HQN Rent Income Excellence Network News


Each week, Tony Newman and Sue Beasor, associates for The Rent Income Excellence Network (RIEN), go over the biggest and most relevant news stories, reports and publications for members, while providing their own analysis and comment.

For more expert analysis, briefings and best practice for those involved with income collection, tenant arrears, benefits, Universal Credit and customer support, be sure to join RIEN. You can find out more here.

Members of RIEN can download the full weekly updates from Tony and Sue here.

News update 16 August 2019 – by Tony Newman

How a big French bank helped London tenants get back to work

L&Q social housing association secured loan by BNP Paribas under condition it helped its unemployed residents find jobs.

France’s biggest bank loaned L&Q £100m at a discount rate on the condition that the housing association helped at least 600 of its residents into work.

BNP Paribas and L&Q were unable to state how big the discount is, but Matthew Corbett, Director of the L&Q Foundation said it was significant and would free up more money for the housing association to invest in its foundation.

Read more…

Reliable data is the key to automation

The latest report from Dunn and Bradstreet, in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Credit Management, looks at automation in the credit finance industry.

Although the report is targeted at finance and credit, there is much to provoke thought and ideas for housing providers, particularly in terms of rent collection and arrears management.

“The Automation Transformation: The Imperative to Drive Operational Efficiency in Finance and Credit” is available here.

Study offers insight into effects of housing eviction on people’s lives

This US study, a National Bureau of Economics Research working paper by Yale economist John Eric Humphries and coauthors Nicholas Mader, Daniel Tannenbaum, and Winnie van Dijk, provides the first in-depth economic analysis of the effects of eviction on people’s financial status.

Read more…

Calls for investigation as quarter of a million people have been sanctioned under universal credit

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has called for an urgent investigation into the sanctions system as new figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) today reveal a quarter of a million people across the UK have been sanctioned under universal credit.

Read more…

News update 9 August 2019 – by Tony Newman

Social landlords face huge admin burden over Universal Credit issue

Major housing associations have said that they could incur extra costs and see resources diverted from mitigating the impacts of universal credit, unless the government makes swift changes to the way rent changes are recorded, and allows them to update information in bulk. Currently, the DWP requires individual claimants to declare in their universal credit online journals when their rent and service charges change, with benefit entitlements calculated accordingly.

Read more… (registration required)

Surge in EU citizens unfairly refused access to universal credit

EU citizens are being made homeless and destitute after being refused universal credit despite having the legal right to reside in the UK, in what critics are calling the benefit system’s very own ‘hostile environment’. Ministers are being urged to review ‘unfair practices’ after law centres and welfare advisers reported a surge in cases in which EU nationals without UK citizenship have ended up in debt or sleeping rough because of incorrect decisions to refuse their application for universal credit that cut off their benefits overnight.

Read more…

Why has the Scottish Child Payment been brought forward a year for under-sixes?

Following a recent announcement on the Scottish Child Payment, this Joseph Rowntree Foundation article explores the rationale for the decision to bring the payment in for the under-sixes a year earlier than for all children.

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‘Innocent people caught up’ in UK welfare state surveillance system

The UN’s investigator into global poverty has said innocent people are being caught up in the mass surveillance system used by the UK’s welfare state to combat benefit fraud. His warning comes as disabled rights activists in the north-west claim that demonstrators with disabilities protesting against austerity cuts are having their personal information passed by police to the DWP.

Read more…

Carers ‘bullied’ by government as ministers try to ‘claw back’ losses, MPs warn

Carers are being bullied by the government as ministers try to ‘claw back’ losses caused by their own administrative errors or by claimants’ honest mistakes, MPs on the Work and Pensions Committee have warned. One woman who was caring for both her mother and her son was charged with fraud and given community service of 180 hours. She said that her son went into care because she could not cope and that she has had to give up work to care for her mother.

Read more…

News update 2 August 2019 – by Tony Newman

DWP ‘carefully considering’ latest legal reverse

Responding to a written Parliamentary question, DWP minister Justin Tomlinson told the SNP’s Marion Fellows the Department was “carefully considering” the landmark Supreme Court ruling last Thursday (18 July) that cleared thousands suffering mental health conditions as eligible for disability benefits – and not at the whim of draconian assessments.

Read more…

More than 4m in UK are trapped in deep poverty, study finds

The latest report from the Social Metrics Commission concludes that austerity measures have undermined two decades of anti-poverty policy, with more than 4m Britons trapped in deep poverty.

Read more…

Child poverty cash handed back to Europe unspent

More than £3.5m intended to alleviate child poverty and homelessness is at risk of being wasted because the government has failed to spend it, says a House of Lords committee.

Peers have written to the Home Office saying it is “extraordinary” that the EU funding has not been used.

Read more…

Government urged to scrap ‘nasty’ two-child limit on benefits

Figures show nearly 600,000 children are adversely affected by policy.

Read more…

UK: Penniless father of three commits suicide while waiting for welfare payment

Phillip Herron, a single parent from Durham, England, is another victim of the UK’s punitive benefits system and the decades-long onslaught against the working class.

Read more…

News update 26 July 2019 – by Sue Beasor

Universal credit managed migration pilot

The regulations needed to begin the Universal Credit pilot in Harrogate have now been laid. Amber Rudd said that the pilot will be for no more than 10,000 claimants and that the DWP will be able to learn from putting processes into practice and to adapt their approach accordingly.

Read more…

And the relevant regulations are here.

Migration to Universal Credit – compensation for former severe disability premium recipients

More than 13,000 disabled people are to receive backdated benefit payments after the government accepted a court ruling over universal credit. These are being paid to people who moved to universal credit through natural migration and whose legacy benefit included severe disability premium. The DWP agreed to the backdate payments after a High Court ruling found that two disabled men had been discriminated against.

Read more…

Poor Universal Credit advice costs claimants thousands, MPs say

Benefit claimants are being left thousands of pounds a year out of pocket because jobcentre staff are failing to inform them that they will be worse off if they move prematurely to Universal Credit, MPs on the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee have said. They have accused the DWP of failing to inform, protect or compensate claimants who could lose up to £400 a month after voluntarily and unnecessarily signing up to Universal Credit.

Read more…

Jobcentre support for people experiencing homelessness

Dedicated training on homelessness is being delivered to hundreds of jobcentre managers to improve support for vulnerable benefit claimants.

Read more…

Fraud and error – tax credits

HMRC missed its target for reducing fraud and error in personal tax credit overpayments last year, according to a report by the National Audit Office. Erroneous and fraudulent overpayments increased to 5.7% of tax credits spending (£1.46bn) which exceeded the department’s target of 5% in 2017-18.

Read more…

Two million workers could become eligible for statutory sick pay

The government has launched a consultation on proposed changes which would allow two million low-paid workers to receive statutory sick pay. Currently, employees must earn at least the equivalent of 14 hours on the minimum wage to qualify. But the government is looking at whether to extend eligibility to those earning below this threshold.

Read more…

News update 19 July 2019 – by Tony Newman

Council tenants on universal credit 16 times more likely to abandon tenancies

Council tenants on universal credit (UC) are 16 times more likely to abandon their tenancies and three times more likely to be evicted than those receiving housing benefit, a new report has indicated.

Read more…

Councils struggle to sustain cash draining universal credit ‘subsidies’

UC is now draining cash and resources from cash-strapped councils and their not-for-profit housing companies to an extent that “just isn’t sustainable”, a new report reveals.

The fourth annual UC survey from the National Federation of ALMOs and the Association of Retained Council Housing warns that the figures could be even worse.

Read more…

The report is available here.

Discretionary Housing Payments are not a long-term solution to the housing crisis

The current welfare system relies on the use of Discretionary Housing Payments. The next prime minister must deliver a more sustainable solution, writes Imogen Farhan for Inside Housing.

Read more…

Increased jobcentre support for women experiencing domestic abuse

Every jobcentre in the UK will have a trained domestic abuse point of contact by the end of summer.

Read more…

Social media used by fraudsters to advertise benefit scam

Fraudsters are using social media to promote a scam exploiting loopholes in the welfare benefit UC.

BBC News has found Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat pages plugging the scam, which can leave victims owing hundreds.

Read more…

News update 12 July 2019 – by Sue Beasor

Universal Credit fraud

Tens of millions of pounds of public money is believed to have been stolen, with claimants left owing hundreds, after fraudsters targeted Britain’s main welfare benefit, universal credit. Claims include one from ‘a 19-year-old with six blind children’ and another saying ‘Harry Kane’ was their landlord. The criminals exploit a loophole in the online system to fraudulently apply for universal credit and claim advance loans on behalf of people who often have no idea they are being signed up for the benefit.

Read more…

Victims of the scam may still have to repay money fraudulently claimed on their behalf, the government has insisted. Work and Pensions minister, Justin Tomlinson, had told MPs his team would ‘protect vulnerable people’ who would not be expected to pay back the cash. But later his department said its position had not changed and claimants would need to repay some of the money.

Read more…

Making Universal Credit work better

Jenny Luckett, the public affairs adviser for the Riverside Group, has suggested three steps for making universal credit work better:

  • Increase data sharing between housing associations, local authorities and the DWP
  • Extend universal support funding to those social housing landlords who provide welfare advice and support services. Housing associations know their residents well and are often best placed to support them
  • Listen to the growing list of organisations putting their name to the #5WeeksTooLong campaign and end the five-week wait immediately.

Read more…

DWP staff cut by 21% since Universal Credit rollout began, figures show

Ministers have been accused of making ‘reckless’ staffing cuts after it emerged that the DWP has lost 21% of its workforce since universal credit was introduced. Campaigners have warned that staff in the DWP were under ‘intense pressure’ to deal with growing workloads after government accounts data revealed the workforce had been reduced by 19,189 since 2013, amounting to a loss of one in five employees. Universal Credit claimants meanwhile said they had been left struggling to put food on the table after being denied the financial support for which they were eligible or ordered to pay back large sums of money due to overpayments made as a result of errors by caseworkers.

Read more…

DWP Universal Credit newspaper advertisement

The DWP faces sanction with its heavily criticised ‘propaganda’ promoting universal credit now under investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Both the DWP and Associated Newspapers have had formal confirmation from the ASA that the investigation into the campaign, with its cost estimated at around £200,000, is underway. Each is invited to respond to a complaint about the advertisements made by anti-poverty charity Z2K.

Read more…

Top ten tips for Universal Credit

RIEN Lead Associate Tony Newman has produced the below video outlining the top ten tips organisations should bear in mind regarding the roll out of Universal Credit

RIEN members can also download their copy of the presentation slides here (membership login required)