newsletter 23 July 2018

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No. 17, 19, 22, 23 and 24 and Transitional and Transitory Provisions (Modification)) (No.2) Order 2018 (SI.No.881/2018) provides for the universal credit full service to be rolled out between 5 September and 12 December 2018 in all remaining areas thus completing the roll-out of the full service across Great Britain.

Will there be any point in still calling it the “UC Full Service” after 12 December? The old “live service” will fade into history.

Latest statistics show that the rate of overpayments on Housing Benefit increased between 2015/16 and 2016/17, from 6.0% to 6.4%, the highest recorded rate ever; “the increase in the overpayment rate is largely due to an increase in failure to declare capital, which accounts for £190m of total overpayments, an increase of £103m since last year. This was mainly due to pension age claimants who accounted for £100m of the increase”.

A lot of “increases” there! One interesting thought; those who move over to Universal Credit with a Housing Benefit overpayment that proves non-recoverable may have to claim HB again when they reach pension age. There is no time limit to recover HB debt (except via the Courts when statute barred) so in theory every claimant moving over from HB to UC housing costs could return! Don’t dispose of those claims or records!

Meanwhile, new figures show that the individual insolvency rate in England and Wales has increased for the second successive year. Hbinfo often gets queries about Individual voluntary arrangements (IVA’s) and these are now at record levels.

The number of people on Universal Credit as of 14 June 2018 was 980 thousand. Of these, 360 thousand (37 per cent) were in employment. You can find more HERE

The government has introduced an amendment to increase the maximum council tax “empty homes” discretion.

The original intention was to introduce provision for councils to double the rate of council tax on properties that had been empty for two years or more. However, last week the government introduced an amendment to allow councils to triple the council tax on property left empty for five to ten years and quadruple it on those empty for more than a decade.

Some serious bills will be going out when this all starts!