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Advance Claims Care Leavers

NeverSayNo
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Am I barking up the wrong tree?

We support the social workers supporting care leavers who when they turn 18 need to make benefit claims in their own right. Now that is UC.

The regs state that a claim to UC can only be made in advance if the DWP decision-maker is satisfied that the claimant’s circumstances are not going to change and that the person fits a particular group (such as care leavers).

I have a case where the young person is 18 in less than 2 weeks time and an advance claim to UC was made last week. By claim I mean all details entered online and the “submit” button pressed, which led to her having to arrange an identity interview.

Her local job centre is refusing to honour this because their guidance is only about “advance claim preparation” and say she should not have pressed the submit button. They are stating they will be closing her case and she has to reapply, this time not pressing submit until she turns 18. Meaning in some case the social worker will need to go out again to make sure it is pressed on time.

We have thrown the regs left, right and centre at our partnership manager previously to no avail, and I feel a complaint coming on if the job centre do close her claim (under what authority?)

Our point is that it takes resources for a social worker to go out and support a young person to make a claim and its not always possible to do this on exactly their 18th birthday. The law seems to allow for this with an advance claim.

But the DWP I think are making this unfeasible by getting all of the claim done, apart from submitting it.

Am I missing something? Does anyone else have experience of this?

Thanks, Paul

tony pickering
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I used to be more involved with care leavers but changing funding arrangements mean I am not so involved now.  However, I noticed that the government’s ‘Care Leaver Covenant’ was recently published with:

‘Demonstrating our commitment

We DWP will demonstrate our commitment to the care leaver covenant through the following actions:

- Enabling care leavers to make an advanced claim for Universal Credit up to 28 days before their 18th birthday, by making a pre-claim appointment with the Jobcentre.  This will help to ensure care leavers have the required documents to make their claim and that all relevant support is in place.  Care leavers can take their Personal Adviser with them to their Jobcentre appointments.

- Appointing a care leaver single point of contact in every Jobcentre who can provide support to care leavers and colleagues if required. They will also act as a point of contact for the Local Authority Leaving Care Team.’


You might want to ask the contact person in the Jobcentre what the problem is.

Tony

Elliot Kent
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I’m not too involved in this area either but at the risk of stating the obvious, provisions to deal with an advance claim do not mean “you can fill out the claim form then not submit it” because that isn’t a claim at all. Your client can fill out a form for their State Retirement Pension for submission in 50+ years time if they like - but it’s not an “advance claim” to do so.

NeverSayNo
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Thanks both - at least for confirming that I am barking up the right tree. Stating the obvious is fine by me Elliott - sometimes its only way I learn!

I have asked the local job centre, and the partnership manager what the problem is and I get some vague response of its all to do with the date of the claim (being the pressing of the submit claim button) or today that they would be making an “illegal” claim.

Its quite infuriating that the job centre is pushing this guidance to the support workers and are simply refusing to consider the law at all.

Elliot Kent
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NeverSayNo - 03 December 2018 04:42 PM

I have asked the local job centre, and the partnership manager what the problem is and I get some vague response of its all to do with the date of the claim (being the pressing of the submit claim button) or today that they would be making an “illegal” claim.

i.e. “Computer says No”

tony pickering
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As you say Paul the regs clearly allow for advance claims and to ‘award universal credit accordingly’, so this obviously envisages the process being completed.

I don’t know enough about the mechanics of UC claims but, as Elliott says, it looks like computer not being able to deliver.

Might be one to take up through MP if possible.

Tony

Jon (CHDCA)
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Show them the relevant ADM? https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/602462/adma2.pdf

ADM 2048 is pretty clear, that advance claims should go to a decision-maker, in order that a decision can be made in advance. ADM 2049 notes that these decisions are conditional on the claimant still satisfying the conditions of entitlement when the assessment period begins.

tony pickering
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I have checked locally with Barnardo’s (who have the care leavers contract here) and it seems that similar is happening here in Derbyshire.  We are going to discuss more and I will post if anything helpful (or most probably not!) comes out of it.

Tony

NeverSayNo
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Follow up to this issue.

Since we turned FSUC in Nov and Dec we have run in to problems getting the DWP to accept advance claims for care leavers (which is allowed by law).

In practice the DWP insist that a care leaver can begin a claim before they turn 18, but cannot press submit to make the claim until their 18th birthday. For our social workers supporting such people this would mean one visit to do claim preparation, then another to make sure the young person presses submit on their 18th birthday. Without this support it is likely the young person will not claim on time and lose out on benefit.

I am stuck at the moment as the local partnership manager simply passes things to some policy department, whose line appears to be that unless enough people complain they are not going to do anything about it.

Options:
I am looking to find a suitable case from our care leavers turning 18 to try to challenge when the DWP inveitably shut down the claim when “submit” is pressed in advance.
I am trying to use the official complaints route with each care leaver who turns 18

Any one else have any experience of this?

Also, I wonder if Daphne could raise this issue at the UC Stakeholder’s meeting? I can provide the form of words I am using in the complaint if that helps?

Many thanks

Daphne
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Happy to raise it - and yes do send me what you’ve written for complaint so I get it right - either here or DM me

NeverSayNo
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Thanks for that Daphne - I will DM you a version of what I have sent in the complaint.

Cheers, Paul

Andrew Dutton
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NeverSayNo - 20 February 2019 01:10 PM

Thanks for that Daphne - I will DM you a version of what I have sent in the complaint.

Cheers, Paul

Would you be willing to share the wording of the complaint generally?

We are heading up for some discussions about this problem and any and all information will be of help.

NeverSayNo
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Andrew Dutton - 20 February 2019 01:18 PM
NeverSayNo - 20 February 2019 01:10 PM

Thanks for that Daphne - I will DM you a version of what I have sent in the complaint.

Cheers, Paul

Would you be willing to share the wording of the complaint generally?

We are heading up for some discussions about this problem and any and all information will be of help.

Aye, it goes like this:

The Issue
The DWP are only allowing “advanced preparation” of claims and in our opinion are not following what the law allows. I can find no legal basis for the term “advanced preparation”.

The Law
Advanced claims for care leavers are covered in regulation 32 of the Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support (Claims and Payments) Regulations 2013:

“Advance Claim for and award of universal credit

32.-  (1) This regulation applies where-
  (a) although a person does not satisfy the conditions of entitlement to universal credit on the date on which a claim is made, the Secretary of State is of the opinion that unless there is a change of circumstances that person will satisfy those conditions for a period beginning on a day not more than one month after the date on which the claim is made; and
  (b) the case falls within a class for which the Secretary of State accepts advance claims or is a case where the Secretary of State is otherwise willing to do so.
      (2) The Secretary of State is to treat the claim as if made on the first day of that period.
      (3) The Secretary of State may award universal credit accordingly, subject to the requirement that the person satisfies the conditions for entitlement on the first day of that period.”

Care leavers are a class for which advance claims can be made.

Current DWP practice
In each of the 3 cases brought to my attention so far we have advised that the care leaver actually makes a claim before turning 18 by pressing “submit” in the online claim and in each case the local job centre has reported problems in processing the claim because of this action.

The DWP approach seems to be that only “advanced preparation of a claim” can be done and in each of the 3 cases the DWP has initiated closing the UC claim. In cases one and three this meant that the claim had to be restarted on the care leavers’ 18th birthday. In case two the local job centre manager (to her credit) allowed a UC start date of the care leaver’s 18th birthday even though this was done retrospectively. This in effect made the UC claim backdated, although the law does not allow for this either.

I have previously asked for the DWP to provide a legislative, rather than guidance-based, justification for their “advanced preparation of claim” approach. I am yet to be shown how this approach by the DWP is allowed for in law.

Basis for complaint
Other than the fact that it would appear that the DWP are operating without regard for regulation 32, there is a significant impact of the DWP’s approach on both the care leaver and the council’s social workers who are trying to support this vulnerable group of people:

  -care leavers are considered a vulnerable group. This can show itself in a difficulty in engaging with authorities or a lack of awareness of the importance of doing so. In practice this will often mean a care leaver will not be ready to claim UC exactly on their 18th birthday, nor will they see the significance of each day missed in making such a claim after they turn 18. Many will need substantial support to make sure they press “submit” on their 18th birthday if the DWP’s current approach is not changed;

  -the council’s social workers are a dedicated team who know that to engage successfully with care leavers may take time and repeated visits. If the DWP’s current approach is not changed, this will often mean that to ensure a UC claim is made from the day of turning 18 a social worker will need to visit the claimant once to do claim preparation and then again on the 18th birthday to make sure the claim is made.

Any lack of engagement by the care leaver, or resource issue to the social worker(time, other priority cases, sickness, absence), could potentially mean that the care leaver’s claim is not “submitted” exactly on their 18th birthday. Each day “submit” is not pressed would lead to £18.00pd of missed UC because the law does not allow backdating of a claim. (£18pd is based on single person’s allowance plus housing element)

Where we can we will be looking to challenge DWP decisions to close a UC claim before the care leaver turns 18 but this is proving difficult when the claim is closed.

Andrew Dutton
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Many thanks!

,

Daphne
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I’ve sent it in to stakeholder contacts too… will update when I hear anything…

Jess Strode
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We have been forwarded a response from the DWP response to the CPAG pre-action protocol template on this issue, which was used by an adviser. We have updated our PAP template accordingly.

In their response DWP state their system will not allow advance claims to be made, but ‘advance claim preparation’ is available and in any case, Reg 32 provides a power to accept advance claims, not an obligation to do so (but in that case, paid UC for the days between the claimant leaving care and the date of the UC claim).

Our PAP argues that failure to provide a system able to “accept advance claims” in any case prevents that power being exercised at all, and necessarily fetters their discretion.

http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/judicial-review-pre-action-letters
Refusal to accept a UC claim in advance - care leaver - updated June 2019 in light of DWP response received

Please use the template and let us know how DWP respond: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Charles
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The ADM para A2048 here states that advance claims by care leavers IS a class of case for which advance claims are accepted.

Jess Strode
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Charles - 12 June 2019 05:43 PM

The ADM para A2048 here states that advance claims by care leavers IS a class of case for which advance claims are accepted.

Indeed it does! And we have quoted the above in the pre-action template here: http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/judicial-review-pre-action-letters#claims

Please use it and let us know how you get on.  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

 

NeverSayNo
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Charles - 12 June 2019 05:43 PM

The ADM para A2048 here states that advance claims by care leavers IS a class of case for which advance claims are accepted.

The DWP in their response to us on this point simply indicated that they thought ADM para A2048 was wrong. The implication is that they were looking to change that ADM.

Their approach is more: the computer system as designed cannot implement the law, but we are not going to do anything useful about this.