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Evidence of settled status

Ruth Knox
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RAISE Benefits Advice Team, Liverpool

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Has anyone else come across this problem?  My client has settled status and made a claim for Universal Credit.She went into the Jobcentre Plus for the HRT interview.  She brought her mobile phone with her so that shes could log into her .gov.uk account to provide proof of her settled status. They refused to look at it and referred her HRT decision to a decision maker.When I have queried it, this is the reply I have had from the manager: 

“No we cant, this would still have to be referred and a DM makes the decision, we wouldn’t accept evidence on a phone or tablet for status”

However, as far as I know, the Home Office is insisting on being digital by default, so does not provide any paper evidence of settled status.

This caused real difficulties for my client - claim originally made 11 July, first payment 19 September.  Is this correct advice?  Is it happening nationally? 

Ruth Knox

Va1der
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Welfare Support Worker - Community Renewal Edinburgh

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Fairly typical for JCPs to ask for paper copies of digital documents (welcome to the 21st century), although at least some of them will actually offer the facilities to do so (i.e. a PC+printer).

I don’t know if there is any specific guidance on EUSS, but if there is it would be new, and uptake at JCPs tends to be slow.

More importantly, has your client’s claim been backdated to date of claim?

Daphne
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paragraph 6 of ADM 9/19 states -

The HO has started issuing Settled Status notifications, which claimants can print off from their online HO account. These notifications are not proof of Settled Status or Pre-settled Status on their own, as they do not contain biometric information. These notifications should be accepted from the claimant as supporting evidence, which can
be verified through HO services, using the existing HO Evidence and Enquiry stencil.

Apparently the DWP should do the verification based on the info that the claimant shows them

andyrichards
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OMG!  My office accepts documents photographed and emailed on a smartphone.  Don’t tell anyone!

I cannot see how DWP can say (with a straight face) “digital by default” while simultaneously insisting on people providing paper.

Peter Turville
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Our local Jobcentre’s have accept the HO settled status notification letter along with a print out of the claimants online HO account at R2R interviews and DM has accepted this. Sounds like a local issue to raise with JCP manager / DWP partnership Team & MP (& local media?).

As you say just because UC isn’t really ‘digital by default’ they have to accept that other parts of Govt. are (at least for specific issues)!

Ruth Knox
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RAISE Benefits Advice Team, Liverpool

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Yes, thanks Daphne, I see this answer has been posted today.  The trap clients are caught in is that the Home Office states that anything they can print out can NOT be taken as proof, only as “supporting evidence”.  But our local Jobcentre Plus won’t themselves look at digital information - in their last email to me they said they would pass on the client’s code for their .gov.uk account to the Decision Maker.  This means a longer (and undefined) wait for the claimant as it’s then sent off to an office somewhere else (maybe still Wick for all I know). 

So my next question is where this Decision Maker is located.  Can this stencil be used and the details checked by a Decision Maker then and there in the same way that identity is verified - it is hard to see why not. 

Yes, client did eventually get her backdated money, but in the meantime she has been coping with a split up in a relationship, a threat of eviction,  has three children, one in hospital, and has had to resort to food banks, Citizen Support schemes, etc.for day to day needs.  And I had assured her that, as she had settled status, the claim would be quick and easy!

Jo_Smith
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Citizens Advice Hillingdon

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We are experiencing tremendous problems in our area with local JCPs accepting printed copies of settled status as a supporting evidence. I am sending clients out with the relevant Memo printed out, to no avail. On the other hand, when we get the client to enter a message into their UCJ, that they were granted settled status, including UAN, the response via the Journal advises clients to…..take a printed letter to the JCP.
Madness.

Ruth Knox
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RAISE Benefits Advice Team, Liverpool

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I have had a further email from my local Jobcentre Plus saying that the process is that they take the information with a (code)? (reference number)? and put it on the HRT form, which is then sent to the decision maker at the service centre.  So the advice we would give would probably be for claimants to print out the letter as evidence, give the person who interviews them the details needed to log into their account, and hopefully then they would have a relatively quick decision.  So from a pragmatic viewpoint this is probably the best we can do.

However, I feel this is very unsatisfactory.  Once they have done an online claim, the claimant then has to make one appointment with the local jobcentre to confirm identity, and another appointment to do the HRT interview and then a wait for a decision.

Considering we were assured the “settled status” status makes things straightforward for claimants, this puts them at a big disadvantage compared to UK citizens, whose claim is live the moment their identity is verified.  They have two separate appointments and interviews and then a wait.

The practical effects of this is that my client could not get an advance and, in her case, waited 9 weeks from the claim before any money was in payment.

Surely the two interviews could be done together or alternatively, staff could be trained to confirm the settled status in the Jobcentre Plus itself, as they do now for proof of identity?  Ruth

Va1der
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Wouldn’t go as far as to say there was any assurance it would make it straightforward, only that one avenue for DWP to refuse a claim was closed (Settled = leave to remain). That’s not to say DWP can’t refuse it on any other grounds, make it unnecessarily complicated, or otherwise drag their feet. 

There are many, MANY things DWP could do to simplify the claims process for UC. In many areas it seems deliberately convoluted.
In the meantime I suppose we have to compensate by taking steps to predict potential issues with claims. My de facto guide to new claimants is ‘JCP might forget to ask about ABC, so bring it up yourself, and take relevant documents’, especially in residency cases where JCPs tend to not ask for the appropriate paperwork.
Even with that proviso, I’ve seen, and read on this forum, multiple cases where JCP refuses to copy documents their system hasn’t requested.

The most successful cases I see are still those that pass HRT without needing to rely on EUSS, such as derivative r2r.