Reply To: Change of address…..again!

Julian Hobson

I said I’d keep you posted. reply:

[i:4cfed83d48]There’s a lot going on in these two documents. The first, on the wretched
elephant issue, I’m inclined to stick with the advice that has been given
out by us before on the issue, because I do not think there is anything we
can possible add, given the fact that we’ve received advice from lawyers,
and procedural advice both from HB Security and BFI.

I confess to having some difficulty appreciating why this is causing so much debate – in IS/JSA (to which in my mind HB/CTB is moving slightly closer with the abolition of benefit periods), the fundamental issue about
notification of a change of circs is whether the claimant has provided
sufficient information regarding that change of circs to satisfy the
decision maker that following that change, entitlement still exists. And the
obligation is upon the claimant to do that.

If you have someone telling you that they’ve changes address, I should have thought that the majority will tell you where they have gone or intend to go to. If they don’t then the Decision Maker must surely decide whether or not they want to clarify the issue or whether they consider that the claimant has simply gone and that therefore the claim closes down.

Regarding the reg 68/68B issue – we’ll give this more thought, but the issue has already been raised by LAA reps in the DWP/Pension Credit Working Group. I’ve had a first glance through your examples, and they seem right, but we’ll look at them again.

A bit of background. We approached our lawyers on this one to check our
interpretation and they were adamant that the AIF and Savings Credit,
although connected, have separate legal identities and therefore changes in them should be treated under Reg 68/68B respectively. So, you might say “end of story”, except that I (and my colleagues) recognise that there’s lots to be said for clarity purposes in tying the two together (administratively easier, less complex etc etc). The problem is that this those factors are often not enough to sway senior officials, lawyers and especially Ministers that a regs change should be made. So, I was sympathetic to LAA arguments but considered that I needed to do more work to gather the necessary ammunition to deploy in favour of change. That (among 9,000 other things) I’m working on at the moment with the help of the LAA reps.

However, your work seems to have given me a helping hand in that it does point out yet more difficulties with the interaction of the changes in the AIF/SC on the HB/CTB case, for which thanks.

What’s next? Well, there isn’t going to be a regs change in the near future
– DWP is straining under the weight of regulatory change at the moment, and this applies across the board, not just in HB/CTB. Nonetheless, we intend to negotiate with our lawyers to see when they envisage the earliest date would be for regs changes. We’ve given an undertaking that we will revisit the Handbook and expand those sections which need further clarification. How quickly we can do this is subject to other workload pressures, but I think sometime in November would be the likeliest date (taking into account printing times etc).[/i:4cfed83d48]

So what next for us ?

Well I’m reasonably happy about the change of address issue in that we have a way (or several) of dealing with it.

I’m still extremely uncomfortable about using reg 68 for the AIF.

How can we possibly apply the beneficial change rules if there is no duty upon the customer to notify changes in income to us?
How can we contact TPS in all OP cases, of which there will be many, to see if it was TPS’s fault ?
How can we really attribute any OP to customer error if customer has a month to notify TPS ?
How do we explain that the initial change in HB (could be up or down) is due to an AIF change (old SC and new AIF) and the second change is due to the new SC (new SC and New AIF).
Do we count this as two changes of circumstances for MIS purposes?
And anything else I might of forgotten !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


No reply on the rent officer stuff yet (I did send it at a different time I don’t think it was deliberately missed on the reply on the other issues)

I’ll keep you posted