UC and HB - when is a claimant “on” UC?
A client is currently getting about £55 tax credits, and £50 HB in temporary accommodation. They’d be better off on UC because it would passport them for full HB (£140). But their employer pays four weekly and their earnings vary - so it looks like they will dip in and out of UC. How does this affect HB?
HB Regs (Para 12, Sch 4) says all earnings are disregarded “where a claimant is on universal credit”. Is a person still “on” UC if they get a nil award one month but immediately reclaim within the HB week? Or will all of their earnings be retrospectively counted for HB for the UC AP?
N.B. The wording is the same for the disregard for non-earned income and capital in Schs 5 & 6, but these aren’t relevant for my client.
“(3B) For the purposes of these Regulations, a person (“P”) is on universal credit on any day in respect of which P is entitled to universal credit (whether it is in payment or not).”
I don’t think that would encompass somebody with a nil award of UC because a nil-award is just another way of saying “not entitled”.
Re-reading the question slightly. If someone is dipping in and out of UC, then the disregard would apply during the APs where there is a UC entitlement and not where there isn’t.
e.g. AP 15/05 - 14/06. Two payslips. No UC entitlement so HB assessed on the basis of income.
15/06 - 14/07. One payslip. Some UC entitlement so HB passported.
There could be some amount of retrospective to-ing and fro-ing, because HB probably would assess on actual income between 15/06 and 14/06 and it wouldn’t be until 21/07 that the decision is made that actually there was an entitlement for that period - so then there would need to be a backpayment of HB for the period covered by the AP. And equally, there might be after the fact overpayments when the inverse occurs.
It would be a pretty frustrating situation to be in, particularly as many temp suppliers won’t be happy about this sort of nonsense.[ Edited: 22 May 2020 at 01:35 pm by Elliot Kent ]
I think it’s most likely that this would cause HB overpayments rather than working the other way around. But it is very messy. And would these overpayments be recoverable?
To go back to the meaning of “on” UC - I would like to argue that in plain English a claimant is “on” UC until their award stops. So if I make a claim for UC and it goes into payment I am on UC because I am entitled to it. I would argue that I then remain entitled to it until it is actually stopped, i.e. when the decision is made. So in each benefit week, a decision is made in HB that I am entitled to UC so I get the disregard for that week. At the end of the UC AP a decision is made that I have earned too much, so I am not entitled any more. If I do nothing then the next HB decision will be that I am not entitled to UC in that benefit week so I don’t get the disregard. But if I reclaim during the same HB week, am I on UC again, so do I get the disregards?
I think I’ll see if I can find out how Searchlight presents the end of UC claims - what is the stop date?
But first I think I’ll go home* and enjoy the weekend.
*put my computer away, and then walk around the garden and come back in shouting, “I’m home!”