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The RLA's Policy Officer, Natalie Williamson issued the following news report last week https://news.rla.org.uk/dwp-announce-new-phone-system/ highlighting DWP has, at long last, decided to permit you direct access to your tenant's Case Manager, when you have concerns over mounting rent arrears and possible legal action for recovery.
It's hoped the new process will improve communication and hopefully, resolve many of the issues that arise, following the tenant's claim for UC under Full Service delivery. It may also help to establish what's happening with any application (UC 47) you have made for redirection of the "housing costs element" (HCE) and that pending a decision on the merits of your application, DWP has suspended payment of the HCE.
To assist, I've broken down the steps in the processs.
•Tenant gives “explicit consent” in person, over the phone or via “online journal”
•Landlord answers 4 specific Q’s, which include:
• the telephone number the claimant has registered with Universal Credit
• tenant’s post code
• the 1st line of tenant’s address
• tenant’s date of birth.
Once completed correctly, the landlord can speak directly to the Case Manager by phoning a dedicated line 0800 328 5644
NB – Explicit Consent involves the tenant making a statement along the lines of:
“I hereby authorise my landlord’s representative - Vivian Wright, Excell Properties Ltd, to represent my interests in relation to Universal Credit. Please ensure Ms Wright is able to converse with you on any issue that relates to the submission and validation of my claim details. I also authorise you to provide full disclosure to any factor which allows her to assess whether any formal action needs to be taken to correct any omissions or mistakes in my claim or awards. If necessary, you can phone me to confirm this authority, although I believe this to be unnecessary.”
If your tenant has given consent in his/her online journal and you have all the relevant info mentioned above phone 0800 328 5644. If you phone the number without any of these factors having been complied with, you'll be redirected to DWP’s Customer Service Team.
This move, combined with the December 2017 withdrawal of "Explicit Consent" in relation to APA processing is a step in the right direction by DWP. It remains to be seen just how easy and effective it will be, but I would highly recommend you start pursuing this course of action.
The RLA is anxious to know how well or otherwise this new process works, so, please report your experiences through this thread or drop Natalie an email at the RLA.
If you require any further information on this or any other HB/UC issue please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or 07733 080 389.