'THINK' May 2022 Edition

The Advice NI Policy & Information team is delighted to publish this May 2022 edition of our policy eNewsletter ‘THINK’.

Updates & Legislation

Advice NI Urge Legacy Benefit Claimants Not To Gamble on Universal Credit

Kevin Higgins, Head of Policy:

“Firstly I would like to reassure people in Northern Ireland who may be concerned about headlines in the media about Government plans to move people off legacy benefits and on to Universal Credit. We do not expect this process to commence here until 2023.

Just to be clear, the key message is ‘don’t gamble on Universal Credit’. If you are currently receiving legacy benefits and are thinking about moving to Universal Credit ALWAYS seek independent advice so that you can make an informed choice. Otherwise you should wait until you are called forward for managed migration when you will be protected against any potential loss of income.”

Advice NI urge legacy benefit claimants not to gamble on Universal Credit

Advice NI urges claimants to note their weekly / monthly legacy payments to be able to check they are getting the right amount of UC including TP when they are migrated across. See Data Transfer query from Vicky Foxcroft, in Parliamentary Questions section of this edition of Think.


Royal Assent for Welfare Supplementary Payments Act

Welfare Supplementary Payments (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 means that the Bedroom Tax mitigation now enshrined in legislation:

Welfare Supplementary Payments Act 2022


HIA Compensation Disregarded as Income

This legislation means that any compensation paid by the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, will not be taken into account when a benefit award is calculated by DfC.

The Social Security Regulations 2021


Independent Review of Discretionary Support

The Department for Communities currently delivers Discretionary Support, which is a unique scheme introduced in Northern Ireland in 2016. The Department commissioned an independent panel to complete a review of Discretionary Support in June 2021 and they have produced a report making a number of recommendations for improvements to the scheme.

Discretionary Support Independent Review


Marie Curie Poverty Report

Marie Curie research reveals the scale of poverty at the end of life in the UK for the first time:

Marie Curie: Poverty


Covid Vaccine Toolkit

The purpose of this toolkit is to provide a central point of access to materials and resources for individuals and organisations seeking to promote COVID-19 vaccination uptake within their local communities. The toolkit is designed for use by HSC Trusts, Communities Pharmacy and Local Councils, as well as groups from the Community and Voluntary Sector. The toolkit contains resources targeted at the general population, as well as materials specifically designed for target audience groups:



“Long Covid Work” – Vocational Rehabilitation, Education and Training Group

Long Covid Work is the newly formed core vocational rehabilitation, education and training group. Now emerging as experts by both experience and professional expertise, Long Covid Work aims to provide commercial services to businesses and employers which will support individuals with Long Covid to stay in, return to or leave work well.



Domestic Abuse: Right to Statutory Paid Leave

An Act providing the right to statutory paid leave for employees who are victims of domestic abuse in Northern Ireland has received Royal Assent.

Granted Royal Assent on 12 May 2022, the Domestic Abuse (Safe Leave) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 requires the Department for the Economy to make regulations entitling employees who are victims of domestic abuse to paid 'safe leave' of at least ten days in each leave year for the purpose of issues relating to the domestic abuse.

NI Assembly: Domestic Abuse Bill


DWP UC Sanction Rate Now Higher Than Pre-Pandemic

This is the latest quarterly release of statistics on Benefit Sanctions and includes data up to January 2022.

New DWP statistics show that the universal credit sanction rate is now higher than the pre-Covid-19 position: more than 38,000 adverse universal credit sanctions decisions were made in January 2022, the highest number across the whole statistical timeseries.

Statistics covered in this bulletin include data for sanction decisions during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Conditionality was reintroduced from 1 July 2020 on a phased approach and as capacity allowed. This affects data for Universal Credit (UC) and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) sanctions. The next statistics release will be in August 2022.

Benefit Sanctions Statistics to January 2022


Help with Rates: Changes

The Department of Finance Land & Property Services will cease to administer Housing Benefit (Rates) and Low Income Rate Relief for Owner Occupiers from 31st May 2022. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive will administer Housing Benefit (rates) and Low Income Rate Relief for Owner Occupiers from 1st June 2022 onwards.

  • HB for Rates and Low Income Rates Relief for Owner Occupiers administered by NIHE
  • HB for Rent and Rates for Tenants administered by NIHE
  • NIHE can be contacted by calling 03448 920 902
  • UC Rate Rebate for Owner Occupiers administered by LPS
  • UC Rate Rebate for Tenants administered by LPS
  • LPS can be contacted by calling the helpline on 0300 200 7802

NI Direct: Guide Rates
Housing Executive takes over the administration of owner occupier claims for Housing Benefit and Low Income Rate Relief

Currently Land & Property Services (LPS) administer claims relating to Housing Benefit (HB) (Rates) and Low Income Rate Relief (LIRR) for Owner Occupiers.  From 1st June 2022 the Housing Executive will be responsible for administering HB(Rates) and LIRR for Owner Occupiers.

Why is this change happening?

In April 2018, the Department of Finance and the Department for Communities carried out a review of the delivery arrangements for HB (Rates) and LIRR for Owner Occupiers to identify potential improvements in the customer journey and maximise efficiencies in its administration. It was agreed that the Housing Executive would administer HB (Rates) and LIRR for Owner Occupiers.

What does this mean for claimants?

Existing claimants and those who are eligible to apply for HB (Rates) and LIRR should follow the advice below.

Before 1st June 2022:

Claimants who are owner occupiers should continue to contact LPS if they have any questions about HB and LIRR, or to let LPS know about a change in their circumstances that might affect their entitlement up to and including 31st May 2022. All new applications for HB (Rates) or LIRR should also be made to LPS up to and including 31st May 2022.  LPS can be contacted by calling the helpline on 0300 200 7802.

From 1st June 2022 onwards:

All new applications for HB or LIRR must be made to the Housing Executive from 1st June 2022.Claimants should contact the Housing Executive with any queries about their entitlements or to report a change which may affect their HB and LIRR claim. The Housing Executive can be contacted by visiting:

Housing Executive: Making a Claim for Housing Benefit
or by phoning 03448 920 902.

The use of LPS Housing Benefit application forms will end on 31st May 2022, LPS will not accept these forms after this date. Applicants will be required to use the Housing Executive’s forms from 1st June 2022. If you have any concerns or feedback in relation to the Project Team by emailing:



UK Inflation Hits 40-year High of 9%

Prices are rising at their fastest rate for 40 years as higher energy bills hit millions of households. UK inflation, the rate at which prices rise, jumped to 9% in the 12 months to April, up from 7% in March. The surge came as millions of people saw an unprecedented £700-a-year increase in energy costs last month. Higher fuel and food prices, driven by the Ukraine war, are also pushing the cost of living up, with inflation expected to continue to rise this year.

BBC News: UK Inflation Hits 40-Year High of 9% as Energy Bills Soar

Advice NI respond to latest soaring inflation figures:

Responding to the latest inflation figures Kevin Higgins, Head of Policy, Advice NI said:

"People on the lowest incomes – both in and out of work – have endured a decade of austerity; with freezes and cuts to social security benefits. They now find themselves disproportionately affected by the current cost of living crisis; crushing energy bills and faced with the stark choice of going cold or hungry to make ends meet. The Consumer Price Index has now spiked to 9.0%, but let’s not forget the Retail Price Index which has actually spiked to 11.1%.

The out-of-touch Chancellor has failed to recognise the plight of low income families, choosing to ignore the current crisis by sticking to the out-of-date benefit uprating formula which uses the September 2021 inflation figure of 3.1%. Little wonder the Government's own Office for Budget Responsibility states that the rise in inflation to a 40-year high this year will reduce real household disposable incomes leading to the biggest fall in living standards in any single financial year since records began. Advice NI is calling for the Government to do more to help low income families whose budgets are already at breaking point. A start would be to uprate benefits in line with the current inflation figures to provide people with some sort of income adequacy to cope with the current crisis. Increased poverty, hardship and destitution will be the consequences of a failure to act."


Statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Cost of Living Support

Statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Cost of Living Support.

Gov UK: Cost of living support
NI Direct: Cost living support


Martin Lewis Rishi Sunak Interview

Metro: Martin Lewis grills Sunak over timing of Sue Gray Report


The Case for Living Wages Report

A report on how paying living wages strengthens business performance, resilience and stability, while delivering measurable social impact and enabling businesses to more effectively deliver on human and labour rights obligations.

Business Fights Poverty: Register the case for living wages


Northern Ireland Benefits Statistics Summary (Published May 2022)

The Northern Ireland Benefits Statistics Summary is the official source for benefits statistics in Northern Ireland.

DfC: Benefits statistics summary

Information Officer Updates

Notice to Quit Periods for Private Tenants

Welcome news prior to the election that the Private Tenancies (Northern Ireland) Act 2022 received royal assent. Whilst the legislation does not offer the same protection afforded by temporary measures introduced during the pandemic, it does establish permanent requirements on landlords in relation to notice to quit periods. Further details on the new rules, which came into force on 5 May 2022, are available from the Housing Rights website:

New Law Changes Notice to Quit Periods for Private Tenants in Northern Ireland

Housing Rights will also be running an online information session to introduce the provisions in the Act on Wednesday 15 June:

Private Tenancies Act Information Session


Access to Benefits for Persons From Ukraine

Further to our reference to the legislation in last month’s briefing, the Department for Communities has now published memos relating to the application of the Social Security (Habitual Residence and Past Presence) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2022, which exempts certain persons arriving in Northern Ireland from Ukraine from residence tests for benefit entitlement:

ADM Memo 8/22
DMG Memo Vol 2/96

It is worth noting that, in addition to the specific exemption introduced for those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, the wording of regulations has been simplified to exempt all those granted some form of leave outside the Immigration Rules with recourse to public funds.


Statutory Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay

The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022, the Parental Bereavement Leave Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2022 and the Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (General) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2022 have collectively introduced a new right to two weeks’ paid leave for parents following the death of a child under 18 or a stillbirth at later than 24 weeks with effect from 6 April 2022.

In addition, the Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay (Consequential Amendments to Subordinate Legislation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2022 outline the way in which this new type of leave and pay should be treated for benefit purposes. Context is provided in ADM Memo 7/22 and DMG Memo Vol 4/155.

Members Section

Advice Space
With thanks to Graham Higgin, Advice Space for highlighting:

Disregarded Income Legislation

The Income-Related Benefits (Local Welfare Provision Disregard) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2022 (SR.No.172/2022) enact that from 5/5/2022 payments under the Homes for Ukraine scheme are disregarded in assessing income for means-tested benefits. These payments also do not count as capital for purposes of Universal Credit. This has been done by expanding the definition of ““local welfare provision” to include emergency payments "to meet, an immediate short term need that requires to be met in order to avoid a risk to the well-being of an individual." It seems that the extension of the definition of LWP is now so broad that any type of LWP will be disregarded.

The Income-Related Benefits Regulations 2022

Memos published by the Department are also available:
Communities NI: ADM Memo 09/22
Communities NI: DMG Memo Vol 5/119

Parliamentary Questions

Move to UC: Ministerial Statement

Dr Thérèse Coffey The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

In 2012, Parliament voted to end legacy benefits and replace them with a single modern benefit system, Universal Credit (UC). The UC system stood up to the challenges of the pandemic and ensured support was provided for a significant number of new claimants with varying needs across the country. As the rest of government and society returns to business as usual, it is appropriate to resume the process to complete the move to UC by 2024.

There are around 2.6 million households receiving legacy benefits and tax credits who need to move across to UC. The natural migration process, where claimants experience a change in circumstances and consequently move to UC, has largely continued throughout the last two years. The voluntary migration process has also been available throughout. We are taking steps to increase people’s awareness of the fact that they could be better off financially if they were receiving Universal Credit, including through the publication of our document, Completing the Move to Universal Credit, today on GOV.UK. I will place copies in the libraries of both Houses.

In that document, we set out our analysis which estimates that 1.4 million (55%) of those on legacy benefits or tax credits would receive a higher entitlement on UC than on legacy benefits and would benefit from moving voluntarily, rather than waiting for a managed migration. This is particularly the case for tax credit claimants, with our analysis estimating around two-thirds of them would benefit. That is why we have included information on UC in this year’s renewal forms for current tax credit recipients. It is important for current recipients to satisfy themselves that they would be better off on UC using independent benefit calculators before moving voluntarily, as once the claim is made, recipients cannot revert to tax credits or legacy benefits, nor receive any transitional protection payments. More information is included in the document.

For those claimants who do not choose to move and have not migrated naturally, we will manage their migration to UC. Parliament committed to providing transitional financial protection to those who are moved onto UC through the managed migration process. Whilst many households will be better off financially on UC, for those with a lower calculated award in UC than in their legacy benefits, transitional protection will be provided for eligible households. This means they will see no difference in their entitlement at the point they are moved to UC, provided there is no change in their circumstances during the migration process.

Before the pandemic, the department had started testing processes for managed migration in a pilot based in Harrogate. In 2020, the pilot was stopped to handle the significant increase in new claims for UC resulting from the pandemic. During this pilot there was proactive engagement with 80 people, 38 of these were moved to UC. 35 claimants were better off and only three people required transitional protection. The remainder of moves were not completed before the pilot was stopped. This pilot only involved claimants that the department had an existing relationship with. No claimants on Working Tax Credits were approached directly to commence a Move to UC.

The pilot provided valuable insights. First, while claimants will likely look for support from organisations they already know, such as a local authority, we are no longer assuming that all engagement needs to be managed by that organisation. Second, claimants can and will move autonomously, but some may need more support, particularly on digital access. The pandemic reinforced the importance of claimants being able to manage their own claims online and the strength of this system. Third, claimants can successfully choose a date for their claim, factoring in other income and expenditure points during the month. Finally, the pilot allowed the department to understand the processes and tools required to complete a managed move, such as those needed to calculate transitional protection.

As I have said to the House previously, we are not resuming the Harrogate pilot. We have learned from that experience and our wider experience over the last two years. As we complete the Move to UC, I am absolutely committed to making this a responsible and safe transition. Next month, we will be starting a multi-site approach across the country with a small number of claimants, approximately five hundred initially, being brought into the mandatory migration process. We will continue to develop our processes and systems to scale the migration process and complete by 2024.

We are resuming under existing regulations, though I intend to bring forward to Parliament amendments to the UC Transitional Provisions Regulations, following their consideration by the Social Security Advisory Committee.


Data Transfer: Legacy Benefits to UC

Vicky Foxcroft, Labour UIN 876

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what (a) steps her Department is taking and (b) protocols her Department is putting in place to ensure the safe transfer of data from legacy systems to the universal credit system as part of the managed migration process.

David Rutley, Conservative

When undertaking the managed migration of claimants to Universal Credit, we will not migrate data from legacy systems to Universal Credit, but we will require the claimants or their respective appointee to make a new claim to UC.

Appropriate Data Sharing agreements are in place with other Government Departments (HMRC) to ensure data is shared securely for processing Migration Notices and calculating the correct awards (including Transitional Protection).

Within DWP, Data Protection Impact Assessments have been conducted by our Data Protection Team to ensure solutions in place are secure by design to adequately protect claimants’ data before, during and post processing.

The claimant’s data will be stored in line with the DWP’s Data Retention Policy

The Department is also developing mechanisms to securely automate the transfer of data from legacy systems for use in the managed migration process.


UC Deductions

Beth Winter, Labour UIN 989

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for what reasons deductions are made from recipients' (a) universal credit and (b) other social benefit payments; and what the total value was of those deductions by those reason categories, nationally, in each month in the last 12 months.

David Rutley, Conservative

Deductions from benefit can be taken for a number of reasons, such as repayment of benefit overpayments or to cover the cost of an advance; deductions are also made to ensure claimants avoid the consequences of not paying priority debts, for example: eviction; and ensuring social obligations are met, such as child maintenance payments or court fines.

We reduced the normal maximum rate of deductions in Universal Credit from 40% to 30% to 25% of a claimant’s Standard Allowance enabling them to retain more of the award. These changes were implemented from October 2019 to April 2021. These positive measures were put in place to support claimants to manage financial difficulties.

For benefit overpayments, protocols are in place to ensure deductions are manageable and customers can contact DWP Debt Management if they are experiencing financial hardship to discuss a reduction in their rate of repayment, or a temporary suspension, depending on financial circumstances. We encourage anyone unable to afford the proposed rate of overpayment recovery to contact Debt Management - all notifications advise how to get in touch. We seek to do as much as we are able to support claimants through the recovery of their overpayments.

Information for third party deductions in Working Age legacy benefits and Pension Credit is not readily available and to provide it would incur disproportionate cost.

The available information is provided in this spreadsheet.


Universal Credit & Ukrainian nationals

Drew Hendry, Scottish National Party UIN 151191

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of the immediate removal of the two child limit for the Universal Credit Child Element for all claimants to enable Ukrainian nationals arriving in the UK are not (a) subject to limitations in available family support, and (b) made to disclose if they have being the victims of sexual violence used as a weapon of war in order to receive support for any children who may have being conceived in non-consensual conception above the two child limit.

David Rutley, Conservative

No assessment has been made. The policy applies to all children born on or after 6 April 2017 regardless of the nationality of the child.

We recognise that some claimants are not able to make the same choices about the number of children in their family. That is why exceptions have been put in place to protect certain groups, including those likely to have been born as a result of non-consensual conception. This includes rape or where the claimant was in a controlling or coercive relationship with the child’s other biological parent at the time of conception. In this case, before a claim is approved, claimants are asked to contact a suitable third-party professional who can confirm the claimant’s circumstances, as described by them, are consistent with the criteria for the exception. The third-party professional does not judge the credibility of the claimant’s statement or require any further evidence.

Furthermore, On 9th July 2021, the Supreme Court handed down the judicial review judgement on the two-child Policy. The court found the two-child Policy lawful and not in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.


Universal Credit

Rachael Maskell, Labour UIN 150219

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will remove the five-week wait time for universal credit in the context of the increases in the cost of living.

David Rutley, Conservative

There are no plans to change the payment structure of Universal Credit.

The Universal Credit payment structure is a fundamental part of its design. Universal Credit reflects payment patterns in the world of work, where the majority of people are paid monthly or four-weekly. Ensuring similarities between paid employment and being on benefits eliminates an important barrier which could prevent claimants from adjusting to paid employment.

When joining Universal Credit, no new claimant has to wait 5 weeks before receiving financial support from DWP. This is because, if new claimants need support before their first award payment is made, all new claimants can request an advance of their entitlement to support them. This advance means that new claimants can receive a payment of up to the expected amount of their UC award during their first assessment period, which can then be repaid over a period of 24 months.


Universal Credit Managed Migration

Ms Karen Buck, Labour

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to her Department’s acceptance in principle of recommendation 3 of the Social Security Advisory Committee’s report on the draft Universal Credit (Managed Migration) Regulations 2018, whether her Department has (a) carried out the impact assessment of the migration plans and (b) put together the action plan for any adverse impacts identified.

This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.

David Rutley, Conservative

We have conducted detailed Equality Assessments of migration plans as part of our Public Sector Equality Duty. We will test and evaluate our approach to managed migration and will reassess equality impacts in accordance with the evaluation results.

We will restart managed migration, in May 2022, on a small scale before we take on larger volumes. This will enable us to assess the impacts and refine our processes to ensure they are working well before increasing the scale of managed migration. Our plan remains to complete the rollout of Universal Credit safely and on time by the end of 2024, carefully considering those claimants who are most vulnerable and with complex needs.


Universal Credit

Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Labour UIN 125419

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what estimate her Department has made of the (a) response time by work coaches to people who have submitted entries on their online universal credit journal, and (b) call waiting time for people seeking support with a universal credit claim from her Department’s helpline; and if she will make an assessment of the adequacy of those waiting times.

David Rutley, Conservative

Universal Credit is a 24/7 digital service that allows claimants to manage their own data and account online. Via their account, claimants can check their Universal Credit benefit payments, notify us of changes and record notes on the online journal facility. The journal is primarily used to support work search activity and not every journal entry requires a response.

The Case Manager or Work Coach receives a notification in real time each time a claimant submits an entry to their online journal. Journal entries are monitored daily as part of our case management approach.

The Universal Credit helpline is available to support claimants who are unable to access digital services. We regularly review our resources, both internally and with our suppliers, to ensure we meet customer demand across all contact services, including our phone lines.

Average Speed of Answer measures the average customer wait time from the point of entering a queue to connection to an agent. The Average Speed of Answer for all Universal Credit Service Lines for January 2022 was 33 seconds.

Note: The data is derived from unpublished management information which was collected for internal departmental use only and has not been quality assured to National Statistics or Official Statistics publication standard. The data should therefore be treated with caution.


Carers Allowance

Beth Winter, Labour UIN 151310

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether she plans to make an assessment of the potential merits of extending eligibility for carer’s allowance to include people to who are claiming other social security benefits including state retirement pension.

Chloe Smith, Conservative

There are already circumstances in which people can receive Carer’s Allowance and other benefits. For example, around 239,000 carer households on Universal Credit receive both the Carer Element (worth around an additional £2,000 a year) and Carer’s Allowance.

Specifically on pensioner carers, although there is no upper age limit to claiming Carer’s Allowance, it cannot normally be paid with the State Pension. It has been a long held feature of the UK’s benefit system, under successive Governments, that where someone is entitled to two benefits for the same contingency, then whilst there may be entitlement to both benefits, only one will be paid to avoid duplication for the same need. Although entitlement to State Pension and Carer’s Allowance arise in different circumstances they are nevertheless designed for the same contingency – as an income replacement. Carer’s Allowance replaces income where the carer has given up the opportunity of full-time employment in order to care for a severely disabled person, while State Pension replaces income in retirement. For this reason, social security rules operate to prevent them being paid together, to avoid duplicate provision for the same need.

However, if a carer’s State Pension is less than Carer's Allowance, State Pension is paid and topped up with Carer's Allowance to the basic weekly rate of Carer's Allowance which is currently £69.70.

Where Carer’s Allowance cannot be paid, the person will keep underlying entitlement to the benefit. This gives access to the additional amount for carers in Pension Credit of £38.85 a week and potentially other means-tested support. Around 118,000 people are receiving the Carer Premium with their Pension Credit. And even if a pensioner’s income is above the limit for Pension Credit, they may still be able to receive Housing Benefit.


Habitual Residence Test

Kate Osamor, Labour UIN 154212

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether it is her Department's policy that all benefit claimants should reasonably be expected to be aware of whether they do or do not pass the habitual residence test.

David Rutley, Conservative

Access to DWP income-related benefits such as Universal Credit flows from an individual’s immigration status. The Department assesses this through the Habitual Residence Test, which has two elements: a legal right to reside test and an objective assessment of factual evidence of habitual residence. Those eligible to claim Universal Credit are required to have established habitual residence in the UK and be exercising a right to reside in the UK which grants eligibility to receive public funds (e.g. Indefinite Leave to Remain or Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme).

EU citizens with pre-settled status have the same access to benefits as they did prior to the introduction of the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). They will satisfy the right to reside element of the Habitual Residence Test and can access benefits if they are exercising a qualifying right to reside, such as a worker or self-employed person, and are habitually resident in the UK.

Guidance on the Habitual Residence Test can be found within Chapter C1: International Issues within the Advice for Decision Makers guide:

Gov UK: Advice for decision making staff guide

Those who undertake the Habitual Residence Test will receive a letter explaining the decision, either for a pass or a fail. In respect of Universal Credit, this letter is uploaded to the claimant’s journal. If the claimant does not agree with the decision, and they have additional evidence to support their claim, they have the right to apply for a mandatory reconsideration.


Risk Review Team

Kate Osamor, Labour UIN 1249

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of cases reviewed by her Department's Risk Review Team have been issued with a negative habitual residence test decision in each of the last two years.

David Rutley, Conservative

The Department’s Risk Review Team (RRT) was established in May 2020, as part of the Department’s response to direct fraud threats that emerged in the early days of the pandemic.

Since the team was established, processes have evolved; as a result detailed records on Habitual Residence Test (HRT) outcomes in cases reviewed by RRT are only available from 5th July 2021.

I can confirm that, since that date, 608 of the 9676 claims reviewed by RRT in that period failed the HRT; this represents just over 6%.


Kate Osamor, Labour UIN 1250

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many universal credit claims have been suspended by her Department's Risk Review Team since January 2022.

David Rutley, Conservative

DWP does not suspend benefit payment lightly and our Risk Review Team only do so in cases where intelligence indicates a high risk of fraud.

I can confirm that 1532 Universal Credit claims have being suspended as a result of Risk Review Team activity since January 2022.


Kate Osamor, Labour UIN 1251

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if she will publish the guidance used by her Department's Risk Review Team to determine which cases to review.

David Rutley, Conservative

The methods used to identify cases reviewed by the Risk Review Team are sensitive and, as such, we are not able to provide the mechanics of how they are identified.

Putting such methods or the guidance in the public domain, would risk undermining the ability of DWP to detect and counter fraudulent threats.


Kate Osamor, Labour UIN 1252

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of the cases reviewed by the Risk Review Team have been suspended as a result of suspected (a) fraud and (b) error as of 12 May 2022.

David Rutley, Conservative

DWP does not suspend benefit lightly.

All the 175,826 claims suspended by the Risk Review Team to date have been as a result of suspected fraud.

None have been suspended as the result of error.


Cost of Living Crisis

Lord Roberts of Llandudno. Liberal Democrat UIN HL7582

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether the current level of benefits is sufficient to meet the rising costs of living.

Baroness Stedman-Scott, Conservative

The Secretary of State undertakes an annual review of benefits and pensions using the Consumer Prices Index in the year to September. This is the latest figure that the Secretary of State can use to allow sufficient time for the required legislative and operational changes before new rates can be introduced at the start of the following April. All benefit up-rating since April 1987 has been based on the increase in the relevant price inflation index in the 12 months to the previous September.

The government understands the pressures people are facing with the cost of living. These are global challenges, and the government has taken action to support families with help worth over £22 billion in 2022-23.

The £22bn of extra support includes the £9.1bn energy package, the Universal Credit taper rate reduction from 63% to 55%, the increase in the Universal Credit work allowance by £500 per annum and the doubling of the Household Support Fund to £1bn by providing an extra £500 million from April 2022, on top of the £500 million already provided since October 2021.


Local Housing Allowance

Baroness Lister of Burtersett, Labour UIN HL7749

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of renters unable to cover rents as a result of the freezing of the Local Housing Allowance rate.

Baroness Stedman-Scott, Conservative

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates determine the maximum housing support for Housing Benefit and Universal Credit claimants in the private rented sector. LHA rates are not intended to meet all rents in all areas.

In April 2020 we increased LHA rates to the 30th percentile of local rents, costing nearly £1 billion and providing 1.5 million claimants with £600 more in housing support, on average over 2020-21, than they would have otherwise received.

LHA rates have been maintained at their increased levels in 2021-22 and will remain at those levels for 2022-23, so that everyone who benefitted from the increase will continue to do so.

A claimant’s ability to cover their rental costs will be unique to the individual. For those who require additional help with housing costs Discretionary Housing Payments are available from local authorities (LAs). Since 2011 we have provided almost £1.5 billion to LAs to help support people who face a shortfall in meeting their rental housing costs.


Parliamentary Question For Written Answer


Baroness Lister of Burtersett

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Stedman-Scott on 6 April (HL7286), what steps they are taking to ensure that deductions to Universal Credit payments never exceed the standard cap rate of 25 per cent.

Baroness Stedman Scott

There is a normal maximum amount that can be deducted, which is no more than 25% of the Standard Allowance. These deductions are calculated based on the claimant’s Standard Allowance only, as it is intended to pay towards basic day-today living costs and repaying priority debts is considered one of those costs.

Before deductions are considered, any fraud penalty, conditionality sanction or Universal Credit advance repayment that the claimant is making are taken into account. If these are equal to or exceed 25% of the claimant’s Standard Allowance, no further deductions will be taken except for last resort deductions. The 25% cap will continue to ensure that priority debts and other debts are repaid, ensuring that claimants with significant debts are able to retain more of their monthly award for their day-to-day needs, such as paying off their utility’s bills or housing costs.


Baroness Lister of Burtersett

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Stedman-Scott on 24 March (HL6871), what plans they have, if any, to publish (1) the evaluation strategy, (2) the evaluation, and (3) the equality impact assessments for managed migration updated to take into account the experience gained from each stage of (a) the Harrogate managed migration pilot, and (b) the managed migration discovery phase.

Baroness Stedman-Scott

The Department did not complete an Evaluation Strategy of the Harrogate pilot. The pilot was suspended as the Department prioritised the handling of a significant increase in new claims for Universal Credit (‘UC’) in response to the Covid pandemic. However, early lessons and observations surrounding the Harrogate pilot were captured and have been fed into the strategy for completing the rollout of UC. The Department is currently updating its Equality Analysis to ensure the Secretary of State has complied with her duties under the Equality Act 2010, and had due regard to the equality impacts of the resumption of managed migration. There is no requirement to record or publish this in the form of an equality impact assessment and we do not intend to publish the analysis.


Baroness Lister of Burtersett

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many notified persons involved in the Universal Credit managed migration pilot in Harrogate missed their deadline day for claiming Universal Credit; and of this group, how many notified persons (1) did not subsequently have their deadline extended, (2) subsequently had their deadline extended, (3) claimed Universal Credit by their final deadline, and (4) did not claim Universal Credit by their final deadline.

Baroness Stedman-Scott

6 notified persons missed their deadline date for claiming Universal Credit. Of these:

  1. 0 did not subsequently have their deadline extended
  2. 6 subsequently had their deadline extended
  3. 3 claimed Universal Credit by their final deadline
  4. 0 did not claim Universal Credit by their final deadline

As we stopped the pilot to focus on the response to the pandemic, three of the six extended deadlines were cancelled, hence the discrepancy between two, three and four.


Carers Allowance

Colleen Fletcher, Labour UIN 142004

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment she has made of the adequacy of Carers Allowance payments to support unpaid carers meet the increased costs of living.

Chloe Smith, Conservative The Government recognises people are facing pressures with the cost of living which is why we are providing support