. The team will consider the evidence you provide; however, please note that due to the volume of information they receive they may not respond to you directly. If you need to raise a concern please use their contact form
GMWRAG has exhausted itself electing a new GM (Greater Manchester NOT genetically modified!) Mayor and has little enthusiasm for closely tracking the forthcoming General Election. However, we’re happy to point our members to a few resources which will help you do so if you wish. It is already very noticeable that this is not going to be an election in which welfare reform and poverty are at the top of anyone’s list.
The BBC have helpfully produced an election tracker, which you can find at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2017-39844115 or by clicking the magic words in this sentence. “Welfare” comes in at 11th on the number of things they’re tracking although you could argue that “Pensions” coming in at 5th has some significance! Lots of tabloids are tracking little more than who the pundits think will win but you could invest some of your diminishing faith in pollsters following the excess of statistics at Electoral Calculus.
Of more interest our friends at Rightsnet have identified at least three suggestions for manifestos. GMWRAG thinks it’s worthwhile digesting all three but may wonder out loud whatever happened to campaigning to change things rather than asking for tweaks to the status quo? Can Universal Credit ever be made to work, or make work pay (as opposed to merely function in the former case!)? No mention of the mess which is the Benefit Cap or even DHPs!
A number of GMWRAG members have brought it to our attention that there has been a nosedive in the number of awards of Severe Disability Premium (SDP) since the introduction of Personal Independence Payment (PIP). This has apparently been confirmed via a Freedom of Information request and appears to be related to the removal of SDP from Universal Credit (UC) and a policy intent to not check for SDP entitlement UC takes hold.
It’s worth remembering that checking for entitlement to means-tested benefits in specific scenarios remains an obligation regardless of policy intentions and future changes. See, CE277/2014 for but one example.
The above would also explain why a number of members have reported having to repeatedly send in IS 10s or their equivalent as forms mysteriously drop into some kind of abyss. If GMWRAG members can cast this drop off in any different light please let us know but we thought we’d flag it up after several members highlighted numerous issues fully explained by a policy change e.g. SDP forms going missing; SDP forms taking an age to be processed unless constantly chased; SDP being refused incorrectly or refusing to issue forms in the first place.
Do you have any clients who will be affected by the recent legislative changes to Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit due to come into effect 6 April 2017?
The Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 introduced fundamental changes to Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit, limiting child tax credit and universal credit to the first two children in a household. These changes, commonly known as the 2 child rule, will come into force from the 6th of April 2017 together with certain exceptions and transitional arrangements set out in recently published regulations.
The Child Poverty Action Group is looking into the possible routes of legal challenge to the 2 child rule and would like your help in locating potential claimants who would be affected by this rule and who would be willing to be part of a CPAG legal challenge.
CPAG is looking in general for:
Any family already claiming benefits with two children and looking to have more in the near future
But also the following particular types of households which may be unfairly affected by the rule (though this is not an exhaustive list of examples):
Two lone parent household units already with two children each considering forming a single ‘blended family’ arrangement because the adults have become a couple;
An individual or couple caring for one or two ‘kinship’ children but contemplating having children of their own;
A family which, when the children were born, did not require state support but now has a need to because of an unexpected change in circumstances (e.g. loss of a job); and
A parent who is religiously or philosophically opposed to birth control.
If you can help, please complete the attached test case referral form (save it to your computer first) and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
GMWRAGs friends (yes, GMWRAG has friends) at Rightsnet towers have alerted us to the new widget/thingumabob from our slightly more distant friends at LASA (much bigger towers) and the LITRG (no idea if they have towers. They do tax so, presumably a bunker!). Together they have produced a new and simple way to check the current state of play regarding Universal Credit in your area. Can you claim? What are the gateway conditions? Indeed what ARE the gateway conditions?
This new whatchamacallit is actually called http://universalcreditinfo.net and you will notice it’s very big and very green. We like one of these things. The idea that “green for go” could ever be associated with Universal Credit seems lacking in credibility and has amused us no end. It’s a sad sign of the times that it simply hasn’t occurred to DWP to do anything this competent. Instead you could use this!
No, we thought not…
There is also the enticingly titled “widget”, which allows you to post some “code” on your web site and have a tiny version of the site and the post code search appear on your site. Sadly, we couldn’t get it to work on our site! If you want to be better than us then you can find that at http://universalcreditinfo.net/about/widget.
NB: Those nice peeps at Rightsnet have since made it clear that, because the widget uses an “iframe” then we are techically “stuffed”. Well, that’s not exactly what they said but… being a blog platform hosted by WordPress means that we can’t show you the widget.
We are immensely gratified that the WordPress spell checker accepted “whatchamacallit” without question by the way! This augers well for future flippancy.