Spring 2020 Welfare Reform Update


Following the general election in December 2019, the new government has made a number of announcements and legislative changes affecting the overall welfare reform programme, including a number of announcements in response to the COVID-19 crisis. This session examined these and provided details of their impact.

This series of CBRS benefits events will provided an update on the welfare reform process, concentrating on universal credit, housing benefit and local council tax support. The sessions included detail on the measures introduced to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as far as it impacts on local authorities. 

The morning session began with an overview of the new government’s announced intentions and legislative changes affecting the overall welfare reform programme and an analysis of changes made to the annual uprating of benefit levels for 2020/21, including the impact of changes made to the uprating of local housing allowances. 

This was followed by an update on the continuing roll-out of universal credit. The session examined the latest figures relating to universal credit claims and the progress and timescale towards full roll out impact of universal credit, including progress on both natural migration and managed migration of legacy benefit claims. The session also examined the latest developments in the operation of universal credit, the impact of COVID-19 on universal credit claims and on claimants.

The afternoon began with a session which provided an update on issues relating to local authorities’ retained responsibilities for administering and paying housing benefit claims, including an update on the impact of COVID-19 on a range of housing benefit claims including supported and temporary accommodation, homelessness, discretionary housing payments (DHPs) and ensuring accurate verification of claims. 

In particular the sessions discussed the impact of a recent ruling of the Supreme Court as well as examining the implications of recent findings by the local government and social care ombudsman.

The day ended with a round-up of issues relating to local council tax support schemes (CTS) including amendments to the prescribed requirements regulations as they affect the assessments under the statutory scheme for pensioners and discusses the consideration of additional hardship awards under s13A(1)(c) using the additional funding announced by MHCLG.


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