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UC and EU Settled Status - repeat HRTs!

JPCHC
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Cardinal Hume Centre - Welfare Rights

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I am hoping this is a one-off error and it won’t be repeated but my client had her payments suspended as they decided she needed a repeat HRT when her earnings changed despite having ILR under the EU Settled Status scheme and not needing to rely on any R2R under the Imm (EEA) Regs 2016.  She of course passed the HRT but she shouldn’t have had to take a day off to be subjected to one!

Anyone else had this? Complaint going in…

Va1der
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Welfare Support Worker - Community Renewal Edinburgh

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Would be interesting to see what exactly prompted the test. Has she had any other changes, relevant to benefits or otherwise?

If she started getting paid in Euros I could see why DWP might think she wasn’t habitually resident.

Jo_Smith
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I just had a client with settled status who failed HRT. We submitted MR, and MRN overturned the decision on 02.10.19. Took the DWP just over 2 months to issue MRN in this super complex case [drips with sarcasm]

A month later she has been invited for HRT and her UC payment was suspended….

No MPs around to complain :(

alang
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I’ve just had a case for this today. I repped client at appeal 3 weeks ago on failed HRT. Tribunal agreed he had permanent RTR when decision was taken.Whilst waiting for appeal client was granted settled status in mid October. UC seemed to accept tribunal decision and put entry on journal that claim had been backdated. Had another HRT 2 days ago (despite the facts that he had a permanent RTR and now has settled status.

Entry on journal today failed HRT.

I am losing the plot with the incompetence of UC decision makers on RTR issues have had several cases at appeal in the last year, not lost one of them but they seem to keep making the same decisions. I used to get these from time to time with legacy benefits but not to the same frequency as with UC. Cynically, I think they just refuse everybody unless they are working full time and hope that they don’t challenge it.

Meeting client on Wednesday and I am going to have to try very hard not to explode with Case Manager when I phone them!

Martin Williams
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My suspicion on these is that they now have a system which triggers a repeat investigation of R2R when certain circumstances occur.

Under legacy benefits it was not uncommon for someone to be accepted as having a R2R at the point of claim and then for the question never to be revisited for the currency of the award even when circumstances indicated they should look at it.

They started to stop that when they introduced GPOW (checking at 3 month point etc).

However, it seems to me now they may have a system that triggers it more often.

I would bet that whoever designed the IT for that system was not briefed on settled status and so the system still triggers alerts when wages drop etc.

Much of the above could possibly be discovered using targeted FOIs- but if I am right then, as often the case with UC, to fix this then they need to rewrite their code.

Having policy and practice driven by IT and not by law is depressing.

Vonny
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I suspect Martin is right and that really ridiculous changes can trigger it
I had a client a couple of weeks ago where the only change was a new bank account and an appointment needed to verify the new details.  The UC bit the call centre could see said he needed another HRT - he has refugee status, so exempt!

WillH
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Yep - they do. I think this has always been an issue with UC but seems to be getting worse?

http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2019-0980/62._HRT_v8.0.pdf

‘When a claimant reports a change of circumstances, the Service identifies if that
change affects their Right to Reside status and a ‘Review HRT decision’ to-do is
generated. Consideration is given to whether the Right to Reside has changed
and whether the claim should now end.’

As Martin says, however this was programmed (‘the Service’ presumably being the IT?), the person who did it either didn’t know about settled status or it was done before settled status existed & hasn’t been changed…?

Va1der
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I was feeling particularly frustrated the other day, so submitted a FOI: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/hrt_for_uc_process_updates_to_re#describe_state_form_1

Vonny
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WillH - 12 November 2019 04:51 PM

Yep - they do. I think this has always been an issue with UC but seems to be getting worse?

http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2019-0980/62._HRT_v8.0.pdf

‘When a claimant reports a change of circumstances, the Service identifies if that
change affects their Right to Reside status and a ‘Review HRT decision’ to-do is
generated. Consideration is given to whether the Right to Reside has changed
and whether the claim should now end.’

As Martin says, however this was programmed (‘the Service’ presumably being the IT?), the person who did it either didn’t know about settled status or it was done before settled status existed & hasn’t been changed…?

But why would the IT be so badly written that it puts a review HRT decision to-do on a claim when right to reside does not apply?  The person I spoke to was great through and said she would add a note that it was not needed.

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Information and advice resources - Age UK

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WillH - 12 November 2019 04:51 PM

As Martin says, however this was programmed (‘the Service’ presumably being the IT?), the person who did it either didn’t know about settled status or it was done before settled status existed & hasn’t been changed…?

Digital service started roll out in 2014, two years before the referendum on Brexit and five years before the settled status programme was instigated. As has been discussed elsewhere, there is an apparent reluctance on part of DWP to meddle with coding that underpins full digital UC service, even for something as apparently simple as flagging fact that claimant has reached pension age.

JPCHC
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Well this is thoroughly depressing now my client with refugee status has had her payments suspended as they have decided she needs an HRT after leaving her job!

Martin Williams
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JPCHC - 25 November 2019 10:23 AM

Well this is thoroughly depressing now my client with refugee status has had her payments suspended as they have decided she needs an HRT after leaving her job!

This sounds like one the CPAG Judicial Review Project would be happy to help with- https://cpag.org.uk/welfare-rights/judicial-review

A pre-action letter would probably sort it out within a matter of days.

Jess Strode
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Judicial Review Project | Child Poverty Action Group

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Martin Williams - 27 November 2019 11:26 AM
JPCHC - 25 November 2019 10:23 AM

Well this is thoroughly depressing now my client with refugee status has had her payments suspended as they have decided she needs an HRT after leaving her job!

A pre-action letter would probably sort it out within a matter of days.

What’s more there is specifically a template on this issue here: https://cpag.org.uk/welfare-rights/judicial-review/judicial-review-pre-action-letters/refugees-inc-hrt-issues, letter “JR14 Incorrectly required to meet HRT for UC – refugee”.

Let us know how you get on. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Peter Turville
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Have received the following email from a client which speaks for itself!

I am writing you to let you know that following the HRT appointment, UC people decided that I am a resident and therefore I am still entitled to Universal Credit. What a surprise!
According to them, I have been asked to attend the appointment because I have declared 4 more hours of work per week, and for that reason only, I have been asked everything again (and I mean EVERYTHING including my residence history “when did I first come to the UK”, flights, work, education and so on). Since they do have the option for people to upload files on their journal, and since I had to take an unpaid leave from work of 2 hours including commuting, I think is absolutely unjustified that they asked me to attend a residency test as if I was just arrived to the UK (after 8 years) for an insignificant change in my work contract. To make things even funnier, they haven’t even verified that I am working more hours now, they only asked me for my first contract of one year ago!
With the certainty that this will happen again should I declare any other change, I would like to ask for a refund of the unpaid hours of work I had to take for something that I could have done from my laptop, and I would also like (more than the refund itself) to raise the issue to a court so that this does not happen ever again.

Background: client (lone parent) was working and receiving UC. Went abroad for 3 months. Reclaimed on return having re-started work (24 hrs pw). R2R refused. 2nd claim 6 wks late R2R accepted. 1st claim appealed (allowed) on 25/6/19. Clnt has applied for settled status but awaiting HO decision.