Government open to ‘data share’ between housing associations and DWP

Response to Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) report on Universal Credit commits to “further discussions” on data sharing to help manage claimant migration.

Government has indicated a willingness for “further discussions” on data sharing between the DWP and housing associations to support tenants migrating to Universal Credit (UC).

Confirmation comes in the government’s response a report of the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC), following its scrutiny of the UC-managed migration regulations.

As part of this scrutiny of the regulations, SSAC undertook a consultation, with recommendations on how Government should undertake managed migration.

Riverside, YMCA, St Mungo’s and The Salvation Army – responsible for more than a quarter of supported housing for people in the UK – have already reached out to the DWP on releasing research revealing the extent of difficulties supported housing residents alone experience in claiming UC.

Setting out recommendations to government to help improve the experience of vulnerable claimants, the resulting report suggested current barriers could be largely overcome if the DWP was willing to see supported housing providers as partners in helping with claim management.

In exchange, with much better communication channels, providers would be able to remove some of the administrative burdens currently faced by the DWP – actively supporting residents to adapt to UC’s unique requirements.

As reported by 24housing, a Commons Work and Pensions committee evidence last month director general of the UC programme Neil Couling asked housing associations for help in moving tenants through the roll-out.

Along with willingness to data share discussions, government has also confirmed managed migration of UC will begin in July 2019 – not with testing in January 2019 as previously indicated – meaning only 10,000 claimants will be migrated before 2020.

Overall, government has now accepted the vast majority of recommendations, which also include:

  • Legacy claimants being migrated now having three months in which to make a UC claim before their legacy benefits are cut off (previous plans gave them one month)
  • Migrating claimants now able to backdate their UC claim for up to one month if they miss the deadline to claim UC

This is all in addition to the budget announcements, which were:

  • A two-week run on of JSA/ESA/IS, implemented from July 2020
  • A reduction in the maximum rate at which Third Party Deductions (TPDs) can be deducted from a UC award (reduced from 40% of standard allowance to 30%). Implemented from October 2019
  • An extension of the period in which advance payments are recovered. Increased to 16 months from 12 months. Implemented from October 2021
  • Increase in work allowance of £1,000
  • Extension of the 12-month grace period for self-employed claimants. Fully implemented from September 2020

Having worked closely with DWP and MPs from all parties to highlight the challenges UC presents to housing associations in Wales, CHC was one of the first to welcome the changes.

It’s work that CHC Policy and Programmes Manager Will Atkinson said would continue in supporting members through the managed migration process.

“A number of amendments proposed by housing associations in Wales have been adopted, including lengthening the amount of time in which people have to make a UC claim before their existing benefits are stopped,” said Atkinson.

“We also welcome the more measured approach to the start of the managed migration process, with a small number of claimants due to be transferred in the first six months.

“These amendments will help prevent claimants losing out financially during the migration process.

“We look forward to working closely with UK Government to ensure that the process is fully fit for purpose before implementation in July 2019,” he said.

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