8:56 AM, 10th January 2018, About 5 years ago 4
I’m delighted to start the New Year with a piece of good news for those of you who make use of the Alternative Payment Scheme (APA) to secure redirection of the tenant’s “housing costs”. DWP has just confirmed its staff have been instructed “explicit consent” will no longer be required in relation to the progressing of APA requests.
Prior to this, it had been insisting “explicit consent” from the tenant was a requirement before an APA application could be progressed. This, in turn, caused countless thousands of landlords (social & private) to lose many £000’s of rental income, due to the fact, tenants were either delaying or refusing consent and by doing so, many were accessing and misusing their “housing element” (public funds) at the landlords’ expense.
I referred to the scandalous situation in an e-mail exchange with Neil Couling as detailed. Please see >> https://www.property118.com/open-letter-dwp-neil-couling-regarding-universal-credit/
Dear Mr. Couling,
With the help of the Residential Landlord Association and Caridon Group, we redoubled our efforts to highlight what was happening, hoping this would force DWP to change tack.
We did this by Caridon and myself pursuing many complaints, firstly through the DWP’s “Complaints Process” and more recently, we referred 7 cases to the Independent Case Examiner (ICE). Each case, exposes £000’s in rental loss, despite DWP’s knowledge of what was happening, and are all related to serious flaws in both the APA and complaints processes. RLA meet regularly with DWP and its Directors and Members have been constantly lobbying for a range of changes as the current arrangements are still not fit for purpose.
DWP’s Complaints & Resolution staff, in conversation with our clients have often expressed considerable sympathy to the landlords’ predicament. They recognised the absurdity of the situation, whereas, DWP’s hierarchy simply continued to try and defend its indefensible position. The Game-changer, in my opinion, was the submission of the detailed referrals to ICE, as this is the first truly independent stage in the “Complaints Process” which prompted exchanges with DWP seeking explanations. ICE has a track record of being highly critical of the DWP administration, finding in favour of the complainant in 50% of past referrals.
Following DWP’s revised instructions to staff, we’re now even more confident, ICE will find merit in our argument, DWP is guilty of maladministration, causing landlords wholly avoidable rental loss, and will recommend suitable compensation for landlords, as currently happens with Housing Benefit. We also believe, an ICE recommendation, to this effect, could also force DWP to compensate the many copycat cases that exist, so it’s vitally important landlords continue to pursue complaints through DWP to ICE.
Removing “explicit consent” in relation to APA processing, represents a major success for social & private landlords, as it should ensure future APA requests are processed much quicker and should help to avoid a repeat of the substantial losses we have seen in the past two years. But few, if any landlords, will be aware of the change as DWP has chosen to explain the change in an internal memorandum, rather than a public announcement. We suspect many DWP frontline staff will still be oblivious to the new guidance and may be unintentionally frustrating new APA requests.
So, it’s critically important we share the information with you and your staff and highlight its potential benefits on a range of social media platforms and in the training sessions we offer.
If you need advice or information about the DWP Complaints Process; who to direct your complaints to; and how to prosecute complaints through the various stages please feel free to contact Bill Irvine UC Advice email@example.com or 07733 080 389 or Sherrelle Collman Caridon Landlord Solutions.
We are able to provide information on this or any other Universal Credit/Welfare Reform topic.
Bill Irvine UC advice