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When everyone has a home

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Benefits

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Yesterday’s budget contained a number of measures designed to mitigate some of the most controversial aspects of Universal Credit. Here’s a quick run through of the most relevant housing and welfare announcements.

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Benefits, Welfare Reform

The Universal Credit and Jobseeker’s Allowance (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2018 were laid before Parliament on 5 November 2018. The most significant change brought about by these regulations is the removal of the restrictions on Universal Credit housing costs claims by job-seeking 18 to 21 year olds, a policy that was introduced despite much criticism in 2017.

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Benefits, Legislation, Welfare Reform

The Department for Communities has issued guidance on the effect of a recent upper tribunal decision concerning the meaning of the phrase “A person is responsible for a child or qualifying young person who normally lives with them”, which appears in the Universal Credit legislation.

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Benefits, Practical tips, Case law, Legal
Image of housing benefit application form and electricity meter cards

The UK Upper Tribunal has found that a First Tier Tribunal erred in law by deciding that a person who sold his former home and rented it back could not receive Housing Benefit. In an important decision, the court ruled that the test of whether someone could continue to occupy their home without relinquishing ownership is one of practical compulsion, rather than legal compulsion and does not necessitate that the lender has started legal action to recover possession of the property.

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Benefits, Practical tips, Affordability, Legal

Regulations were issued in August expanding the existing capital disregards relating to benefit arrears. Capital, resulting from a benefit arrear payable as a result of an error or on a point of law can now be disregarded for the lifetime of the benefit award. Previously, such capital could only have been disregarded for a maximum period of 52 weeks.

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Benefits, Legislation, Welfare Reform

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has recently launched guidance for Departmental staff on what changes of circumstance trigger natural migration to Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is being rolled out at present and replaces the following benefits:

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Benefits, Welfare Reform

Community Housing Cymru, a body representing housing associations and housing mutuals in Wales, has reported that Universal Credit is increasingly leading to social housing tenants falling into arrears. 

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Benefits, Welfare Reform

The Scottish Government's 2018 Annual Report on Welfare Reform has estimated that UK Government welfare cuts mean that £3.7 billion less is going to be on social security in Scotland by 2020/21. Additionally, the report find that reduced benefit spending is a key driver of increased poverty rates for lone parent families and families with three or more children. 

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Benefits, Outside NI, Welfare Reform

Research conducted by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has found that Universal Credit claimants set to lose hundreds of pounds a year, simply as a result of when their paydays and assessment dates fall.

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Benefits, Regulation, Welfare Reform

A recent ruling in England could assist those that had been in receipt of receipt of disability premiums with legacy benefits and who have since migrated to Universal Credit.

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Benefits, Outside NI, Policy

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