Black Lives Matter

In light of recent events in the United States, and the worldwide response led by the Black Lives Matter movement, NAWRA wishes to affirm our hatred of racism and our commitment to ensuring that NAWRA is a fully inclusive organisation.

As a membership-led body, we are strongly committed to ensuring we represent all of our members.  We strongly value the diversity of our membership and we make a commitment not to tolerate any form of harassment or discrimination.

However, we recognise that we cannot be complacent about racism within our own organisation and the wider inequalities within society.  The NAWRA committee is looking at ways that we can improve.  We are committed to ensuring that NAWRA is an inclusive organisation where members are free from discrimination, but we know we can do more.

We know that learning more about the inequalities faced by the Black community and reflecting on them, is crucial. We welcome all our members’ thoughts and ideas for where we can take positive action that helps us make a stand against racism more broadly and to challenge structural and institutional racism that perpetuates these injustices.

Facebooktwittermail

State Pension Age and Universal Credit

The government has conceded to an Early Day Motion, tabled by Mark Tami MP and signed by 73 others, calling for Universal Credit to be payable up to the day before State Pension is paid.

In response to the news, NAWRA released the following statement:

This is a great achievement by Mark Tami and will make a huge difference to all the pensioners who are currently being left with a big gap in income.

 

NAWRA is delighted to see the government conceding on one of the many design flaws within universal credit and we hope that this indicates a willingness to continue listening to those with knowledge and experience of the hardships being faced by many universal credit claimants.

Read the government statement.

Facebooktwittermail

Fraudulent universal credit claims being made to obtain advance payments

NAWRA members have reported via the rightsnet discussion forum that clients have been
contacted by a loan company offering a ‘government grant’.

The loan company then takes information sufficient to verify ID and submit a universal credit claim without the client’s knowledge, arranges an advance and then keeps a substantial amount of it for themselves. The first the client knows is their legacy benefits have stopped, and they find they are now a universal credit claimant with a large advance to repay that they did not receive.

NAWRA has written to Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd with our recommendations to prevent this fraudulent activity.

Read our letter and the reply.

Facebooktwittermail

Injustice and the need for advice

Excellent article in ‘The Guardian’ on 2nd January 2018, highlighting injustice in the social security system, delays and obstructions in the appeals system and the impact on individuals.

As welfare rights advisers, these are all issues we are all too familiar with and the article will hopefully highlight these to a wider audience.  NAWRA also gets a mention, in the context of ‘advice deserts’ and the need for comprehensive welfare rights advice for communities.

You can read the article online.

 

Facebooktwittermail

IB and ESA conversion – letter to Damian Green, MP

We have written to Damian Green MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to raise concerns about what we see as the DWPs failure to follow correct legal procedures on conversion of incapacity benefit claimants to employment and support allowance.  The full text of our letter is reproduced below.

Our members have identified many former Incapacity Benefit/Severe Disablement Allowance claimants who have been migrated to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), and only been awarded contributory ESA as the Department for Work and Pensions have failed to apply the regulations and their own guidance and undertake a financial assessment to check entitlement to any top up of Income Related ESA.

The DWP guidance states:

Obtaining Information:

45413:  The claimant’s duty to disclose information relevant to their existing award of benefit is modified to enable the Secretary of State to require from the claimant information or evidence for the purposes of determining whether that award should be converted to ESA 1.  [1 ESA (TP, HB, CTB) (EA) (No2) Regs, Sch 1, para 13 (a); SS (C&P) Regs, reg 32 (1)]

 45414:  Enables the Secretary of State to establish whether a claimant whose existing award is IB or SDA and who is not entitled to IS, might be entitled to ESA (IR) as well as ESA(Cont) on conversion.

The legal requirement for conversion decisions from incapacity benefit to ESA to consider entitlement to income-related ESA is confirmed in [2015]UKUT 342 (AAC)

The migration process started in March 2011 and we are calling on the Department for Work and Pensions to revisit all claimants nationally where they failed to adhere to the legal requirement and their own guidance and assess them any entitlement to an income related top up.

Many of our members have taken up cases in respect of individual claimants and found that they have been underpaid by thousands of pounds (see rightsnet discussion thread for more details). This is only the claimants that have been in a position to obtain advice. There are likely thousands more who have had their benefit incorrectly calculated due to DWP failing to follow the law. NAWRA believes that the DWP is obliged to correct those cases and seeks to ensure that the DWP trawl all cases to pick up any outstanding errors of law.

NAWRA strive to challenge, influence and improve welfare rights policy and legislation, as well as identifying and sharing good practice amongst our members.  It is in this vane that we request this piece of work is undertaken to ensure that all claimants receive the correct amount of benefit that is due to them.

We look forward to hearing your response, and the action you will be taking to ensure that any cases where the legislation has not been applied correctly will be picked up and arrears paid.”

We will update members when we receive a response.

 

Facebooktwittermail