Our Universal Credit (UC) project, funded by the Trust for London, aims to improve policies and practices in relation to UC to improve people’s lives.
Working alongside existing services such as ‘Help to Claim’ and Advisor services and our local statutory partners and voluntary organisations in Sutton this project has:
- identified key issues experienced by clients or client groups in respect of claiming UC
- raised awareness of key UC issues with local stakeholders and partners
- contributed to the London evidence base for UC, National Citizens Advice Research and Campaigns and respond to national DWP and Social Security inquires.
During 2020/21 we campaigned on the following issues:
- June 2020 - Universal Credit Deductions and Impact on Claimant’s Income – highlighting the impact of claimants losing 30% of their income to repay overpayments, arrears or court fines
- July 2020 - Domestic Abuse Support Gap for EEA Citizens – highlighting lack of access to UC for vulnerable EU citizens fleeing domestic abuse
- October 2020 - Loss of Working Tax Credit on UC Application – raising the impact of the termination of legacy benefits when claimants apply for UC and then find themselves ineligible to claim
- October 2020 - Extending UC – Mortgage Support – raising the issue of lack of temporary support to enable house owners to retain their homes
- December 2020 - Retaining and Extending COVID-19 Support – advocating for the £20 lifeline to reduce the impact of poverty
Our current UC focus is on the following:
UC LCW Transitional Support - We have had several cases where clients have lost their appeals for LCWRA and have been awarded LCW by the Tribunal. As they were claiming LCW/LCWRA prior to 3 April 2017 or were claiming ESA they are entitled to LCW. Although they have begun to receive LCW payment, claimants have not had their award backdated to the original decision despite being able to benefit from transitional protection.
Working Carers & UC - We are undertaking some initial work into an apparent disparity under UC between carers and other claimants (those who are responsible for a child and those with limited capability for work as well) as well as carers who are not claimants. This work is still in its infancy and we are interested in researching this further to see how significant this issue is as it feels that carers may have been forgotten under this part of the regulations. However regardless of the number of claimants affected, it does appear to be unfair.
Impact of UC Surplus Earnings Rules – The de minimis level currently set at £2,500, due to reduce to £300 from April 22, will result in many more UC claimants being affected. The surplus earnings rules are most likely to apply where someone has an increase in earned income in an assessment period perhaps from a bonus, arrears of pay or overtime that reduces their UC award to nil and so terminates their claim. This surplus is then taken into account when assessing an entitlement to a new award, until it is exhausted within a six-month period. We will be assessing the impact of this change.
If you are experiencing difficulties in respect of claiming and managing on Universal Credit our specialist staff and volunteers can help you. See Get Advice (link)