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UC & NHS charges exemption - NHS BSA doesn’t understand UC?

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Peter Turville
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shawn - 14 May 2019 02:04 PM

New NAO report: Investigation into penalty charge notices in healthcare ... includes -

NHSBSA accepts that the rules around entitlement are complicated and recognises that genuine mistakes and confusion happen. The entitlements to free prescriptions and dental treatment are set by the Department. Factors which may cause mistakes and confusion include:

• Universal Credit claimants are only eligible for exemptions if their monthly earnings are below a specified level. Additionally, there is no option to indicate receipt of Universal Credit on NHS prescription forms. The Department expects to update the paper version of the prescription form in late 2019.

https://www.nao.org.uk/report/investigation-into-healthcare-penalty-charge-notices/

 

NHS BSA are still refusing to accept UC payment statement as evidence (because they still don’t appear to understand what they mean!). Also not accepting ESA award notices unless it specifically covers the date(s) on which the NHS charge applied - thus requiring client / adviser to get a L from ESA (NHS seem unable to accept an annual uprating notice or the concept of indefinite awards).

Daphne
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In a debate on free prescriptions in the House of Commons yesterday Health and Social Care Minister Seema Kennedy said -

My Department and the DWP are working together to provide further clarity to universal credit, and hopefully we will be adding a universal credit tick box to the prescription form.

To be fair it’s only been a litte over six years since UC first came in and at least they’re hopeful there’ll be a tick box at some point…

Mr Finch
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I eventually got a very late reply to a freedom of information request that confirms that if a customer ticks ib-JSA, then both ib-JSA and UC are checked automatically before issuing a penalty charge. So if this appears not to be happening it might be worth raising it again.

Peter Turville
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Mr Finch - 19 June 2019 01:26 PM

I eventually got a very late reply to a freedom of information request that confirms that if a customer ticks ib-JSA, then both ib-JSA and UC are checked automatically before issuing a penalty charge. So if this appears not to be happening it might be worth raising it again.

If the FOI confirms NHS BSA will / can check exemption due to entitlement to UC with DWP that contradicts previous responses from NHS (see #27 & #31) that there is no arrangement between NHS and DWP by which they can check. Someone is telling fibs / still does not understand the issue.

Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District
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Mr Finch - 19 June 2019 01:26 PM

I eventually got a very late reply to a freedom of information request that confirms that if a customer ticks ib-JSA, then both ib-JSA and UC are checked automatically before issuing a penalty charge. So if this appears not to be happening it might be worth raising it again.

Have you got a copy you could share please Mr Finch?

Andrew Dutton
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Sir Desmond Swayne (New Forest West) (Con)
I have constituents who are furious at repeatedly receiving penalty notices that subsequently have to be quashed. The system is rubbish, isn’t it?

Seema Kennedy
I do not agree with my right hon. Friend that the system is rubbish […..]

Mr Speaker
What is not rubbish is the very pithy line of questioning typically deployed by the right hon. Member for New Forest West (Sir Desmond Swayne)

NB the statement ‘hopefully we will be adding a universal credit tick box to the prescription form.’
‘Hopefully’? HOPEFULLY????
And still no explanation of why you are supposed to tick IBJSA or get a penalty.

Mr Finch
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Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District - 19 June 2019 02:46 PM
Mr Finch - 19 June 2019 01:26 PM

I eventually got a very late reply to a freedom of information request that confirms that if a customer ticks ib-JSA, then both ib-JSA and UC are checked automatically before issuing a penalty charge. So if this appears not to be happening it might be worth raising it again.

Have you got a copy you could share please Mr Finch?

They posted it to their own site instead of What Do They Know, for some reason:-

https://apps.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/FOI/foiRequestDetail.do?bo_id=8361

 

Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District
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Thanks for the above!

Mr Finch
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Here’s the relevant bit of their reply to stop everyone having to hunt for it:

“As part of our checking regime, we verify if any Universal Credit (UC) in payment is within the eligibility threshold to determine whether the patient has entitlement (or not) to free prescriptions. We also verify with DWP if a claimant is in receipt of income based Job Seekers Allowance.”

Peter Turville
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Mr Finch - 21 June 2019 11:53 AM

Here’s the relevant bit of their reply to stop everyone having to hunt for it:

“As part of our checking regime, we verify if any Universal Credit (UC) in payment is within the eligibility threshold to determine whether the patient has entitlement (or not) to free prescriptions. We also verify with DWP if a claimant is in receipt of income based Job Seekers Allowance.”

“To explain further, the DWP do not currently check against the UC database so a patient would need to send evidence to show that they were exempt at the time of their NHS prescription or NHS dental treatment should they receive a PCN. Regrettably the NHSBSA have no control over the checking process with the DWP”

Was the previous response we received.

Either NHS BSA now have an agreement with DWP that DWP can/will check & confirm that a patient in receipt of UC is within the eligibility criteria when the patient ticks the JSA-IB box as currently instructed by the NHS pending the introduction of a UC tick box.

That must imply that when a UC ‘tick box’ is added the DWP will be able to confirm directly to the NHS that the claimant’s UC income is withing the eligibility criteria.

Or they still have no agreement with DWP but mean that in practice they verify by requesting the patient provides evidence that their UC payment is within the threshold and that they initiate this verification process by issuing a penalty notice to the patient and invite them to challenge the penalty charge.

I have therefore made a FOI request https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/exemption_from_charges_for_unive

updated for FOI req.

[ Edited: 21 Jun 2019 at 03:03 pm by Peter Turville ]
Peter Turville
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I have now received a FOI response: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/exemption_from_charges_for_unive

If a system has been in place since Oct 17 why are they still issuing so many penalty notices to UC exempt claimants?