Search rightsnet
Search options

Where

Benefit

Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction

From

to

Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Universal credit administration  →  Thread

Benefit cap calculated incorrectly

Charles
forum member

Accountant, Haffner Hoff Ltd, Manchester

Send message

Total Posts: 1029

Joined: 27 February 2019

I have a client whose UC award has been badly miscalculated. They have applied the benefit cap based on his UC ‘maximum amount’ rather than his actual entitlement (which is lower due to being in receipt of SRP). This error has been made by the original DM, by the DM who carried out the MR, and by the appeals officer who has written the appeal response. The appeals officer has managed to come up with some unintelligible reasoning to explain why the reduction in the UC award due to the SRP is ignored for benefit cap purposes. My client was even told that this is a policy issue, and if he doesn’t like it he should raise it with his MP!

I am literally stunned at how such a basic error is being repeatedly made by multiple DMs and appeals officers. I think it is likely that many other claimants are wrongly seeing benefit cap deductions in this way.

So my questions are, firstly, how can I best get this sorted quickly for my client without having to wait for the appeal to be heard? And secondly, how can this issue can be raised more widely with DWP, to ensure DMs and appeals officers receive better training in this area?

Elliot Kent
forum member

Shelter

Send message

Total Posts: 2299

Joined: 14 July 2014

This is the sort of thing which ought to be dealt with automatically by the UC software so I would have thought this could only be the result of manually overriding the calculation or some sort of data entry error.

I would normally suggest that something like this is raised through the case manager/escalation contacts/partnership manager in the first instance as in theory it ought to be fairly easy to resolve. This might still be worth a go, although I would not be too surprised if the fact that it is in the appeals system causes everybody to clam up.

On the broader issue, I would suggest raising it with CPAG Early Warning System
https://cpag.org.uk/policy-campaigns/early-warning-system

Charles
forum member

Accountant, Haffner Hoff Ltd, Manchester

Send message

Total Posts: 1029

Joined: 27 February 2019

Elliot Kent - 02 August 2021 09:50 AM

This is the sort of thing which ought to be dealt with automatically by the UC software so I would have thought this could only be the result of manually overriding the calculation or some sort of data entry error.

I had also thought so, but then I thought this case suggests it is done manually. Perhaps the system just flags up ‘potential’ benefit cap cases, and the actual calculation is carried out manually?

I would normally suggest that something like this is raised through the case manager/escalation contacts/partnership manager in the first instance as in theory it ought to be fairly easy to resolve. This might still be worth a go, although I would not be too surprised if the fact that it is in the appeals system causes everybody to clam up.

On the broader issue, I would suggest raising it with CPAG Early Warning System
https://cpag.org.uk/policy-campaigns/early-warning-system

Thank you.

Ianb
forum member

Macmillan benefits team, Citizens Advice Bristol

Send message

Total Posts: 742

Joined: 24 November 2017

Knowing how thorough you are I’m sure you will have spotted this yourself but DWP’s own examples in ADM make clear how the calculation should be done.
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/933147/adme5.pdf
The second example at E5032 seems to cover it if you substitute the SRP for the earnings referred to in the example.

Daphne
Administrator

rightsnet writer / editor

Send message

Total Posts: 3079

Joined: 14 March 2014

Charles - 02 August 2021 04:08 AM

I have a client whose UC award has been badly miscalculated. They have applied the benefit cap based on his UC ‘maximum amount’ rather than his actual entitlement (which is lower due to being in receipt of SRP). This error has been made by the original DM, by the DM who carried out the MR, and by the appeals officer who has written the appeal response. The appeals officer has managed to come up with some unintelligible reasoning to explain why the reduction in the UC award due to the SRP is ignored for benefit cap purposes. My client was even told that this is a policy issue, and if he doesn’t like it he should raise it with his MP!

I am literally stunned at how such a basic error is being repeatedly made by multiple DMs and appeals officers. I think it is likely that many other claimants are wrongly seeing benefit cap deductions in this way.

So my questions are, firstly, how can I best get this sorted quickly for my client without having to wait for the appeal to be heard? And secondly, how can this issue can be raised more widely with DWP, to ensure DMs and appeals officers receive better training in this area?

Charles - if it doesn’t get resolved using local escalation, then if you DM/email me client details I can raise via stakeholders - hopefully then will get resolved quickly but also raise awareness that it’s a problem.

If you do get it resolved and it is not a manual override and maybe something more systemic then do please let me know so I can raise that too

Mairi
forum member

Welfare rights officer - Dunedin Canmore Housing Association

Send message

Total Posts: 239

Joined: 25 June 2010

I have a case that’s exactly the same.  Fortunately the amount that’s been reduced isn’t massive but this is a case where if it could be dealt with badly it has been…...

Daphne
Administrator

rightsnet writer / editor

Send message

Total Posts: 3079

Joined: 14 March 2014

Mairi - 03 August 2021 11:57 AM

I have a case that’s exactly the same.  Fortunately the amount that’s been reduced isn’t massive but this is a case where if it could be dealt with badly it has been…...

Same to you Mairi - if you’ve tried local escalation and it’s not worked then if you DM/email be details I can raise via stakeholders

Charles
forum member

Accountant, Haffner Hoff Ltd, Manchester

Send message

Total Posts: 1029

Joined: 27 February 2019

Thank you Daphne, I’ll let you know.

tbidmead
forum member

WRAMAS - Bristol City Council

Send message

Total Posts: 360

Joined: 7 January 2013

We’ve also had a recent case where cap was applied to UC but didn’t include Child Benefit in the calculation (which was in payment throughout & once noticed, created an o/p) so certainly appears to be manually applied.

Jo_Smith
forum member

Citizens Advice Hillingdon

Send message

Total Posts: 187

Joined: 3 October 2018

There is sadly a very poor understanding of how benefit cap or benefit cap grace period works amongst DWP staff at frontline or medium rank level.
I have now prepared a template Journal message, a template message regarding grace period start day etc. And if you are at a stage of preparing templates, then you know that there is an ongoing issue.
See attachment to demonstrate- this was in response to client requesting that benefit cap grace period is applied on grounds of her having earnings over the threshold for 12 consecutive months prior to job loss.

But what galls me most is the arrogance….
Not prepared to learn, not prepared to be corrected, not prepared to take consequences of errors, not prepared to enter into discussion.

Image Attachments

UCJ_screenshot.png

Click thumbnail to see full-size image

Ianb
forum member

Macmillan benefits team, Citizens Advice Bristol

Send message

Total Posts: 742

Joined: 24 November 2017

Jo_Smith - 13 August 2021 10:07 AM

Not prepared to learn, not prepared to be corrected, not prepared to take consequences of errors, not prepared to enter into discussion.

Exactly. I understand that mistakes will occur but what I find so frustrating is when we get clients to post detailed messages with reference to regulations and DWP guidance but the response is still ‘can’t do it’ with no reference to what has been said.

Mairi
forum member

Welfare rights officer - Dunedin Canmore Housing Association

Send message

Total Posts: 239

Joined: 25 June 2010

In my case we put a note on the journal requesting a mandatory reconsideration of the decision to apply the benefit cap.  When they replied saying that the decision was correct and they could provide a decision letter we said that we’d like that but would consider the note on the journal as the mandatory reconsideration decision.  (We’ve never received the decision letter.)  Submitted an appeal and (as expected) received a directions notice stating that the DWP said no MR had been completed and they would take the appeal submission as the request for an MR.

I have replied to the directions notice with the details of the above and noting my concern that the DWP weren’t taking the date the MR was requested on the journal as the date of the MR but were instead taking the date a couple of weeks later when the appeal was submitted.  And for good measure sent a copy of the UC journal notes showing the response to the MR request.

Currently waiting for a decision from HMCTS as to whether the appeal can continue.

Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District
forum member

Citizens Advice Bridport & District

Send message

Total Posts: 718

Joined: 9 January 2017

Mairi - 16 August 2021 04:43 PM

In my case we put a note on the journal requesting a mandatory reconsideration of the decision to apply the benefit cap.  When they replied saying that the decision was correct and they could provide a decision letter we said that we’d like that but would consider the note on the journal as the mandatory reconsideration decision.  (We’ve never received the decision letter.)  Submitted an appeal and (as expected) received a directions notice stating that the DWP said no MR had been completed and they would take the appeal submission as the request for an MR.

I have replied to the directions notice with the details of the above and noting my concern that the DWP weren’t taking the date the MR was requested on the journal as the date of the MR but were instead taking the date a couple of weeks later when the appeal was submitted.  And for good measure sent a copy of the UC journal notes showing the response to the MR request.

Currently waiting for a decision from HMCTS as to whether the appeal can continue.

This scenario will be familiar to HMCTS, i.e. bypassing, DWP dates at odds with the chronology on the journal, attaching Journal notes (essential).

Charles
forum member

Accountant, Haffner Hoff Ltd, Manchester

Send message

Total Posts: 1029

Joined: 27 February 2019

Charles - 02 August 2021 10:23 AM
Elliot Kent - 02 August 2021 09:50 AM

This is the sort of thing which ought to be dealt with automatically by the UC software so I would have thought this could only be the result of manually overriding the calculation or some sort of data entry error.

I had also thought so, but then I thought this case suggests it is done manually. Perhaps the system just flags up ‘potential’ benefit cap cases, and the actual calculation is carried out manually?

It turns out it is calculated automatically, but the software has a “fault”. I wonder how many other claimants are being underpaid due to this “fault”?

DWP have revised their decision in my client’s case, and lapsed the appeal. They have written the following (my emphasis):

My revised decision is that following further investigation it has been established that State Retirement pension is not to be treated as a welfare benefit and therefore, has to be deducted from the calculation of total welfare benefits included for the purposes of the benefit cap. This therefore means that no benefit cap should apply for 29/11/2020 to 28/12/2020 and any subsequent assessment periods for this reason. This a known fault with the UC computer system and there are ongoing processes to try to correct this.

Mairi
forum member

Welfare rights officer - Dunedin Canmore Housing Association

Send message

Total Posts: 239

Joined: 25 June 2010

Fingers crossed for my case then.  Our appeal was accepted and we’re awaiting the paperwork from the DWP so hopefully someone will have been tasked to look at it anyway.

Daphne
Administrator

rightsnet writer / editor

Send message

Total Posts: 3079

Joined: 14 March 2014

Charles - 19 September 2021 12:25 AM

My revised decision is that following further investigation it has been established that State Retirement pension is not to be treated as a welfare benefit and therefore, has to be deducted from the calculation of total welfare benefits included for the purposes of the benefit cap. This therefore means that no benefit cap should apply for 29/11/2020 to 28/12/2020 and any subsequent assessment periods for this reason. This a known fault with the UC computer system and there are ongoing processes to try to correct this.

Interesting Charles - I’ve gone back via stakeholders for more information about what they’re doing to repair the fault and also to trawl for any incorrectly paid claimants.

Gareth Morgan
forum member

CEO, Ferret, Cardiff

Send message

Total Posts: 1821

Joined: 16 June 2010

Ask also how long this has been the case.

Mairi
forum member

Welfare rights officer - Dunedin Canmore Housing Association

Send message

Total Posts: 239

Joined: 25 June 2010

So my case proceeded to appeal which was heard yesterday.  Thanks to this thread I was able to advise the judge that yes I was aware of other cases where similar mistakes had been made.  The DWP weren’t represented at the appeal.

Needless to say the decision went in our favour but what a waste of public money and time.