Universal Credit & residential care

For information and discussion about benefits

On Wednesday, I attended a meeting at my 18 year old son's residential placement. The meeting was for a financial assessment because my son is not entitled to PIP (because he is in residential care) and he needed to claim for UC.

Universal Credit is being put in place in the area in which my son is resident, but it is not being rolled out in the area in which I live until February.

We filled in the claim as far as we could. I am going to be my son's appointee because he needs a lot of help with organisation and budgeting.

He will need a fitness assessment, which I think is similar to the assessments for ESA. He will need a more detailed financial assessment because we could not get very far with respect to verifying my son's identity. (He has no passport, his provisional licence has expired and no letters from official bodies or utility companies come to his residence.).

We are going for a verification appointment at the Jobcentre today and if he passes the ID check, he will meet his 'Job Coach'.

I am in charge of overseeing my son's online UC journal. It gives information about the categories or groups into which people will be placed - each group is related to work. My son wants to work, but at the moment he hears voices, has multiple panic attacks and is dogged by a number obsession, so he is not ready. I hope he will go into the groups in which he can start planning what he wants to do and perhaps be supported into voluntary work and so on.

The financial assessor from the council aid that the average UC was £520 pcm, which is significantly more than the amount my son receives for PIP. It is likely that some PIP will have to be paid back because my son received this whilst in residential care. However, the council will use most of that money to help pay for my son's placement and he will be left with £24.90 a week.

So, although this system is completely new to me, my initial evaluation so far is: all the groups relate to 'work' , meetings are held at the Jobcentre and the key person is a 'job coach'. My son is very eager to work, but he is not ready yet. I feel this total focus on work readiness and work related activities will put a lot of pressure on people who are not able to gain employment to focus on employment instead of therapy or well being and the professionals who oversee this process may not have the insight and experience to provide an adequate service for individuals with complex needs. Secondly, it is likely that needs will change. For example, my son will leave his residential placement. if he has not gained full time work by then, he will need financial help to pay for his accommodation and his financial needs will have changed (he will need money for food and so on). The system as it is is really complex, for example, someone has to visit me with respect to appointeeship, a health assessment needs to be undertaken, the financial assessment is still incomplete and so on. I do not know if there is sufficient flexibility for the assessments to be undertaken and processed in response to changing needs. Thirdly, what do people do if they do not have access to computers to complete their online journals? Fourthly, if, for example, someone does something that evokes a sanction, because the credit is universal, the sanction would affect the allowance an individual receives with respect to his/her disability. Surely this is neither ethical or fair?

These are just initial thoughts. I will update this post after today's meeting.
Hi Janet ... a voyage into the unknown just beginning.

One contact off forum described his experience as walking through a minefield without a map ... you only know where a mine is if you step on one. Perhaps a perfect analogy if others find the same ?

Suffice to say , keep us informed as many more readers will be venturing into a " Minefield " over the coming months , most not directly but through their caree.

The immediate concern is the so called Hotline ... to be made free shortly ( For most ? Worth checking BEFORE dialing ! ) ... undermanned ? Waiting times ?

Obviously a " Major " concession but ... without extra staff , and every likelyhood of the claimant not understanding the system in the first place ?

How many readers would select UC as their chosen , specialist , subject on Mastermind ? How many would be content with a score of 2 or , on a good day , 3 ?

A couple of reports of " Underpayments " when switching ... for example ... 3 benefits received A / B / C ... put said benefits into the UC machine and ... D comes out which is the sum of A + B + C minus X ... less than what when in ?

Another concern is what I have seen first hand 'ere in Worksop ... letting agents ... now 6 out of 7 with prominent signs inside ... Sorry , no DSS ... as if they are trying to batten down the hatches before the UC storm makes landfall on the manor !

One for all our supporting organisations , with their own advice teams , to prepare for ... an overspill of claimants not really understanding what to do after contacting the Hotline in the first instance.

One last consideration that has not been mentioned before ... some claimants may well be " Expressing an opinion " as the UC steamroller arrives on their manor ... it would be somewhat naive to expect otherwise ?

Well, the meeting was a strange experience for all of us. We were told to wait at the door of the job centre by security and then our details were taken. We sat down to wait for the appointment and what struck me is that the job centre was not full of people looking for work (which was the case when I last went there many years ago), it was full of people waiting for appointments.

We were seen by an adviser who was very patient and gentle with my son (he takes a long time to process information and formulate responses), but she seemed confused with respect to why my son's PIP had stopped (I had to tell her) and why he had not been advised to apply for UC before (I also had to tell her that). After taking details and explaining that my son will need another appointment next week to meet his Job Coach, we were told that my son will not receive UC until December. He was advised that he could take an advance payment and arrange to pay the money back incrementally once his UC payments start.

So, my son left with no income, a debt of £100 to pay back once his benefits start and an appointment to meet his Job Coach next week. He also needs to send in a fit note on a regular basis.

I just felt it is all a bit wrong. My son is in residential care and has to be prompted to comb his hair and wash himself. There will be a time (I am sure) when he will be ready to work, but not now, He does not need that pressure. I am just glad he has a roof over his head and food to eat, because he has just experienced the first almighty mess up with benefits and his second debt to the government (the first being an over-payment of PIP whilst he has been in care).

Well, roll on next week,
Thanks for the report , Janet.

As to whether your son's route onto UC is through a Job Coach , I will leave the answer to that issue with others who will have had similar experiences. Perhaps a separate thread on that issue under the CARER & DISABILITY BENEFITS section ???

An all too common factor already emerging ... taking on debt to bridge the first UC payment ... many reports from the House as featured earlier. Even then , will the first UC benefit reflect the previous level of benefits ?

As mentioned a short time ago on this thread , reports coming in of this not being the case.

More will follow ... from Janet ... and many others in the near future.

A similar type thread to the Care Act one ... nothing but problems to report , no mention anywhere of anything positive.

Slightly misleading as anything positive is hardly news but ... the writing is well and truly on the wall ?
Hi Janet
I think because your son is in full residential care that irrespective how much money he gets, that he will only keep the 'personal pocket money ' bit and any mobility benefit. So, in a way it is not worth worrying too much as whatever he gets given in one hand will be taken away again to go towards his care costs. Just don't let him spend anything over the £24 a week until you are sure
Yes, there will be muddles and over and underpayments and you will pull your hair out trying to get them sorted. Then it will all happen again. :roll:

I have relative in a similar situation and will try to find out more over the weekend.
Janet, it sounds to me like you have been given incorrect advice. I can only speak about the old system. My son has severe learning difficulties, when in residential care he was entitled to full DLA. The mobility component was always paid to him, but the care component wasn't paid when he was in the care home but it was payable whenever he came home to me and therefore I could also claim Carers Allowance for him. This was all sorted out for us by the CUK's own he.pline, who know more about disability benefits than the average DWP worker. Now my son is in supported living he gets ESA, not required to look for work. Hope thathelps, feel free to send me a PM if you like.

This is very interesting. My son was receiving PIP whilst he lived at home (until May this year). He continued to receive PIP until September and then it stopped because he had been in residential care for more that 28 days. Currently, he receives nothing until his UC is processed and then, we have been informed, the local authority who pay for his care will take all the benefit except for £24.90 to pay for his care.

The issue may arise because my son does not receive a mobility component.

I am urging his home to make him an appointment at the GP so he can get a Fit note, because this is required to show he is not capable of working. After so many weeks, I believe he will have a Work Capability Assessment. I think this is affecting me emotionally because my son is so obviously unwell. I have access to his online journal for UC and there are huge sections of 'sanctions'. It all seems a bit draconian
Janet ... Work Capacity Assessments ... Disability Rights guide ... quite detailed ... including how to challenge :

Close the pop up window ... bottom right , blue cross.

https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/work ... assessment

Will give the background , and future expectations , to each " Degree " under UC.
Hi Janet
I did check my relative in a similar situation and yes most of his benefits will be taken towards his care and he will only be left with the £24.90
My relatives area hasn't yet changed to UC so can't help on that process I'm afraid, and I will follow your progress with interest