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Date of claim for UC

Jane Urwin
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Northumbrian CAB

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Is anything happening with this? The focus of reported problems with UC seems to be on the ‘5 week wait’  with no mention of ‘date of claim’ issues in the media that I can see.
People claiming UC now are called Natural Migrators and as such they have had a change in circumstances which means that they need to claim UC. These changes in circumstances often require the client spend time managing their situation and then they find they don’t understand this new benefit or how to make a claim. This can lead to significant financial losses for many new claimants who have a time without any income while they seek help to submit a claim for UC. This seems to be a particular issue in rural communities, small villages and towns where public transport is limited and the bus fare to the job centre or an advice agency is often £7 plus.

We see a significant number of people needing help to claim UC when CA and IS have stopped, often after the person they were caring for dies or enters residential care. By the time they get help to submit a claim for UC, the legacy benefit has often ended days or even weeks earlier and they don’t meet the very limited criteria for backdating. Similarly, people who have been made redundant often have a delay before they get the help they need to submit a claim for UC.
The lack of ability to backdate a UC claim or to date the start of the claim from first contact/ request for help to claim UC, means that these people loose out on income before they can submit a claim and then they face the 5 week wait for first payment. The amount of money people loose out on can be significant. Where they have entitlement to standard allowance, housing element, child elements etc. each day the UC claim is delayed can mean loss of £50+ that cannot be recovered.

Does anyone know of any plans to address these issues?

 

Martin Williams
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Jane Urwin - 04 February 2020 02:17 PM

The lack of ability to backdate a UC claim or to date the start of the claim from first contact/ request for help to claim UC, means that these people loose out on income before they can submit a claim [....]. The amount of money people loose out on can be significant. Where they have entitlement to standard allowance, housing element, child elements etc. each day the UC claim is delayed can mean loss of £50+ that cannot be recovered.
Does anyone know of any plans to address these issues?

There are two separate issues here:

1. Where a claimant seeks help to claim but does not get that help until some days after seeking it, can it be argued that the date of claim should be the date help sought?

2. What possibility for challenging the limited backdating provisions?

I would say:

1. If you have a client who has sought help to claim and then been provided it some days later (ideally where the help to claim Cit A. adviser is located in jobcentre) but only been awarded UC from when help provided not when sought then there may well be arguments on correct date of claim- feel free to get in touch with CPAG re advice on individual cases at appeal stage.

2. In terms of challenging limited backdating provisions, I doubt overcoming the one month would be possible. Might be possible to run discrimination arguments for groups of clients in analogous categories to those catered for under the regs but for whom no provision has made - one example I can think of is woman unable to claim due to pregnancy- why should she be treated differently to a man unable to claim due to health problems? Again if you have cases we are happy to have a think.

Martin.

Jon (CHDCA)
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Welfare benefits - Craven CAB, North Yorkshire

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Martin Williams - 04 February 2020 03:35 PM

1. If you have a client who has sought help to claim and then been provided it some days later (ideally where the help to claim Cit A. adviser is located in jobcentre) but only been awarded UC from when help provided not when sought then there may well be arguments on correct date of claim- feel free to get in touch with CPAG re advice on individual cases at appeal stage.

I think it’s fair to say that DWP wouldn’t agree with those arguments, so claimant may be facing an MR/appeal process to establish date of claim. Whereas if JCP themselves assisted with the claim, either in their offices or at a home visit, then in our experience date of claim will be fairly routinely protected from when JCP are told in the initial call that their assistance is required. Not that JCP will agree to assist in every case, but ideally advisors will be aware of both local JCP and CitA capacity, and advise on the claiming options accordingly.

We have no info yet on how/if the claim procedure might change in April.

Owen_Stevens
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Martin Williams - 04 February 2020 03:35 PM

1. If you have a client who has sought help to claim and then been provided it some days later (ideally where the help to claim Cit A. adviser is located in jobcentre) but only been awarded UC from when help provided not when sought then there may well be arguments on correct date of claim- feel free to get in touch with CPAG re advice on individual cases at appeal stage.

I’d also be interested in hearing about a claimant who:
- due to their disability was unable to claim UC;
- request help from DWP instead of being assisted by JCP staff at the jobcentre or at a home visit they were directed to the CAB HTC service; and
- their date of claim is later than the date they requested help from DWP

Martin Williams
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Welfare rights advisor - CPAG, London

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Jon (CHDCA) - 04 February 2020 08:49 PM
Martin Williams - 04 February 2020 03:35 PM

1. If you have a client who has sought help to claim and then been provided it some days later (ideally where the help to claim Cit A. adviser is located in jobcentre) but only been awarded UC from when help provided not when sought then there may well be arguments on correct date of claim- feel free to get in touch with CPAG re advice on individual cases at appeal stage.

I think it’s fair to say that DWP wouldn’t agree with those arguments, so claimant may be facing an MR/appeal process to establish date of claim. Whereas if JCP themselves assisted with the claim, either in their offices or at a home visit, then in our experience date of claim will be fairly routinely protected from when JCP are told in the initial call that their assistance is required. Not that JCP will agree to assist in every case, but ideally advisors will be aware of both local JCP and CitA capacity, and advise on the claiming options accordingly.

We have no info yet on how/if the claim procedure might change in April.

Jon - good point. From a practical advice point of view if there is a way of protecting the date of claim that DWP will accept (ie they directly help claimant to claim) then that is better than running an argument the regs mean something they don’t think they mean.

That said, I imagine there must be tens of thousands of claimants at this stage who have suffered loss of a few days of UC because delay in getting assistance via help to claim- have to say I am surprised none of these are showing up as litigants in the appeal tribunal…..

stevejohnsontrainer
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The UC Claims and Payments Regs illustrate the contrast. Reg 11(b) contemplates a more accessible phone call as a PIP claim go date, whereas with UC, Reg 10(a) requires a much harder on-line approach.

We have been left in a bit of wilderness of weasel words confusing the potential of ‘service’ based assistance to support UC claims [10(b)] versus the ‘grant’ based model described by DWP in relation to CA Help to Claim support.  It seems ‘grant’ based models don’t fit 10(b) and this therefore leads to many delayed claims because 10(a) becomes the only show in town.

It is a pity the drawbridge of the ‘grant’ distinction has not been tested to the UT. If you stood on the ‘Help to Claim’ contact offered to CA and then fell from it, you would sprain your ankle. Looks like s service contact to me.

Va1der
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What if claimants are encouraged to try and claim over the phone instead?

Even if that claim is defective the claim date will be that date if they amend the defect within 1 month - although this must still be over the phone, from what I understand from reg 10. Of course, thanks to DWP genius, this claim will then continue as a phone only claim, and would presumably only be allowed if the claimant meets those criteria.

stevejohnsontrainer
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All points noted. You must be referring to the phantom clause 10(c), that allows UC phone claims in the absence of any formal legal permission if that is needed to get the DWP out of impossible limitations and a likely trip down the Strand. I note that you can now cross UC platforms and switch from on-line to phone and vice versa.

Owen_Stevens
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Owen_Stevens - 05 February 2020 10:41 AM
Martin Williams - 04 February 2020 03:35 PM

1. If you have a client who has sought help to claim and then been provided it some days later (ideally where the help to claim Cit A. adviser is located in jobcentre) but only been awarded UC from when help provided not when sought then there may well be arguments on correct date of claim- feel free to get in touch with CPAG re advice on individual cases at appeal stage.

I’d also be interested in hearing about a claimant who:
- due to their disability was unable to claim UC;
- request help from DWP instead of being assisted by JCP staff at the jobcentre or at a home visit they were directed to the CAB HTC service; and
- their date of claim is later than the date they requested help from DWP

To add a third type of case that I’d be interested in hearing about.  A claimant who:
- is in hospital and unable to go home or to visit a jobcentre (possibly - but not necessarily - because they are on a secure ward)
- receives help to claim UC from the DWP Visiting Service while on the hospital ward
- date of claim was the date that they submitted the claim rather than the date they requested asssistance (because the assistance was not provided at home or at an appropriate office)