National News Roundup

Links to national reports, commentary and analysis relating to social welfare policy and the advice sector generally.


The impact of housing problems on mental health
20.04.2017
Shelter has released a new report revealing that millions of people in England have suffered a deterioration in their mental health in the last five years because of housing problems, and as a result, many have sought help from their GPs. The report is based on interviews with GPs and a survey of 3,500 adults, about the mental health impact of housing problems. 
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Universal Credit and Discretionary Housing Payments
07.04.2017
The DWP has received a number of enquiries recently over the use of Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) to support claimants with housing costs on Universal Credit. HB Bulletin G12/2016 has been re-issued updating the guidance and Q&A.The reason for the revision is the Department does not see any legal reason why a Discretionary Housing Payment cannot be paid to Universal Credit claimants who have Managed Payments to their Landlord in place. 
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Universal Credit: a briefing
07.04.2017
Joseph Rowntree Foundation have published a briefing which provides information and evidence on the latest developments as Universal Credit rolls out across the UK. It provides recommendations on how the system could be improved.
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Prisons and Courts Bill
07.04.2017
This month the Prisons and Courts Bill began its passage through the House of Commons. The Prison Reform Trust have been analysing what implications the bill will have for people in prison, the wider system, and what they believe is missing.
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Eligibility for Legal Aid and Universal Credit
07.04.2017
A consultation called ‘Legal aid financial eligibility and universal credit’ is now open and the deadline for responses is 11 May 2017. The proposals seek to amend the legal aid financial eligibility system to accommodate the expansion of universal credit. The goverment state that the intention behind the proposals is to limit any additional burden on the legal aid budget rather than cutting costs.
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UC reforms to force 200,000 children into poverty
LocalGov, 06.04.2017
New cuts limiting Universal Credit to the first two children in a family will affect at least 850,000 families, of whom about two thirds are working, according to the Child Poverty Action Group. Research by the group with the Institute for Public Policy Research shows the reforms will push another 200,000 children below the official poverty line. The biggest group affected will be working families with three children, who will miss out on up to £2,780 per year.
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DWP PIP Defeat
Benefits and Work, 29.03.2017
The DWP have argued that a claimant can only score points for being unsafe if harm is likely to occur on more than 50% of the occasions on which they attempt an activity. This is an almost impossibly harsh test, as is shown by the thousands of claimants with epilepsy who are having their payments removed entirely on being switched from DLA to PIP. On 9th March, however, a panel of Upper Tribunal judges rejected the DWP’s 50% rule.
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Voluntary Right to Buy for housing association tenants
House of Commons Library, 27.03.2017
This House of Commons Library briefing explains proposals to extend the Right to Buy to assured tenants of housing associations on a voluntary basis. No implementation date for full roll-out has been announced. A large regional pilot scheme is planned for 2017/18.
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Mental Capacity Act - scenarios for training
08.03.2017
Safeguarding adults leads from across NHS England - Midlands and East (East) have helped developed a Mental Capacity Act (MCA) Workbook and film clips which are now available on the SCIE website. 
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MoJ survey finds vulnerable ‘face multiple legal problems'
The Law Society Gazette, 06.03.2017
Vulnerable people - those living with a disability, as lone parents or on less than £15,000 a year - are more likely to experience multiple legal problems than others, according to a major government study slipped into the public domain a year late. The findings, published on Friday afternoon, point to a crisis in access to justice following legal aid reforms.
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Changes to the PIP eligibility criteria
06.03.2017
This Commons Library briefing looks at controversial proposals put forward by the Government to change the eligibility criteria for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) from 16 March 2017, to reverse the effect of two recent Upper Tribunal judgments.
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Budgeting Loan – Paper form now online
Department of Work & Pensions, 01.03.2017
Customers can now apply for Budgeting Loans on GOV.UK using the new online application service. Budgeting Loans are interest free loans that can help to pay for essential items like furniture, clothes, moving costs or hire purchase debts. Customers can apply for a loan if they have been receiving Income Support, income-based Jobseekers Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or Pension Credit for at least 6 months.
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Health and Social Care Integration
House of Commons Library, 24.02.2017
This House of Commons briefing paper analyses recent policy and debate on the integration of NHS-provided healthcare and local authority-provided social care. This has been a key policy priority for successive Governments, with the aim of improving patient care and saving money for the NHS and local authorities.
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MoJ to relax LASPO domestic violence regime
The Guardian, 23.02.2017
Time limits preventing vulnerable victims of domestic violence from obtaining legal aid for court hearings are to be scrapped, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) will announce. The widely criticised rules meant victims seeking legal representation in disputed family court hearings, where they could be forced to confront their abuser, had to demonstrate that they had been targeted within the past five years. Legal Aid Agency regulations also specified that a narrow range of official documents provide proof, such as medical reports, injunctions and social services records. Statements from organisations working with domestic abuse victims will in future also be accepted as evidence of risk, under the changes revealed on Thursday. Letters from solicitors and information from housing officers will also be sufficient.
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Success for Attendance Allowance Campaign
01.02.2017
Last year the Government proposed passing responsibility for Attendance Allowance to councils rather than the DWP. Age UK campaigned against this proposal which would have created a postcode lottery of support for older disabled people and put the future of the benefit under threat. On 19 January 2017 the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, announced that Attendance Allowance will not be transferred to councils. This is great news for the continued support of older people.
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Autumn Statement & Welfare Benefits
29.11.2016
The Autumn Statement made an number of announcements regarding welfare, most had been stated previously. The reduction of the Universal Credit taper rate from 65% to 63% was, however, a new announcement.  The Joseph Rowntree Foundations' analysis of the impact of the Statement was that "many families will gain by modest amounts of a few pounds a week from the reduction in the Universal Credit taper rate and the rise in the income tax personal allowance.  However these gains will be dwarfed by much bigger cuts to work allowances imposed by George Osborne in April this year."
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Fund for Local Authorities to increase refuge spaces
29.11.2016
Department for Communities and Local Government have launched a new fund for local authorities to increase refuge spaces and other accommodation for women fleeing domestic violence.
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Controlling Migration Fund Launched
29.11.2016
Department for Communities and Local Government has launched the Controlling Migration Fund: mitigating the impacts of immigration on local communities.  The Fund is available to bids from local authorities over the four years from 2016-17 to 2019-20.
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Lasa- Online welfare benefits casework support
03.11.2016
If you provide advice on welfare benefits, check out the online casework support available via Lasa’s rightsnet website www.rightsnet.org.uk Rightsnet is one of a range of services delivered by Lasa. The online adviser forums are a great way for advisers to keep up to date and share their experience and expertise for the benefit of their clients. And the best part is - they’re free!
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Transforming our justice system: consultation
28.10.2016
The Ministry of Justice is currently undertaking two consultations on proposed changes to the justice system, including the civil justice system, family proceedings and tribunals: Transforming Our Justice System: Assisted Digital Strategy, Online Conviction and Statutory Fixed Fines (closing date 10 November)Transforming Our Justice System: Panel Composition in Tribunals (closing date 24 November)
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Behavioural Science view on accessing benefit entitlement
27.10.2016
The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) was commissioned by the Joseph Roundtree Foundation (JRF) to examine the role of individual decisions in shaping people’s experiences of poverty in the UK and to identify the drivers of these decisions. Section 4.3 of the report looks at factors that influence decisions around accessing entitlement, other sections focus on decisions around credit and savings and work and entitlements.The report encourages policy makers to design policies to minimise the mental costs of engaging in government services and to have greater policy coordination when designing and evaluating interventions.  To access this report, please click here.
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Government review into Council Tax Support launched
10.12.2015
A review into how local Council Tax support schemes are working across the country has been launched and is now in consultation and calling for evidence.
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DWP Autumn Updates on Universal Credit and PIP rollouts
02.12.2015
The Department for Work and Pensions has provided some updates relating to the rollout of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Universal Credit (UC) and published some new guidance on these matters on their website.
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Immigration Bill 2015-2016 - Committee Stage Report
02.12.2015
The Immigration Bill is due to have Report and Third Reading in the Commons on 1 December. This briefing summarises the main changes made to the Bill in Public Bill Committee and some of the new clauses proposed for consideration at Report stage.
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Work and Pensions Committee - Ongoing Inquiries
18.11.2015
Details of ongoing inquiries by the Work and Pensions Committee into: Local Welfare Safety Net, Welfare to Work, Benefit Delivery
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Welfare Reform and Work Bill - Library Note
18.11.2015
Read the Library notes on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill in advance of its second reading in the House of Lords today (17/11/2015). 
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JRF - Report on Paying Care Workers the Living Wage
02.11.2015
Joseph Rowntree Foundation report on the cost and benefits of paying low-paid care workers the Living Wage. 
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ONS - Index of Private Housing Rent and Population Projection
02.11.2015
Private rental prices paid by tenants rose by 2.7% in the 12 months to September 2015. The UK population is projected to increase by 9.7 million over the next 25 years to 74.3 million in mid-2039.
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VCSE Review - Interim Report on Health and Well-Being
28.10.2015
Interim report published by the VCSE Review exploring the impact of provision of support by the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector on health, well-being and social care. 
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Inter-Departmental Ministerial Report on Modern Slavery
28.10.2015
This report provides an assessment of modern slavery in the UK and explains the UK's response to this over the past 12 months.
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AdviceNow - information on the law and your rights
28.10.2015
AdviceNow is an online resource providing information on the law and the individual's rights across a wide range of areas - such as benefits, housing and family matters - and includes a help section for people who are having to go to court or a tribunal without the help of a lawyer.
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Immigration detention in the UK: an overview
09.09.2015
Home Office officials have the power to detain asylum seekers, as well as unauthorised migrants who do not enter the asylum system, for administrative purposes.
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NCAN features in Low Commission follow up report
21.04.2015
As part of the second stage of the Low Commission's work, a further follow up report has been published in which NCAN features. The report is called ' Getting It Right In Social Welfare Law.'
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Further consultation on Universal Credit
07.01.2015
There is a further consultation on draft Regulations regarding Universal Credit data sharing between DWP and local support providers.
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National Updates Archive