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.

DWP to pay compensation to wrongly advised claimants?

Amber Rudd and Neil Couling have told the Work and Pensions Committee that the DWP will pay compensation to claimants who have been misadvised, by the DWP, to claim universal credit and have lost out as a result.

Giving evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee, Amber Rudd and Neil Couling were questioned about the evidence that Jobcentres were misadvising claimants to move on to universal credit. This was as a direct result of evidence provided by NAWRA in our written response and in our oral evidence.

You can watch the evidence being put to Ms Rudd and Mr Couling, and their responses, here.

Letter to Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

In early February, we wrote to the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd.  As we have not received a reply, we have written to her again.

Our original letter welcomed her to the post, summarised our main concerns about Universal Credit and made an offer to meet with her for further discussion.

UC waiting days

Back in October 2014, the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) ran a consultation on the government’s proposal that Universal Credit claimants must wait seven days before they are entitled to benefit. NAWRA surveyed its members and 183 organisations from across the country provided evidence. Daphne Hall (Lasa) collated all of our evidence and submitted a response to SSAC. In our our submission we stressed in the strongest possible terms our complete opposition to this proposal. What came over time and time again in the survey responses was the spiral of debt and destitution that would occur due to the cumulative effects of this policy.

SSAC published its report today.  It makes use NAWRA’s evidence a number of times. SSAC’s recommendation is that the proposal should not proceed but the government has not accepted this and plans to go ahead anyway.

Thanks to everyone who contributed, and to Daphne for drafting the submission. It made a difference even if we didn’t get the result.

Universal Credit – past earning consultation

NAWRA has submitted a response to the Social Security Advisory Committee consultation concerning the government’s intention that ‘surplus earnings’ from the previous six months should be taken into account when a person reclaims universal credit (UC).

The proposal suggests that any ‘surplus earnings’ – defined as earnings more than just £100 (less than £25 per week) over the ‘nil UC threshold’ – will be used to reduce future UC payments if the claimant returns to UC within six months. NAWRA does not believe that these earnings can be considered in any way ‘surplus’. They represent essential additional income to enable households to try and lift themselves out of the cycle of poverty.

We have reasserted the points made previously about the difficulties any delay in benefit payment causes, including the risk of claimants losing their housing, being forced into the hands of payday lenders and the risk of destitution. Additionally we believe that this change will act as a disincentive to work.

The DWP state that the policy is designed to prevent claimants and employers from ‘manipulating’ the system but we ask what evidence there is to support this assertion?

NAWRA does not believe that this policy could ever operate effectively. We assert that the proposal can only bring further poverty and hardship to those that already in desperate need.

Read our response.