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Someone other than claimant reporting a change to DWP (for UC HCE purposes)

mycatismo
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Does it have to be the claimant who reports a change in their circumstances to DWP?

For instance, if a landlord knows that a tenant has had a change in their circumstances that would mean an increase in their UC award (and their tenant has not reported it, and landlord is unable to contact the tenant) then what should the DWP do if the landlord notify the DWP of this change? Can the DWP just ignore the landlord’s notification?
Any way of getting the DWP to accept it?

Va1der
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What’s the nature of the change?

Regarding information that may have a positive impact on the claim, there are some pieces of information the DWP must act on (earnings notifications from employers for instance), and some they may act on (evidence from a registered HCP that the client has LCW/WRA).

Regarding info that may negatively impact the claim, they’ll (rather infamously) act on everything and anything.

One important factor is that this may prompt the DWP to seek further information/evidence from the claimant, which s/he’ll have a limited time (generally 14 days) to provide. If, like the landlord, the DWP cannot contact the claimant within that time, the claim might be suspended.

mycatismo
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Thanks for replying Va1der-

Decided to make it a general question but the actual issue is where a vulnerable but non-engaging tenant os no longer in specified accommodation (but same landlord) so HB has ended. He’s already on UC but hasn’t declared his housing costs. Apparently the landlord has tried and failed to get the DWP to accept notification of the housing costs saying it must come directly from the claimant, on the journal. Landlord can’t get hold of the claimant or get them to respond. Partnership Manager has been contacted but said nothing they can do….

Va1der
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I’m sure there is someone on this forum more qualified than me to answer your question.

The landlord (or some other interested party) could try to register with DWP as an appointee, see Reg. 57 of UC (Claims and Payments) regs 2013, and DWP: ‘Agents, appointees, attorneys, deputies and third parties: staff guide’ - part 5.

This would allow them to register the CiC, and then use the landlord portal or other means to request MPTL/APA.

This would hinge on the tenants ability to manage his own affairs.
Has DWP already recognised the tenant as vulnerable?

Elliot Kent
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It’s always within the gift of the DWP to make decisions of its own initiative and on the facts as they appear on the balance of probabilities. If the landlord is on the phone saying that the tenant has housing costs but the tenant didn’t report them, then the DWP could revise or supersede their previous decision on the basis that it is more likely than not that the housing costs exist. It is impossible to partially opt out of a benefit - the tenant is either entitled to UC or not, and if they are entitled to it, then they need to be paid all elements which they are actually entitled to.

So its a “won’t” rather than “can’t”.

The problem for the landlord is that they have no right to challenge the decisions on the claimant’s case. They don’t have a right of appeal and wouldn’t have standing on a JR - so all they can do is try to make a fuss on usual channels and hope for the best.

Va1der - 14 January 2020 10:13 AM

The landlord (or some other interested party) could try to register with DWP as an appointee, see Reg. 57 of UC (Claims and Payments) regs 2013, and DWP: ‘Agents, appointees, attorneys, deputies and third parties: staff guide’ - part 5.

I would be rather concerned about the idea of a landlord taking over appointeeship for a claimant as there is clear potential for a conflict of interest (and in any event the landlord probably doesn’t want to accept this responsibility).

 

Va1der
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Elliot Kent - 14 January 2020 10:32 AM
Va1der - 14 January 2020 10:13 AM

The landlord (or some other interested party) could try to register with DWP as an appointee, see Reg. 57 of UC (Claims and Payments) regs 2013, and DWP: ‘Agents, appointees, attorneys, deputies and third parties: staff guide’ - part 5.

I would be rather concerned about the idea of a landlord taking over appointeeship for a claimant as there is clear potential for a conflict of interest (and in any event the landlord probably doesn’t want to accept this responsibility).

I was just in the process of editing my previous post to reflect just that.

I think there would have to be a careful consideration of the status and reputation of a landlord before recommending such action. Given the claimants vulnerable status I would be especially cautious.
There is of course precedent for doing so, for care homes for instance (although there are many examples of that not working in the clients’ favour).
The DWP guidance also recognises a need to confirm if it is in the client’s best interest - requiring contact with the client or medical evidence.

As far as the landlord’s responsibility goes, he could cancel his appointeeship again, although I think there is a 1 month notice period.

Mike Hughes
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I would come at this from a similar angle to Elliot. Do DWP fail to act on alleged fraud because it wasn’t the alleged fraudster who reported it? That would be ludicrous. Grounds for supersession have been established. DWP now need to enquire further. The landlord does have recourse in the sense that there’s nothing to stop the lodging of a complaint and that may well provide sufficient alert. Partnership manager clearly needs to have a rethink. Nothing in law says all changes must be notified only via the journal and in a climate where they’re quietly backtracking and asking people to ring the response from the Partnership Manager is risible.

I wonder what would have happened if the landlord had rung to announce that housing costs had reduced!

Va1der
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There should also be some barrier for how UC accepts information though, otherwise DWP would open itself up to unnecessary paperwork, and potentially more fraud. Conversely, in terms of negative CiCs DWP is forever willing to spend £££ to squeeze pennies out of people, as per government policy.

As far as a complaint goes, DWP could possibly take the stance that landlord is an unrelated entity, and as such has no right to complain.

This landlord obviously has a track record with the client (albeit for HB) and I’m assuming it is a social landlord, potentially registered, so should be easy for DWP to ascertain legitimacy of CiC.

As an alternative route, perhaps the landlord could try to submit a MPTL form via the UC email address, attaching relevant information/evidence (i.e. signed contract etc.)?

[ Edited: 14 Jan 2020 at 11:14 am by Va1der ]
Jon (CHDCA)
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Mike Hughes - 14 January 2020 10:46 AM

I wonder what would have happened if the landlord had rung to announce that housing costs had reduced!

What they might have done is say that until the discrepancy between the rent as reported by the landlord and the rent reported by the claimant is resolved, no housing element will be paid…

I while ago we saw where the claimant had I think either rounded the rent either up or down, and then found they had to correct that to the exact same rent figure as the social landlord had reported to UC, before housing costs were paid.

Mike Hughes
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Jon (CHDCA) - 14 January 2020 11:33 AM
Mike Hughes - 14 January 2020 10:46 AM

I wonder what would have happened if the landlord had rung to announce that housing costs had reduced!

What they might have done is say that until the discrepancy between the rent as reported by the landlord and the rent reported by the claimant is resolved, no housing element will be paid…

I while ago we saw where the claimant had I think either rounded the rent either up or down, and then found they had to correct that to the exact same rent figure as the social landlord had reported to UC, before housing costs were paid.

Yes to both. “A question arising as to entitlement” ought to lead to a suspension. A part suspension is sensible. The key point being that they can therefore act upon information received from a 3rd party.

The second one is very common. Another version of an “untidy” tenancy. Didn’t someone on here report that it occurred on a 1p discrepancy at one point?

Dan Manville
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I wonder whether there are parallels to be drawn with the WCA process…

For a referral for a WCA to be made the claimant must have reported a health condition and supplied a med3. Without those haing been reported on the claimant’s account the referral portal for MSRS is greyed out to the Case Manager, the LCWRAE cannot be issued (unless manually) and one must howl long and loud to force them to utilise their discretion.

If the claimant has not reported the HC, might that prevent staff on the business end from completing tasks necessary to pay the HCE?

mycatismo
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Mike Hughes - 14 January 2020 11:44 AM
Jon (CHDCA) - 14 January 2020 11:33 AM
Mike Hughes - 14 January 2020 10:46 AM

I wonder what would have happened if the landlord had rung to announce that housing costs had reduced!

What they might have done is say that until the discrepancy between the rent as reported by the landlord and the rent reported by the claimant is resolved, no housing element will be paid…

I while ago we saw where the claimant had I think either rounded the rent either up or down, and then found they had to correct that to the exact same rent figure as the social landlord had reported to UC, before housing costs were paid.

Yes to both. “A question arising as to entitlement” ought to lead to a suspension. A part suspension is sensible. The key point being that they can therefore act upon information received from a 3rd party.

The second one is very common. Another version of an “untidy” tenancy. Didn’t someone on here report that it occurred on a 1p discrepancy at one point?

Mike -Can I follow up on the part suspension thought? Do you mean suspend the whole HCE (as opposed to the whole UC award) or do you mean they could suspend part of the HCE? If the former, that would help once (if?) the claimant can be persuaded to engage but arrears will continue to accrue; if the latter - what amount would DWP base it on? Would they not say that using what the landlord states could lead to an overpayment and refuse to do it?? Just trying to work out the best advice to give.

Mike Hughes
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Certainly historically they’ve been able to suspend parts rather than the whole. UC I’m honestly not sure but it strikes me as the area to explore.

mycatismo
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Thanks Mike- and everyone else - for suggestions.
I’ve suggested a combination of strategies and will report back on this forum if they bear fruit