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Touchbase: November Budget Edition
November 9, 2018
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In the Budget on 29th October, the Chancellor announced a package of measures worth £4.5 billion to support the safe and secure roll out of Universal Credit.

Key Budget announcements:

  • The Universal Credit Work Allowance will be increased by £1,000 from April 2019. This means that 2.4m households will keep an extra £630 of income each year.
  • Jobseekers’ Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance and Income Support will roll on for the first fortnight of a Universal Credit claim, where otherwise they would have stopped. This will be effective from July 2020, and benefit around 1.1 million claimants.
  • Government is extending the 12-month grace period (the period before the Minimum Income Floor applies) to support all gainfully self-employed people. This will be introduced from July 2019 and implemented fully from September 2020.
  • Claimants can repay overpayments and debt more slowly from October 2019 (from 40% of the standard allowance to 30%), and from October 2021 people will have longer to repay advances.
  • In addition, the Budget provides funding for the announcements made by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in April and June 2018 to support the roll out of Universal Credit.

The Budget in full

Managed Migration Regulations

Following the changes announced in the Budget above, on 5th November, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions laid the Managed Migration Regulations.The regulations will:

  • Protect 500,000 people’s Severe Disability Premium at the point of migration.
  • Deliver Transitional Protection for those we move, to ensure that at the point of moving, those receiving benefits do not lose a penny.
  • Open up the world of work for those trapped on legacy benefits, and provide targeted support for vulnerable claimants through Universal Credit.

We have also extended the statutory notice period for people moving from their legacy benefits to Universal Credit from 1 month to 3 months, to allow claimants maximum time to prepare and make their claim before their legacy award expires.

The Regulations covering England, Scotland and Wales

The Regulations covering Northern Ireland 

Recent changes to Universal Credit System – which you might not have heard about

DWP is making incremental changes to Universal Credit all the time, to improve the experience for claimants.

In addition to the measures set out above, a few recent changes introduced in the last quarter include:

Supporting vulnerable claimants in verifying their identity

We have introduced improvements to the way we can verify identity.
The vast majority of claimants are verified successfully using the options currently available. However, it is sometimes the case that our most vulnerable claimants have to be verified using third parties. The following improvements are expected to support this group in particular if the claimant is unable to use the core identity verification options.

Gather Information and Confirm

Information can be gathered from the claimant and compared against any information held by DWP in order to confirm the claimants’ identity.

Know and Recognise

If the claimant has not provided at least two pieces of documentary evidence, or has failed ‘Gather Information and Confirm’, identity can now be verified if two or more members of the Jobcentre know the claimant as part of their job role.

New Documentary Evidence

The following documents can now be considered as primary evidence for Universal Credit:

  • Non-EEA Passport
  • Bank Card supported by bank statement showing full account information. This account must be in the claimant’s name and must be the account their Universal Credit is being paid in to
  • Citizen’s Card
  • Young Scot Card with PASS hologram

The following document can now be considered as secondary evidence for Universal Credit:

  • Building Society Passbook

These changes make it easier to confirm identity for some of our most vulnerable claimants and will speed the payment of advances where claimants do not have identity documents available.

Statement Enhancements

We have acted to support people who need to prove that they receive Universal Credit, for example where employers need to confirm receipt of Universal Credit, or as part of ID verification for those attempting to open a bank account.

We have improved the layout and detail on the Universal Credit statement so that it is printable and clearly sets out the name and entitlement of the claimant.

The statement has also been enhanced to ensure that employed earnings, self-employed earnings, earnings surpluses and self-employed losses, and how they have affected the calculation, are explained more clearly. This makes it easier for claimants to understand the calculation and for agents to understand and explain, if asked by the claimant.

Landlord Portal Expansion

We have extended the Landlord Portal. 538 social landlords are now using this tool which streamlines the verification process for claimants and provides more information for landlords.

The Landlord Portal allows social sector landlords to verify their tenants’ housing costs. Landlords are also able to request managed payments of rent for potentially vulnerable claimants.

Fit notes

We have made changes to clarify parts of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) process for claimants. We only need valid medical evidence that covers the duration of the condition(s), up until the WCA decision. The requirement for the medical condition on a Statement of Fitness For Work to match that declared by the claimant has been removed. This means that claimants will no longer be asked to obtain a new fit note where their declared health condition is not identical to the Statement of Fitness For Work.

Advances

It is now possible for claimants to request advances online. The service gathers the amount required and repayment schedule, as agreed with the claimant, to automatically grant the advance. Previously claimants had to call a service centre to claim an advance.

Claimant view of housing

We have made it easier for claimants to report a change in their housing declaration, and to review the information they have declared previously.

Now, when a claimant reports a change in ‘Where you live and what it costs’ their current housing declaration will be displayed along with a ‘change’ button. This means the claimant will be aware of their current housing declaration and will be able to change it if necessary.


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