Welfare Rights Advisors Forum 
13th June 2019 2-4pm, Spitalfieds Housing Association, Valance Rd

Please send suggestions for agenda / training / information items

Free Training Sessions 

Email jo.ellis@island-advice.org.uk to book a place

1. Disabled pensioners will no longer have to go through unnecessary reassessments for disability benefits. Around 270,000 people receiving Personal Independence Payment (PIP) who have reached State Pension age will no longer have their awards regularly reviewed, instead moving to a light touch review every 10 years.

2. REMINDER: Severe Disability Premium  From 16 January 2019, the following people who get the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) will only be required to move to Universal Credit if they are contacted by DWP:

  • people who get the SDP as part of their income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, income-based ESA or Housing Benefit
  • people who have received the SDP in the past month and remain entitled to it

DWP will provide transitional protection to ensure people do not lose out when they move to Universal Credit the will remain on Universal Credit. Once regulations have been approved, a process will be implemented identifying people who are eligible for monthly payments and a lump sum payment covering the period since moving to Universal Credit.

3. Pension Credit

From May, couples where one partner is aged above Pension Credit age and the other is aged under Pension Credit age, will no longer be able to make a new claim for Pension Credit. Instead they will have to claim Universal Credit. Currently, if you are over 65 and live with a partner, you can claim Pension Credit regardless of your partner’s age.  However, from 15th May you will only be able to claim Pension Credit if both you and your partner are over 65.  LBTH is distributing flyers/pubility encouraging residents who are 65 to apply for Pension Credit before the 14th May.  Delaying applications could mean that they miss out on as much as £7,000 per year.  To make an application residents can call 0800 991 234 and this is the fastest way to make an application

4. The Tribunals Service is piloting move PIP and ESA appeals online. A pilot is beginning in the Midlands Tribunals Service aims to cut costs and speed up appeals with its new Continuous Online Resolution (COR) process. The new system will oblige most claimants to go through an online, text box filling procedure. Claimants will have to complete this process before they have any chance of attending an oral hearing, where they can address the tribunal panel and answer questions in person.

5. From April, landlords will be able to submit spreadsheets of bulk rent changes to DWP via the Landlord Portal. This will trigger a note to the claimant via their journal that the landlord has updated their rent. The claimant does not have to do anything, but they can message their work coach if they do not agree with the change. Inside Housing reports that from April, “social landlords will be allowed to download a spreadsheet from the Universal Credit landlord portal and enter the rent change for all their tenants. DWP will then be informed.

Social Policy/Campaign Information

Resident Support Scheme replaced Crisis Support Grants in January – if you have any comments, compliments, complaints, suggestions on how the scheme has been running (especially if you are a partner agency) please email details to me – I am collecting information to send to Ellie Kershaw (Tower Hamlets Tackling Poverty) and Paul Smith (Northgate) –  Currently issues are:  not responding/notifying of claims or appeals, most cash payment requests for emergency money seem to be getting refused – what is the criteria?

Other Information

  • http://thcan.org.uk/factsheets/  Complaints to DWP has been updated again – emails have changed
  • The next Housing Forum meeting will take place on Thursday 2 May at 3pm. It will take place at the Law Centre, email Sadaf Mir s.mir@thlc.co.uk .
  • A good factsheet and complaints letter for GP’s who refuse to provide fit notes because they consider the DWP has told them they are not allowed to provide one https://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/employment-and-support-allowance/esa-appeals
  • PIP MANDATORY RECONSIDERATION STATISTICS - TIMES INCREASE BY 86%, The waiting time for a mandatory reconsideration decision has increased last August the average wait was 32 day but this has now increased to 54 days the success rate for PIP mandatory reconsiderations is 19%, Of those who fail their mandatory reconsideration but go on to appeal, 73% are successful.
  • Healthy Start Vouchers Healthy start is a UK wide government scheme that helps pregnant women, new mums and young children in low income families. It supports them to eat healthy, healthy start voucher can be spent on milk, plain fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables (with no added ingredients) and infant formula milk. What vouchers can families get:  Pregnant women receive one voucher a week (£3.10 voucher) per week, Babies under the age of one get two vouchers (£6, 20), Each child aged over one and under receives one voucher worth (£3.10), Children under one year old can get two £3.10 vouchers (£6.20) per week.  Many businesses who are registered will accept for Healthy Start Vouchers, supermarkets, food co-operatives, market stalls and more. Leaflet attached https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/healthy-start-vouchers/how-to-apply/online-application-form
  • Tower Hamlets debt & money advice forum on Monday 20th May at 2pm. There is not yet an agenda set for this but I would welcome any agenda items people who want to attend Contact;  Sam.Crosby@toynbeehall.org.uk

Specialist Welfare Rights Advisors Referrals for Tower Hamlets Residents

Legal Advice Centre: Only take referrals for appeals when got the appeal bundle, not Mandatory Reconsideration.  Otherwise can be ‘signposted’  (ie send client to drop in advice session) for assistance. Referrals can be emailed to admin@legaladvicecentre.org they will email back to confirm that clients have been booked – full guidance available on www.thcan.org.uk/advice-agencies-information/

Law Centre: Chris Parsons very limited capacity but to email or phone him, has no particular criteria c.parsons@thlc.org.uk

Island Advice: Tower Hamlets clients only, limited casework and usually all appointments are taken up through our drop in advice session clients but email  steph@island-advice.org.uk  or phone direct line 020 7538 0094 (phone number is for advisors only) Clients can ring 0207 987 9379

CAB advisor Eukay email eukandu@eastendcab.org.uk    Also their full drop in services sessions are available on:  www.thcan.org.uk/advice-agencies-information/