Update 23 Nov 2022
We have re-sent our letter to Guy Opperman, the newly appointed Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions.
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28 Sep 2022
As highlighted in previous conferences, NAWRA has been working with the Strategic Public Law Centre and others to try and resolve the problem of the DWP’s failure to reliably initiate the WCA and issue the UC50, resulting in disabled claimants missing out on the LCWRA element – worth more than £350/month – for months or even years.
We met with officials towards the end of last year and put forward a simple proposal – to put an automated message into the claimant’s journal when they first submit a fitnote to advise them of WCA process and, if they don’t receive a UC50 within 4 weeks, to raise it with their work coach.
However, DWP decided not to implement this and instead said they would ‘explore what might be added to published information’.
NAWRA has now written, with Disability Benefits Consortium and Disability Rights UK, to the new DWP Minister of State Victoria Prentis calling on her to put the solution in place as a matter of urgency.
We have also asked for a meeting with officials.
Read our letter to the minister
NAWRA has received a letter from David Rutley, Minister for Welfare Delivery responding to our concerns about the Help to Claim service – in particular, the lack of face-to-face support in the service and the general lack of support for people needing advice given the ramping up of ‘Voluntary move to UC’.
The Minister says –
‘I thought it may be helpful to make clear Help to Claim is designed to be accessed after someone has decided to apply for Universal Credit (UC). It is not intended to help someone decide whether UC is right for them.’
He also reiterates the DWP’s assertion that jobcentre/DWP staff do not advise people to claim UC – apparently ‘independent welfare advice is available’ but the Minister has not responded to the point that funding is needed for this.
NAWRA has responded asking –
- Does the government plan to provide funding to increase advice provision, particularly face to face?
- What safeguards does the DWP have in place, or will be putting in place, to ensure that no person is directed to claim universal credit without having an opportunity to receive a full benefit check and be advised of their options and the implications of those options?
- Can you please clarify what the Department is doing to achieve its objective ‘to ensure the right information is available to claimants in order to support them in making an informed decision about whether a voluntary move to universal credit is right for them’?
Read our letter in full
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.
NAWRA has written to Neil Couling, Director General of UC, to express concern about his assertion that the SDP payments made under the Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 ensure that claimants do not see a cash loss – NAWRA does not believe this is correct.
NAWRA calls on the government to ensure that claimants who migrated to universal credit prior to 16 January 2019 receive the same level of protection as those who will be managed migrated.
Read the letter and the reply from Neil Couling.
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.