Who is banging their head against a wall with Universal Credit?

by Mick Roberts

9:59 AM, 13th February 2017
About 4 years ago

Who is banging their head against a wall with Universal Credit?

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Who is banging their head against a wall with Universal Credit?

Are any of you landlords struggling with Universal Credit?bang head

I have just used someone who could be our answer to not being paid at all.

Yes me too, I’ve just used Sherrelle & Caridon, & my complicated case has been solved. Mental health issues tenant claimed Universal Credit (UC), as long as he was getting his money, he forgot to tell UC that he had to pay rent!
I started the phone calls, but due to my earlier experience with UC 11 months earlier, I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere.
I even rang UC while I was with the tenant, you can quite clearly tell he is not all there on the phone & UC still wouldn’t talk to me. Aaahhhh..
If anyone knows, UC won’t take emails either (yes in 2017).

On my first case Feb/March 2016. I gave up in the end. UC wouldn’t talk to me, wasn’t replying to any of my letters. I heard (at that time), the complaints process was virtually non existent.
Fortunately my tenant was honest & good & sorted the claim out & pays etc. If she hadn’t, I’d have probably then spent dozens of dozens of man hours getting nowhere.

So last month, I had my second UC tenant (In Nottingham, it’s just single people with break in their claim or new claimants that have to go onto UC). Aaahhh, I asked some Landlord mates, what do I do? Mark Alexander duly replied saying give these a shout: http://www.caridonlandlordsolutions.co.uk

For those that know me, you’ll know that I’m an expert at Housing Benefit (HB). Along with Jonathan Clarke & Robert Mellors & Bill Irvine & a few others, I am very VERY experienced in Housing Benefit.
Over the past 20 years or so, I have learnt it inside out, got access to some top people inside the HB authorities.

Normally solve most problems, with an email & a phone call.

When mates come to me to help sort their HB problem, they think I’m a magician, what they cannot do, is easy to me. I know the process. So if someone like me, is using Sherrelle at Cardion, that has got to be good recommendation for you less than experienced HB landlords. Sherrelle is my UC magician!

As Bill Irvine will tell u, this UC is NOTHING like HB. It’s like dealing with a load of 15 year old robots from another planet that has been sent here to give as much money as possible to tenants to spend on wasteful things, & at all costs my dear little robots, do not pay the landlord, let’s make his life torturous, so he will never want a UC tenant again.

My mate says to me, but why are you paying, what are you getting for your money? Good question.
I wasn’t getting ANY rent in, could have took me months & maybe 40 hours. How much is your 40 hours worth?

If it takes you longer, you could end up working for 50p an hour, or even no pay if you don’t solve the claim.

Even if we was paying admin staff, I know we’d have paid out much more in man hours than Caridon charge for their expertise. Sherrelle has instant contacts in one phone call. People that will listen to her. It’s took me years to get these contacts in Housing Benefit, I don’t want to spend another 20 years getting high up contacts in UC.

With Caridon, your headache is gone. Yes it does cost, but it costs more to pay your mortgage with no rent in.

When my claim was done, UC still cocked up, I let Sherrelle know & she sorted it within 24 hours.

I want to help struggling UC Landlords not get walked all over by UC, by recommending Sherrelle at Caridon.

Editors Note:

For further information and how Sherrelle and Caridon can help please see the articles below.

Universal Credit and Benefit Cap Training

Universal Credit Advice For Landlords

Comments

Robert Mellors

23:58 PM, 9th March 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "SHARON MOXON" at "09/03/2017 - 23:08":

Hi Sharon

Thank you for your reply, and I look forward to the further reply when you have the answers to the queries. Certainly getting an insider's view of the UC system is potentially useful, because we are effectively barred from any meaningful communication with UC, the UC staff won't speak to landlords, and they won't reply to email enquiries.

I note the intention is for UC claimants to "steer" the claims themselves, but that is supposing that they are capable of doing so, and in a great many instances this is not the case. I deal mainly with people who have been homeless, and the reason they have been homeless is usually because they have been unable to deal with the benefit system (even when it was much simpler) and have ended up getting into debt and being evicted due to this. I provide supported accommodation, so my residents should not even qualify for UC, but again and again they are wrongly advised by Jobcentre Plus staff (and council staff) that they have to claim UC, so they try to do as they are told, and because this is incorrect we then have to spend months trying to resolve these problems and get the HB backdated.

For our residents that are already on UC when they are referred to us, I am told that they have to stay on UC (even though residents of supported housing are not supposed to be on UC), BUT at least they can claim HB for the rent (instead of the "housing element" of UC). However, communication between UC and the council HB staff is virtually non-existent and neither seems to know what they or each other should be doing, so the claim is batted back and forth between them, and the claimant is given false (or at best, misleading) information by both parties!

I have one resident on UC who has been waiting for UC and HB to sort out his claim for 3 months now. I have another resident who is incapable of complying with the UC requirements (due to mental health, language, and learning/comprehension difficulties) and she has been repeatedly sanctioned and has not had her full benefit entitlement for about 5 months!!! Thankfully, as a "not for profit" housing provider, our support workers can arrange regular food parcels for her.

I fully accept that you cannot discuss individual cases, but I really don't think that the decision makers and policy makers at UC have the slightest clue as to the damage they are doing to people's lives.

Robert Mellors

0:07 AM, 10th March 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "SHARON MOXON" at "09/03/2017 - 23:08":

In relation to the landlord events organised by UC, I went to one of these at my local council (just before UC started) and there was someone from UC there, but he could not answer my questions and every answer he gave was so vague that it was meaningless. The only actual information we got from him was that it would be 7 - 8 weeks before a claimant received their first payment after making a new claim for UC.

I am a member of three different landlord accreditations schemes, and I deal with eight different local authorities, but I've only been invited to perhaps three UC information events in the past 2 years, so perhaps the UC teams are not managing to get the message out to the right landlords about these training events.

Mick Roberts

8:17 AM, 10th March 2017
About 4 years ago

Sharon,

Brilliant. A Human being behind UC. Are u ready for the attack ha ha.

Yes be good, if we could have someone ONE contact to deal with at UC that understands what's happening in the real world. You aren't offering something like that to us are u?

Yes Rob, years ago HB wouldn't take emails, now they've realised it's the quickest way to get queries solved. What is confidential asking about tenants rent? And EVEN IF IF IF data got intercepted, AND? Ok, so some hacker in the Philippines knows Tracy Smith is paying £120 for 2 bed on Brook Close Bulwell? And? So what?

When I do get time, I wish to pursue the DWP UC for not responding at all. I think more of us complain, eventually they will do something.
And more so judging from Council & Housing Association arrears increasing & the extra staff being took on just to deal with UC & the amount being spent in Travelodges for UC homeless, that will trigger some action too.
Especially in times of budget cuts, we are spending hundreds of thousands on extra unneccesary staff from the same tax payer that is having to pay tenant direct, when millions could be saved paying the Landlord what the money is intended for.
There is a reason why HB started to pay Landlords direct years ago. Some (A lot) HB tenants wasn't handing over taxpayers money for what it was intended for. Wasted money, eviction, homeless, bigger cost housing homeless person in temporary accommodation. Landlord don't take HB any more. Bedlam ensues. Not rocket science is it. I don't get how the Govt can't understand this?

And that gsi email address is codswallop. Have u got one Rob? Have I? Who has got one here?
But I have got house where mortgage needs paying & it is getting in arrears, because my normal email that Solicitors take to buy a £100,000 house & Police take for instructions, is not being allowed to be used by UC.

As me Rob us know, some SOME UC won't deal with claim & HB. They want their own money & that is it. Rent money is long term thing they ain't thinking about.
This is how it has been for thousands of years & will carry on so. So many in Society need help.
Why do DWP take money direct to pay the water companies?
Why does Utility companies have Gas & Elec card meters pay as u go?
Because SOME people can't budget.

I read on & Rob has took the words right out of my mouth.

Thanks Sharon for listening & this ain't no attack on u, but please pass our thoughts forward, we know these tenants better than anyone up the chain.

Robert Mellors

8:50 AM, 10th March 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mick Roberts" at "10/03/2017 - 08:17":

I really hope that Sharon does not take any of it to be an "attack", it is not meant to be, it is just the frustration of having to try to deal with the UC system and having to evict people because of the failings of the UC system. People are being evicted every day in this country as a direct result of the UC system, it is appalling and it deeply saddens me that this is the situation. I have been homeless, I have dealt with homelessness personally, and in my professional life (both as an advice worker at the CAB, and as a homelessness officer in local authorities), and it grieves me to have to make people homeless due to the DWP cocking things up or developing policies (like UC) that cause people to fail.

In relation to the "data protection" argument about UC not sharing information, it is total rubbish, the DWP will accept information sent by email, it is just the UC teams that won't. Other departments of the DWP are willing to send and receive information by email, to non "gsi" email addresses, so if UC give data protection as their reason then it is clearly a lie (or self delusion). However, if it was really their misguided belief that they cannot accept emailed information unless it is via an encrypted email, then they should be giving landlords access to encrypted emails. Some of the local authorities I deal with send me the HB statements by email, but the email requires a password to open it. - Surely it is not beyond the abilities of the DWP to give landlords a secure email address, be that "gsi" or some other encryption, so that landlords can send information and documentation to UC via email? How can we get a "gsi" email address?

Colin McNulty

8:51 AM, 10th March 2017
About 4 years ago

I agree with Robert and Mick. Particularly about the fact that some people are simply incapable of managing an online system.

When you have a 30something tenant, who was the naughty kid and a bad school, has a drug problem, has been in and out of jail for 20 years, has a 5 minute attention span (on a good day), has no computer skills, has never had an email address, doesn't have internet access, or a computer, or a smart phone, or at the time even an ordinary oldschool mobile phone, who goes to the JobCentre to sign up for UC and is pointed at a computer and told: "You can use that." by someone who has 10 different people to help simultaneously and is the main meet and greeter for the whole JobCentre, what hope do they have?

That was the situation for one of my tenants. He went to the JobCentre 3 times in 3 weeks to sign up for UC, and walked out in frustration each time. None of that will be recorded on any gov't statistics.

Eventually just to get the claim started I had to go with him to the JobCentre and sit with him for 2 hours saying: "Click here... Click there... Type this... The 'S' key is over there, on the left...!"

Then of course because of all the above issues, he forgets when he's got appointments, doesn't have it in his head to login to email or his journal, and so doesn't see the reminders, doesn't know he's missed appointments, and doesn't even know he's been sanctioned. Of course now he's got no money, he's back committing crime to eat (and get drugs no doubt), and gets arrested for shoplifting again, and is sent back to jail. *sigh*

All the while the poor landlord still has to pay the mortgage with no rent coming in, and applications for APA / direct payments are being ignored.

Anyway Sharon, back to constructive questions. When we send in a UC47 for direct payment via email, followed by posted corroboratory documents, and then hear nothing for weeks and months, and all emails asking for updates are simply ignored (I assume simply deleted), what would you recommend as the best course of action please?

Surely it cannot be that there's not an email management system in place? I spent years in IT designing and implementing call centre software, and automatic email processing and routing is CRM 101 (Customer Relationship Management).

Is there some Service Level Agreement that UC are meant to adhere to? Is there a complaints process we can escalate cases to?

Sharon

9:17 AM, 10th March 2017
About 4 years ago

Hi Robert, Mick and Colin. I feel your pain, I really do. My team are on the receiving end of the claimants when they are on telephony duty (and that's a whole other story...) and can promise you MY site in the SE of the UK is known everywhere (including the Facebook UC Claimant Forums) as delivering a good service, however would never claim to be perfect.
Just one comment on the DPA type issues-the government are absolutely petrified of data loss and have thousands of attempts daily on their systems so the risk is massive to them. I will try to find out about the UC47 'black hole' though.
If anyone can think how we can have this conversation off-line that would help me?
I am on Facebook with the same name and photo. Maybe I shall get some new friend requests, even from one of you?
I won't break this site's rules or Civil service rules because I do need my job (someone sacked just this week for breaching Social Media Policy rules) but let's see whether we can find a way. Over to you more experienced folk on this site.
Please, please remember that I can't comment here on anything other than general info, even though some of that may be of use to use.
Off to check my FB now!

Colin McNulty

10:26 AM, 10th March 2017
About 4 years ago

I've sent you an FB friends request Sharon (and you Mick, Robert I'm afraid I can't find you).

However I don't want you to do anything you shouldn't Sharon. Educating landlords on the general UC systems and processes, without talking about individual cases, is I assume acceptable behaviour?

As Landlords we also have a duty under the DPA to protect our tenants' data, so shouldn't share their details anyway.

It does make me laugh then when councils write to me asking for the forwarding address of a previous tenant they're chasing for council tax arrears, but when I ask them for the forwarding address of a tenant who's left me with rent arrears, they refuse to tell me because of DPA! Well, I said it makes me laugh, but actually that's a lie!

Mick Roberts

18:51 PM, 10th March 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Robert Mellors" at "10/03/2017 - 08:50":

It's appalling to make people homeless because they're is a system been bought in by high up Govt who think they know best, that has cocked up this persons home.
I had to evict a good tenant of mine, been there 4 years, 'cause of Benefit cap.
Look out for her, she will be on BBC1 Panaroma &/or Channel 4 Dispatches.

Perfect Colin, that's it in a nutshell, the 30+ man that just wants to do his claim, but is now asked to pass a Maths & English Degree first.

Colin McNulty

21:43 PM, 13th March 2017
About 4 years ago

This is the link to the Parliamentary committee requesting feedback on UC. Note the deadline is the *** 20th March ***, so time's nearly up!

This is our opportunity to tell the MPs overseeing UC's implementation exactly what it's like at the UC coal face. Don't pass up this chance, they don't come around very often. (Thanks to Sharon Moxon for pointing this out.)

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/news-parliament-2015/universal-credit-re-launch-16-17/

Colin McNulty

8:33 AM, 14th March 2017
About 4 years ago

I've written my submission to the Commons Select Committee, and am happy to help anyone else with theirs, though I'm no expert.

Without being able to send messages on here, connecting with me on facebook may be the simplest option: https://www.facebook.com/colinmcnulty

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