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Who should read
All Housing Benefit staff
As benefit practitioners we know change is constant and there is perhaps no such thing as a simple change as you will appreciate from this month’s article on Two-week run-on of legacy benefits when moving to Universal Credit. You’ll see we are also re-launching the Housing Benefit (HB) Award Accuracy Initiative on a voluntary basis until 2021 and provided some clarification on the Shared Accommodation Rate around the Homeless exception.
In last month’s editorial Clare Elliott mentioned how most of the LA Partnership, Engagement and Delivery division had been redeployed to work on Universal Credit (UC) claims. One month later it is all change and we are moving colleagues to deliver another of the Department for Work and Pensions priorities.
This time we are being asked to support the design and delivery of a new scheme called Kickstart which was announced recently by the Chancellor. The scheme will fund the direct creation of high quality jobs for young people at the highest risk of long-term unemployment. It will give young people the chance to build their confidence and skills in the workplace, and to gain experience that will improve their chances of going on to find long-term, sustainable work.
Our colleagues have readily accepted changes to their role and will move to this new work in the coming weeks. This will be a huge challenge getting to grips with new roles, new areas of work and working at pace to deliver high-profile work. To a certain extent it will mean many of them working outside their comfort zone. Working as a team we are, however, very confident they will deliver.
I mention this because since March 2020 we have seen how local authorities have prioritised their work to keep vital public services going during these unprecedented times. Massive, complex, constant change being delivered at pace.
My personal experience over the years working in benefits has taught me one thing whether you are administering Income Support, Pension Credit, UC or Housing Benefit, we all successfully manage change and complexity.
I hope you will be taking time out too to recharge your batteries over the summer and if so I hope you have a super break. Until it is my turn again to be the editor please stay safe.
Head of Performance Development Team
Two-week run-on of legacy benefits when moving to Universal Credit
1. From Wednesday 22 July 2020, if a claimant’s claim to Universal Credit (UC) ends their award of income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support (IS) or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) their legacy award is allowed to continue for up to a further two weeks to help them until they get their first UC payment.
2. The run-on is paid at the same rate the claimant was receiving on income-related ESA, IS or income-based JSA before they claimed UC.
3. Any sanctions or deductions being made from the legacy award will continue to be applied to the run-on, unless they would have ended during the run-on period.
4. However, there may be circumstances where the claimant is not entitled to the two-week run-on:
- if a claimant was previously in receipt of JSA (contribution-based) / ESA (contribution based) as well as income-based JSA / income-related ESA, they will receive up to an additional two-weeks’ run-on of their income-based JSA / income-related ESA. Their contribution-based JSA / ESA will continue to be paid when they move to UC, so no run-on is appropriate
- people who no longer meet the basic conditions of entitlement to income-related ESA, IS or income-based JSA when they make their UC claim will not be entitled to the run-on
Impact on Housing Benefit
5. There will be no impact on Housing Benefit (HB). The local authority (LA) will receive an HB Stop notice when the UC claim is made and will continue to action this as per the guidance.
Re-launch of the HB Award Accuracy Initiative on 5 October 2020
6. We wrote to your Revenues and Benefits managers and Chief Finance Officers on 4 August 2020 about the relaunch of the HB Award Accuracy Initiative on 5 October 2020 and to invite LAs to confirm participation by 18 September 2020.
7. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a priority of the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP’s) LA-PED division is to continue to work with local authorities (LAs) during the remainder of 2020-21 and beyond to improve the accuracy of HB awards. Funding remains in place to support LAs to undertake specific activities to identify unreported claimant changes and make sure the right amount of benefit is paid to the right person at the right time. However, those LAs who choose not to participate will not receive any funding.
HB Award Accuracy activities
8. DWP will provide additional funding to enable LAs to undertake the following activities once participation is confirmed:
- HB Full Case Reviews (FCRs)
- Housing Benefit Matching Service (HBMS) referrals, including:
- Self-Employed Earnings Reviews (SERs)
- the correct recording of case information on LA IT Systems and clerical management information (MI) returns to DWP
High level summary
9. Further details about the HB Award Accuracy Initiative and its relaunch can be found in circular HB A9/2020 (issued directly to LAs and soon to be published on www.gov.uk), however, here is a high level summary:
- from 5 October 2020, and for the remainder of 2020-21, the HB Award Accuracy Initiative will be voluntary until 2021-22
- LAs who choose not to participate will not receive any funding
- each LA must confirm by close 18 September 2020 whether they have decided to participate as from 5 October or one of the two alternative flexible start dates in November 2020
- there will be an ‘all LA conference call’ to support the re-launch of the HB Award Accuracy Initiative on Thursday 13 August 2020
- LAs confirming participation are expected to carry out 100% of all HBMS cases they receive and 100% of their share of the 200,000 of the nationally identified FCRs, over the remaining months of their participation
10. If you have any questions you can email email@example.com
Shared accommodation rate: Clarification of the homeless exemption
11. The Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rules in HB currently restrict the level of help for single people aged under 35 who live on their own to the shared accommodation rate. This reflects the rent levels of properties with sole use of a bedroom and shared use of at least a living room, kitchen or bathroom.
12. The following exemptions apply to the shared accommodation rate:
- those in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium
- those who have an extra bedroom for a non-resident carer providing overnight care
- care leavers up to the age of 22
- those aged 25-34 who have spent at least three months – which do not need to have been continuous – in a homeless hostel/hostels specialising in rehabilitating and resettling within the community (see below for further detail)
- ex-offenders who present a risk of serious harm to the public and are subject to active multi-agency risk management under the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) to be rehabilitated back into the community (those aged 25-34 only in HB and anyone under 35 in UC)
Exemption for former residents of homeless hostel/hostels
13. This exemption is for those who have spent at least three months in a hostel (or hostels) for homeless people, where the main purpose of that hostel is to provide accommodation, care, supervision or support with a view to assisting homeless people to be rehabilitated or resettled in the community. Further, to be eligible for this exemption, during their time in the hostel they would need to have been offered and accepted support services to enable them to be rehabilitated or resettled in the community.
14. Such a hostel must satisfy the definition of a “hostel” in HB regulation 2(1):
“Hostel” means a building
(a) in which there is provided for persons generally or for a class of person domestic accommodation, otherwise than in separate and self-contained premises, and either board or facilities for the preparation of food adequate to the needs of those persons, or both; and
- (b) which is
- (i) managed or owned by a registered housing association: or
- (ii) operated other than on a commercial basis and in respect of which funds are provided wholly or in part by a government department or agency or a local authority; or
- (iii) managed by a voluntary organisation or charity and provides care, support or supervision with a view to assisting those persons to be rehabilitated or resettled within the community; and
- (c) which is not
- (i) a care home;
- (ii) an independent hospital; or
- (iii) an Abbeyfield Home
15. Note that it is not necessary to make your own assessment of whether each individual applicant is homeless and in need of resettling or rehabilitating in the community, but to be satisfied that this is the main purpose of the specialist hostel.
16. It is not necessary for the three months stay to be continuous or to be spent in the same hostel.
17. The exemption is covered in more detail in the circular HB A12/2011 (Changes made to the use of the shared accommodation rate).
Clarification about HB and UC claims for homeless people/rough sleepers accommodated through the ‘Everyone In’ initiative
18. In response to COVID-19, the Government’s recent ‘Everyone In’ initiative and similar provisions in Scotland and Wales aims to accommodate homeless people/rough sleepers, in some cases using hotel accommodation as temporary accommodation where necessary.
19. We have received a number of requests as to whether this accommodation is within the definition of ‘homeless hostel’ for the purposes of an exemption from the shared accommodation rate and finding move on accommodation for those housed under the initiative.
20. In relation to the ‘Everyone In’ campaign, it is our understanding that:
- places in hotels and bed and breakfasts were allocated to people on the basis of homelessness prevention
- clients are receiving equivalent care and support (or more) as they would in a usual hostel setting
- LAs/commissioned providers have taken over the hotels (or sections of them) rather than booking individual rooms, and are responsible for providing the support to the client
- facilities are not self-contained (in other words, there are no kitchens) and clients are provided with meals
- the LA funds the hotel as a block booking, creating a license with the claimant, so there is no commercial relationship between hotel and claimant
- the hotels and provision of care and support to the clients are managed on a day-to-day basis by voluntary/third-sector organisations
21. Therefore, where the circumstances above apply the re-purposed hotels and bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) used for ‘Everyone In’ will satisfy the definition of ‘hostel’. This means that provided the claimant is over 25 and satisfies the other conditions of the exemption they will be entitled to a one-bedroom LHA rate rather than the shared accommodation rate.
22. Local provision may vary and LAs should consider the detail of the services and accommodation provided against the conditions of the exemption when deciding if the emergency accommodation is operated as a hostel.
23. While the ‘Everyone In’ initiative applies in England only, similar provisions were introduced for housing rough sleepers in Scotland and Wales. Provided the homelessness exemption criteria are satisfied and the hotel or B&B accommodation meets the hostel definition, the exemption will also apply to those rough sleepers housed in Scotland and Wales.
Proof of exemption for UC claimants
24. The exemption also applies to claimants of UC, see Paragraph 29 of Schedule 4 to the Universal Credit Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/376).
25. The onus is on the claimant to provide supporting evidence and details. Therefore, where support and accommodation has been arranged through the LA, UC claimants may need to request proof of their period of stay in an appropriate specialist hostel (or hostels) as well as confirmation that they had been offered and accepted support to help them be rehabilitated or resettled in the community.
HB decisions by the Upper Tribunal
26. Decision Making and Appeals (DMA) Leeds is aware of the following HB cases that have been decided by the Upper Tribunal (UT):
CH/744/15, CH/1074/16, CH/3983/14, CH/4081/14: Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy (RSRS). Claimant appeal upheld. RR followed.
CH/4932/14, CH/4935/14, CH/5073/14, CH/52/15, CH/430/14: RSRS. LA appeal dismissed. RR followed.
27. A selection of decisions of the UT are published on their website. Do be aware that there is an undefined time lapse between decisions being issued and their appearance on the website.
28. If you have any queries about cases before the UT Judges or courts, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
29. The following Statutory Instruments (SIs) have been laid:
- 2020 No 681 The Statutory Sick Pay (Coronavirus) (Suspension of Waiting Days and General Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020, came in to force on 6 July 2020
- 2020 No 693 The Pension Protection Fund (Moratorium and Arrangements and Reconstructions for Companies in Financial Difficulty) Regulations 2020, came in to force on 7 July 2020
- 2020 No 783 The Pension Protection Fund (Moratorium and Arrangements and Reconstructions for Companies in Financial Difficulty) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, came in to force 23 July 2020,
- 2020 No 677 The Universal Credit (Northern Ireland Reciprocal Arrangements) Regulations 2020, came in to force 24 July 2020
- 2020 No 826 The UC (Managed Migration and Miscellaneous Amendments) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, came in to force 4 August 2020
- 2020 No 166 The Universal Credit (Exceptions to the Requirement not to be receiving Education) (Amendment)(NI) Regulations 2020, came in to force on 5 August 2020
- 2020 No 827 The Universal Credit (Exceptions to the Requirement not to be receiving Education) (Amendment)(NI) Regulations 2020, came in to force 5 August 2020
- 2020 No 829 The Statutory Sick Pay (Coronavirus Amendment) (No.5) Regulations 2020, came in to force 5 August 2020
30. The following Statutory Rules (SRs) of Northern Ireland have been laid:
- 2020 No 134 The Statutory Sick Pay (Coronavirus) (Suspension of Waiting Days and General Amendment) (No.2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020, came in to force 6 July 2020
- 2020 No 129 The Universal Credit (Great Britain Reciprocal Arrangements) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020, came in to force 24 July 2020
- 2020 No 165 The UC (Managed Migration and Miscellaneous Amendments) (Amendment) Regulations(NI) 2020, came in to 4 August 2020
31. Copies of SIs and SRs can now be downloaded from legislation.gov.uk
What’s new on our HB pages on GOV.UK
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Latest Data sharing and IT issues consultation and engagement forum
Decisions with the Upper Tribunal
What’s new on our HB pages on GOV.UK