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Latest press reports on UC

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Brian S
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Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Andrew Dutton
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Andrew Dutton
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https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/oct/26/universal-credit-six-week-wait-key-obstacle-to-its-success-mps-say

I do worry that a reduction in the 6-week wait will be offered, and everyone will be expected to shut up and be happy.

Whenever I get a moment, I am adding to a list of problems built-in to UC, ones that go beyond the waiting period and which have not received any general publicity.

The list is only bullet-points, but it is already 4 pages long and it is growing.

Peter Turville
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Andrew Dutton - 26 October 2017 10:36 AM

Whenever I get a moment, I am adding to a list of problems built-in to UC, ones that go beyond the waiting period and which have not received any general publicity.

The list is only bullet-points, but it is already 4 pages long and it is growing.

andrew - would you be happy to paste it on Rightsnet. we are thinking of doing the same for local MPs etc. no need to re invent the wheel!

Mick Quinn
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Fully agree!

Andrew Dutton
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Here goes - I’ve removed some repetition but it’s still in as-it-occurred -to-me order:


Problems with Universal Credit October 2017

• replaces only six benefits, still has to interact with the remainder of the existing system (impression still given it’s taking over everything)
• DWP are still having problems allowing claims for Contribution-Based benefits and giving confused advice about eligibility
• insistence on online-only claims causes problems to those who do not own and cannot operate computers
• ‘Universal Support’ is vague and variable
• some severely disabled claimants will never be able to develop IT skills and will always be disadvantaged by full service UC
• people who require corporate deputyship/appointeeship are especially disadvantaged and there seems to be no practical way to manage their claims and no policy for doing this
• some claims/groups need to be from UC until problems are solved – DWP can do this under Reg 4 UC (Transitional Provisions) Regs
• UC backdating rules are extremely limited, and exclude such matters as incorrect advice from DWP
• Rules for live service claimants changing to full service- claims will be stopped if claimants do not comply with instructions – is this lawful?
• Annual review – claims will be stopped if claimants do not comply– why is this needed when there is monthly review?
• APAs not offered quickly and slow to implement
• 6-week wait for payment – and longer
• Monthly structure ignores those who are paid other than monthly, evidence ignored on this
• Waiting days mean NO entitlement, many people have no money at all and this creates 1 week of rent arrears etc which they will never get back
• rent element delays and eviction problems
• incorrect payments when they do come through
• UC advances are repayable, are not an entitlement (no appeal on refusal) and claimants are only eligible for them if they can prove extreme need such as no food or heating
• closure of claims for not making/attending JC+ appointments – not lawful
• claimants migrated from ESA being asked to produce MED3 letters when these are not needed or wait for WCA to get relevant UC element when this should be payable from start of first assessment period
• UC appears not to tell the Jobcentres when claimants have LCW/LCWRA
• Claimant Commitments for people with health problems are still set too high and people with sick notes can still face full conditionality
• WCAs appear to be delayed far beyond week 13
• levels of deductions for rent arrears are too high and cause hardship
• deductions for 3rd party debt can leave nothing to live on
• those who cannot work at all will be worse off under UC – especially those who are also carers for another disabled person owing to inability to claim as both disabled and a carer [no SDP/EDP in UC]
• ‘natural migration’ rules mean that if the claimant loses money on move to UC they get no transitional protection
• sanctions are severe and cases so far indicate they are not used as a last resort, decisions seem to be a questionable as those on JSA and often lack proper explanations - people have been sanctioned for working rather than going to a meeting at the Jobcentre, or for being minutes late to a meeting
• people in work will be sanctioned
• hardship payments only made if severe and current hardship can be demonstrated, they are discretionary, repayable, and repeat claims each assessment period are needed, the claimant having to prove need all over again
• overpayments of UC are recoverable even if the claimant is blameless and DWP are at fault
• there is no appeal against the above, only a Code of Conduct which does not cover DWP or third party errors
• If an employer fails to give RTI information, the onus falls upon the claimant to advise DWP, but they are very unlikely to know this has happened
• cuts in work allowances have reduced helpfulness of UC
• disabled students excluded from UC unless they have LCW as well as PIP
• DWP now saying that claimants must close legacy benefit claims when transferred to UC – this ‘duty’ has never been mentioned before (???)
• rules for self-employed are complicated and harsh
• MIF affecting some CTR applications as councils adopt it
• UC decisions given through journals lack detail and may be unlawful
• policy on help with school meals and NHS costs is unclear
• UC in comparison to Tax Credits is a less helpful system (capital limit, high taper etc)
• claimants required to attend Jobcentre meetings even when they are working and bosses do not like them taking time off
• zero earnings rule on housing costs will create better-off trap
• may not be better off on UC when CT costs are added in
• child care costs have to be declared monthly and will be lost if not declared on time – some people may not get receipts from the provider in time and will lose money
• change of circumstances rules may act to the claimant’s detriment
• no housing costs for young people – effect on homelessness, and on offers of properties for young people. Exemptions exist but are insufficient and not well understood
• employer pays late/pays early – disruption to UC claim
• Surplus Earnings Regulations from April 2018
• the role of discretion in UC – statutory protections weakened and made discretionary or not taken up at all
• UC is supposed to mimic work but there is no allowance for holidays at all, unlike JSA
• no implicit consent

Andrew Dutton
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Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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The man who invented Universal Credit has added his voice to growing calls for the benefit to be paid quicker.

Stephen Brien, whose report in 2009 became the blueprint for the benefit, told the BBC claimants should receive their first payment after four weeks.

Universal Credit started life in the Centre for Social Justice think tank, under the leadership of Dr Brien.

In 2009, he wrote a 370 page report called Dynamic Benefits, which became the basis for the new benefit. He then went on to work in the Department for Work and Pension between 2011 and 2013, creating the benefit.

“We should be looking at something much closer to a four-week process.

“When we are looking at a group of people who have lost their job, to expect them to take six weeks on their own back without getting any cash is a challenging one.

Universal Credit: Architect of welfare shake-up urges changes

Andrew Dutton
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I saw some of today’s Commons debate - unanimous vote to cut the 6-week wait, but no concessions from the Minister and government benches still full of the stock, scripted praise-words, ‘transformational’, ‘250,000 jobs’,  etc etc, and another claim that UC is an ‘agile’ system which adapts and improves itself - but how can it, when its faults are locked in to its basic system? Depressing.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/nov/16/new-universal-credit-claimants-will-get-no-money-before-christmas

Andrew Dutton
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Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Andrew Dutton
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Andrew Dutton
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Andrew Dutton
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Andrew Dutton
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Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Andrew Dutton
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Sally63
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Can I add another UC absurdity to Andrew’s list?

client was receiving UC but (naturally) had rent arrears—the council was waiting (it understood that they were inevitable)—but now UC was in payment it wanted its money. the problem was that the client did not know how much she owed or how much housing costs she had been paid. The payment history on her personal claim page was wrong, she said. It was not what had happened. The JCP had laughed at her she said.

So I looked at her claim and I looked at the payment history. She had a very straightforward history of standard allowance and housing costs (full) for two months and now an APA direct to the council. Client squirms and looks distressed—but that’s not what happened says client.

so I call the helpline who helpfully explain the payment history to me—ah yes, I say but the client says that’s not what happened. Oh says call centre lady, hold on I’ll have a look.

And lo and behold, the payment history was not “what had happened”. What had happened was a bit of money here, a bit of money there, a small payment, a large payment etc—nothing like the payment history. Ah yes, says the call centre lady, that is what actually happened but then the accounts department tidied it up. If you had looked before her last payment (nov 2nd) so if you had looked on Nov 1st you would have see what actually happened but when they made the next payment, they tidied it up and put what should have happened.

So there you go—the payment history isn’t the payment history—it’s the story of What-should-have Happened not what did. The client smiled—I think she had been feeling that her brain was failing—but no, it was UC driving her mad.

Political possibly in order to answer questions about delays and problems. Making it possible to say “95% of UC claims are paid on time and without problems” or at least they are when the delays and problems are air-brushed away

Andrew Dutton
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Added to list; I can’t think what to say about this. Whitewashing after the fact???

BC Welfare Rights
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Peter Turville
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https://www.theguardian.com/society/benefits

Its good to know we are all mistaken! Such an uplifiting Xmas missive from the SSWP.

I’ll explain this to the client I saw yesterday who had to claim UC in Nov. having been ‘found fit’, accepted an advance and has rent arrears so deductions totalling 40% and so is left with £190.69 a month to live on for the next three months (while we negotiate reduced deducations, ensure a new WCA is arranged under UC, challenge the ESA decision, etc.).

Oh and its taken 3 hrs+ work so far just to sort out whats happend to his housing costs payments and APA as his payment history, journal and actual payments do not tally.

[ Edited: 21 Dec 2017 at 09:40 am by Peter Turville ]
Andrew Dutton
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‘The truth is, she received an advance payment of £688 on the same day the Guardian ran its story, and four days after she had submitted her claim to universal credit. We will then take this off her future payments, thus making her worse off in the long term but at least she didn’t starve eh? We’ll probably get the recovery rate wrong too. That was not as a consequence of publicity surrounding her case, but universal credit working as it should because everything is repayable, not like in the terrible old system where people had rights and silly stuff like that. Delayed payments, high deductions, simple benefit calculations done wrongly, missing UC elements, overpayments that are recoverable even when we are 100% to blame, sanctions,: we give with one hand and take with the other, plus we give out a slap or two while we’re at it.’

There. Fixed it for him.

Andrew Dutton
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Andrew Dutton
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Andrew Dutton
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