© Crown copyright 2019
This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3 or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where we have identified any third party copyright information you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holders concerned.
This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/la-welfare-direct-bulletins-2019/la-welfare-direct-bulletin-42019
If you have queries about the:
- technical content of this bulletin then contact details are given at the end of each article
- general content and distribution of this bulletin, contact
Who should read
All Housing Benefit staff
Happy New Financial Year. Hopefully by now you have issued your Council Tax bills and reassessed Housing Benefit (HB) entitlement and you are starting to get back into your normal work routines after your year-end processes. I’m sure the new financial year will present many challenges both for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and local authorities (LAs) and it’s important that we continue to work together to overcome these through our consultation forums and direct work with LAs.
We can no longer say that we work with 380 LA revenue and benefit teams. We have worked collaboratively with LAs and undertaken a significant amount of work to update our subsidy and new burden payment profiles and data matching files to impact a number of LA mergers and new unitary authorities which has reduced the number of LAs delivering HB to 371.
The work undertaken to submit final audited HB subsidy claims for 2018 to 2019 will be delivered in accordance with the new HB subsidy assurance framework. Regular articles have appeared in LA Welfare Direct bulletins keeping LAs informed of progress. Although these arrangements apply to English LAs we have worked closely with Audit Scotland and the Welsh Audit Office who use the same products and follow similar principals. We have received excellent feedback from the regional subsidy workshops we have delivered. The good practice shared at these workshops is probably the main reason why the value of subsidy recovered from LAs has fallen from £18 million (2014 to 2015) to £2million (2017 to 2018).
One of the ongoing challenges LAs face is the growing number of HB claimants on irregular earnings. DWP issued additional guidance directly to Revenues and Benefits managers 10 October 2018 on the treatment of fluctuating earnings in the assessment of HB. LAs should take the necessary steps to ensure staff HB guidance instructions to reflect this latest update.
DWP is currently working with a number of LAs to estimate the cost of delivering HB. This is an important piece of work which is used to help us understand the proportion of funding provided by DWP and the impact on LA costs relating to specific pieces or work. We have tried to simplify the process this year to make it less onerous on LAs and brought the work forward so that it does not clash with the peak leave period. We are also holding a number of workshops with the participating LAs to provide them with the opportunity to ask questions and provide the information in a consistent way.
The ongoing delivery of HB is as important now as it always has been, 3.9 million households and 8.4 million people receive support for their rent through HB. HB continues to be the second largest benefit in terms of spend (approximately) £19billion; the highest being State Pension at £94 billion.
Wishing everyone a productive and successful 2019 to 2020.
Head of Business Management and Subsidy
Pension Credit Child Addition
1. Since 1 February 2019 Pension Age claimants with responsibility for a child or qualifying young person can receive an additional amount for children as part of the Guarantee Credit element of their Pension Credit. This support was previously provided by HM Revenue & Customs through Tax Credits.
2. The change to the Pension Credit rules to include a Child Addition component was legislated for in The State Pension Credit (Additional Amount for Child or Qualifying Young Person) Regulations 2018. This ensured that once Tax Credits closed there was continuity of support for those who would have otherwise made a new claim for Child Tax Credit.
3. Pension Credit Child Addition is for low income pensioners who do not have an on-going Tax Credit award and who are responsible for a child (aged under 16) or qualifying young person (aged 16 to 19 and in full time non-advanced education or other approved training) who is normally living with them.
4. The additional amount cannot be paid to anyone who has an on-going award of Tax Credits, or who is being paid provisional payments of Tax Credit in their renewal period (6 April to 31 July). Anyone with an existing Tax Credit award (both Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit) who wants to access support for children must continue this support through Tax Credits.
5. The Child Addition pays a basic amount for each child, with a slightly higher rate paid for the first child born before April 2017, and extra amounts available for disabled and severely disabled children. The amount is payable in respect of every child that the claimant is responsible for and is not subject to a restriction to the number of children supported as with Tax Credits and Housing Benefit (HB).
6. LAs will be notified of any new claim including dependent children via the existing LACI (Local Authority Claim Information) process and notified of any changes of circumstances relating to dependent children via the clerical ‘NHB’ notification process.
7. If you have any queries about the content of this article you can email email@example.com
Reminder: Sign-posting claimants back to Universal Credit when not eligible for HB
8. It has been brought to DWP’s attention that some Universal Credit (UC) claimants, who we direct to claim HB because they believe they live in specified accommodation, are not being signposted back to UC to claim support with housing costs if the LA subsequently decides that the accommodation does not meet the specified accommodation criteria to award HB.
9. UC are not aware of these LA decisions, therefore, in these circumstances all such claimants must be advised by the LA that they need to re-declare housing costs as part of their UC claim as follows:
The accommodation you live in does not meet the criteria for supported accommodation so you are not eligible to claim Housing Benefit. To claim support with housing costs you must declare a change in circumstances to Universal Credit and declare either ‘I rent from a council or housing association’ or ‘I rent from a private landlord’. You must not declare ‘I’m in supported or sheltered accommodation’.
10. This advice should be provided either as part of the HB decision notice, by a separate notification or through a separate conversation with the UC claimant as part of a sign-posting conversation.
11. If you have any queries regarding the content of this article you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
DCI1 process – Change to contact details
12. The DCI1 process was originally published in G9/2017. You should note that all regions are now dealt with by Glasgow National Insurance Number Centre.
13. The address and telephone details for the Glasgow National Insurance Number Centre have changed. Their updated details are shown in the revised completion notes for DCI1 referrals – see Annex 1.
14. If you have any queries, please contact email@example.com
Discretionary Housing Payments end of year monitoring return 2018 to 2019
15. Thank you for providing your mid-year 2018 to 2019 Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) monitoring returns. The information was published in ‘Use of Discretionary Housing Payments: April to September 2018’.
16. The monitoring returns are important in helping DWP understand how DHPs are being used to support people affected by welfare reforms.
17. You are now asked to provide end of year returns in relation to the period 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019. We are again, only seeking details of DHPs paid during this period. Do not include any DHP spend, which is committed, but is due to be paid after 31 March 2019. We are also asking you to provide the total number of DHP applicants and awards. Further details can be found in Appendix B of the DHP Guidance Manual and the ‘Guide to completion’ tab of the DHP monitoring form.
18. In line with the approach taken on previous occasions, the monitoring form asks for the value of DHPs paid, broken down into welfare reform impacts and the purpose of the award, for example, an award made as a result of the implementation of the lower benefit cap with the intention of helping the claimant secure and move into alternative accommodation. If information relating to the purpose of the award is not available, LAs are asked just to record the total DHP paid in respect of the welfare reform listed.
19. We would also like to confirm that the DHP monitoring returns should include payments made to both HB and UC (Housing cost) claimants.
20. You should complete and return the Appendix A spreadsheet monitoring form by Friday 17 May 2019 to firstname.lastname@example.org
Review of HB self-employed cases
21. With £1.48 billion of fraud and error overpayments in 2017 to 2018, HB remains the biggest source of fraud and error in the benefits system and earnings and employment is the biggest cause.
22. Analysis suggested that significant savings could be made if all LAs were to regularly review their HB self-employed caseload – the earnings caseload accounts for approximately 15% of the total HB caseload for LAs.
23. In spring 2018, 3 LAs volunteered to take part in a short pilot to review a small number of self-employed cases who provided the following feedback:
By phoning our customers they were more receptive to our questions which made the whole process significantly quicker and easier … In terms of results, of the 20 cases we reviewed we found 6 cases that needed changing with overpayments totalling £8K.
Cambridge city council
The opportunity to do a small pilot was attractive to us … The exercise has demonstrated that we need to be more proactive in contacting these customers more in the future.
South Oxfordshire district council
Overall this pilot helped Hertsmere identify (that) … a high proportion of these claims were being overpaid and have now been corrected … the review triggered customers to tell us about other income and household changes.
Hertsmere borough council
24. As a result, and as part of an on-going drive to reduce HB fraud and error, in late 2018 DWP paid participating LAs additional funding to support the costs of reviewing their non-passported self-employed cases where an HB claimant’s and/or partner’s declared earnings have remained unchanged for over 12 months.
25. The vast majority of LAs agreed to take part and from September 2018 through to February 2019, we provided LAs with details of more than 75,000 cases to review. LAs then asked those claimants affected to provide up-to-date accounts. This resulted in a range of outcomes, some claimants:
- did not respond
- reported earnings and other changes of circumstances
- reported no changes to their circumstances
26. This exercise has now concluded and final analysis will follow. However, early findings are extremely encouraging given the level of savings identified compared to the level of invested resources/funding. DWP would like to thank all participating LAs and will provide a full evaluation report as soon as possible (but likely to be Summer 2019).
27. If you have any queries about the content of this article you can email email@example.com
Verify Earnings and Pensions Alerts service funding for 2019 to 2020
28. During the course of 2018 to 2019 the landscape for dealing with income related fraud and error in HB changed significantly for LAs with the delivery of the Verify Earnings and Pensions (VEP) Alerts service to 378 LAs between June 2018 and September 2018.
29. DWP provided total funding of £25 million to LAs for 2018 to 2019. This was split into 2 instalments: 80% in May 2018 and 20% in March 2019. It was paid on the basis that LAs used the funding to secure resources and administer as many VEP alerts and/or Real Time Information (RTI) referrals as possible.
30. Following a review of VEP processes and through consultation with the Practitioners’ Operational Group, DWP has decided to adjust the funding model for 2019 to 2020 and all participating LAs will be funded with a single total up-front payment for the purpose of administering VEP Alerts only (as RTI referrals have ceased from February 2019). Payment of this funding in its totality at the beginning of the financial year should enable LAs to plan, recruit and retain resources for the duration of 2019 to 2020. LAs should expect a letter in the near future detailing their individual funding.
31. As the VEP Alert service continues, management information about LA performance will increase and improve. Using this information, DWP will work with LAs to develop our understanding and enable us to better support LAs in ensuring that the correct level of HB is paid in relation to income earned.
32. If you have any queries regarding the content of this article you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
Reminder: Help to Claim service
33. As announced on 1 October 2018, from 1 April 2019 Citizens Advice (England and Wales) and Citizens Advice Scotland are delivering extra GB-wide ‘Help to Claim’ support to claimants making a new UC claim or moving from a legacy benefit to UC because of a change of circumstance.
34. The Citizens Advice Help to Claim service offers tailored, practical support to help people make a UC claim up to receiving their first full correct payment on time.
35. It will be available online, through web-chat, through a Freephone number and face to face through local Citizens Advice services. Access to the Help to Claim service via self-service can be found on GOV.UK.
36. Partner organisations such as LAs may signpost UC claimants to the Help to Claim service.
37. If your LA has any questions or issues about the Help to Claim service, they should firstly raise these with the local Citizens Advice Chief Officer. If you think that issues are unresolved or that the service will not meet your local needs you can escalate by emailing:
Update: Windrush Compensation Scheme for HB
38. The Home Office Windrush Compensation Scheme was launched on 3 April 2019, with applications being made direct to them. Only those claimants who have established their legal status to remain in the United Kingdom will be eligible to claim compensation.
39. DWP are still working with the Home Office to finalise processes to support information gather to enable compensation payment awards to be considered and paid.
40. DWP will look to centralise this approach where we can, with LAs contacted by DWP, by exception, to enable further information gather and/or consider the processing of HB claims/arrears, where they have not already been made, in line with current legislation.
41. We are not expecting the Home Office to make compensation payments over the next few weeks. In the meantime, DWP is actively seeking legal cover to allow compensation payments to be disregarded for HB administration purposes. Once received, we will publish a further communication on the matter.
42. In the interim, further information regarding the Home Office compensation scheme can be found at www.gov.uk/windrush-compensation
43. If an LA receives any direct contact from the Home Office with regard to information gather in respect of a claimant making a claim to the compensation scheme for HB, please redirect them to:
Karen Macaulay (Housing Delivery Division)
44. Claimants wishing to make a claim for compensation can download a claim form at www.gov.uk/windrush-compensation. For help completing the form claimants should call:
0800 678 1925
Opening times: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm
45. Claimants can also email the Home Office at WindrushCompensationScheme@homeoffice.gov.uk
46. If you have any general queries in relation to HB and the handling of Windrush cases then please contact:
Karen Macaulay (Housing Delivery Division)
HB decisions by the Upper Tribunal
47. Decision Making and Appeals (DMA) Leeds is aware of the following HB cases that have been decided by the Upper Tribunal (UT):
- CH/1503/18: Lump sum payment for lifetime occupancy of claimant’s property was payment of capital
- CH/2937/18 and CH/258/18: Remitted – overpayment – inadequate findings of fact relevant to the liability of regulation 100
- CH/2085/18: Remitted decision concerning a self-employed person, whose HB was stopped as a result of a failure by the First-tier Tribunal (and the Decision Maker) in applying the Minimum Earnings Threshold correctly
- CH/1380/18: Deprivation of capital. UT made sufficient findings of fact
48. Decisions of the UT are published on their website.
49. If you have any queries about cases before the UT judges or courts, please contact us:
- email: email@example.com
- fax: 0113 232 4841
50. The following Statutory Instruments (SIs) have been laid:
- 2019 No. 480 The Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order 2019, made on 11 March 2019
- 2019 No. 552 The Social Security Benefits Up-rating Regulations 2019, coming into force on 8 April 2019
- 2019 No. 622 The Social Security (Ireland) Order 2019, made on 13 March 2019
- 2019 No. 720 The Chemicals (Health and Safety) and Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, made on 27 March 2019
- 2019 No. 723 The Social Security Coordination (Regulation (EC) No 987/2009) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 has been published to legislation.gov.uk, made on 27 March 2019
- 2019 No. 721 The Social Security Coordination (Council Regulation (EEC) No 574/72) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, made on 27 March 2019
- 2019 No. 726 The Social Security Coordination (Council Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 and Council Regulation (EC) No 859/2003) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, made on 27 March 2019
- 2019 No.722 The Social Security Coordination (Regulation (EC) No 883/2004, EEA Agreement and Swiss Agreement) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, made on 27 March 2019
51. Copies of SIs can now be downloaded from legislation.gov.uk
What’s new on our HB pages on www.gov.uk
52. The following items can be found on the website link shown.
Publication of Housing Benefit Assurance
Process Module 2: Uprating checklist 2018 to 2019
Housing Benefit Matching Service: New Scottish prison rule HBSP001
Mixed Age Couples: Letters issued
New DWP courier service supplier Child Benefit award information
Identifying limited capability for work claimants
Severe Disability Premium: Frequently asked questions
Correction to Jobseeker’s Allowance address for form LA17
Update: Joint Working initiative between DWP and LAs
Bye bye GSI
Removal of GCXS from LA email addresses
Update: UC LA Support Pack
UC Live Service closure
Update: POG and LA Welfare Steering Group minutes published
HB cases with the Upper Tribunal
What’s new on our HB pages on GOV.UK
HBMS new rule HBSP001
Severe Disability Premium frequently asked questions
Sample of UC claimant statement
|LAWD 3/2019 Lite||Update: Customer Information System Interest Automation Searchlight
Transfer Your File update and actions for LAs
Stop Notices/MPG1: Email address action for LAs
|HB U1/2019||Urgent reminder about data security relating to the Housing Benefit Debt Service|
|HB S3/2019||Rent Rebate Subsidy Limitation information 2019 to 2020|
|HB S4/2019||Second payment for the Verify Earnings and Pension Alerts service 2018 to 2019|
|HB S5/2019(Revised)||New burdens funding to meet the costs of implementing mixed age couples changes in 2018 to 2019|
|HB S6/2019 (Revised)||New burdens funding to meet the costs of implementing Severe Disability Premium and Pension Credit child addition changes in 2018 to 2019|
|HB S7/2019 (Revised)||New burdens funding to meet the costs of implementing Carers Allowance Supplement and Best Start Grant in 2018 to 2019|
|HB S8/2019||Payment of new burdens relating to the administration of Housing Benefit fraud referrals for 2019 to 2020|
|HB S9/2019||Additional new burdens funding to meet the costs of implementing welfare reform changes in 2019 to 2020|
|HB A4/2019||Disguised remuneration schemes|
|HB A5/2019||Sheltered and extra care supported accommodation – New LA IT functionality requirement|
Completion notes for DCI1 referral
Completion of form DCI1
1. The originating office must complete the top section of the form in full. This includes the following entries:
- contact name and full telephone number including the dialling code and extension number if appropriate
- the local authority (LA) full office postal address (including the postcode) in all cases
- the benefit the claimant has applied for
National Insurance number (NINo) applicant details
2. The DCI1 form is designed for requesting a NINo for a single customer. A separate form must be used for each customer requiring a NINo.
3. Complete all the light grey areas, providing the customer’s:
- other names
- date of birth
- address to include post code
- contact number of the applicant (obtain mobile number if possible)
- whether male or female
- entitled to benefit box ticked (this must be completed in all cases)
- partner of a benefit claimant box ticked (this must be completed in all cases)
4. Additional relevant information box should be used where:
- home visit required (with details of reason for visit)
- interpreter required
- disabled access required
- NINo upgrade required (with details of NINo to be upgraded)
- previous names used (in other words, maiden name)
- appointee details if applicable
- a note to indicate who the main benefit claimant is and what other benefits the customer may have applied for, etc.
5. Complete the signature box and print name.
Partners in benefit claims
6. Where a benefit application is received from a couple, and following all appropriate checks, the partner requires either:
- an upgrade to an existing NINo
- a new NINo
A DCI1 form must always be completed and the partner’s details entered in the NINo customer details section:
- in partner cases, the benefit claimant’s name, date of birth and NINo (if they have one) must be entered in the ‘Additional relevant Information’
- ‘Yes’ box alongside ‘Partner in a claim to benefit’ box ticked and forwarded to the appropriate NINo Centre as outlined below
7. In addition the tick boxes for male/female, whether the benefit customer has a partner and most importantly entitled to benefit must be completed before the form is sent to the NINo Centre.
Sending the DCI1 form to the NINo Centre
8. Once completed the form should be printed and despatched to Glasgow NINo Centre as outlined below. A review date must be set, suggested 20 working days, for a reply from Glasgow NINo Centre.
All regions are now dealt with by Glasgow National Insurance Number Centre.
Glasgow NINo Centre
1 Atlantic Quay
45 Robertson Street
Telephone: 0141 314 5642