Did You Know?

Our new “Did you know?” area is to give you tips and useful information. Each month we will cover new topics.

February 2019

Changes to Universal Credit

There have been some positive changes to claiming Universal Credit which affects disabled people. 
Claiming Universal credit when entitled to Severe Disability Premium
Any  single claimant or joint couple claimants who, is entitled to – or has been within the last month an award of income support, income-related employment and support allowance, income-based jobseeker’s allowance or housing benefit that includes a severe disability premium cannot claim Universal Credit. These claimants will instead be able to continue to claim the above existing benefits’ and tax credits.
What is the severe disability premium?
The severe disability premium (SDP) can be awarded in addition payment on your benefit. To qualify you must receive one of these ‘qualifying benefits’.

  • attendance allowance
  • disability living allowance care component at the middle or highest rate
  • personal independence payment daily living component
  • armed forces independence payment;
  • no one gets carer’s allowance for looking after you; and
  • you are living alone or is technically counted as living alone.

Housing cost for 18-21 year-old
There has been a U-turn which reinstated housing costs for 18 to 21-year-olds. This is a great move and is aimed to reduce youth homelessness.
Mixed aged couples
The government announced today that the change will be introduced from 15 May 2019.
Currently when the eldest claimant of a couple reaches state pension/pension Credit age they can choose a claim  for Pension Credit which has less restrictions and more generous. From 15th May 2019 this is changing to the youngest claimant. Although the pensioner partner will not be subject to work-based conditionality the younger partner will do the work-based conditionality. This will be tailored to meet their circumstances.
If you are already in receipt of Pension Credit at the point of change you will be unaffected while they remain entitled to either benefit.

Are you being asked to transfer to an E-Card?
For 2019/20 the council is looking for more efficiency and savings in social care services. The Council is proposing to change the administration of direct payments (an amount of money given to an individual by the council to buy the care they need). In some circumstances, switching to an E-card can be difficult or unworkable for those unable or not currently using online and digital media. We have provided some explanatory notes (See below) on the statutory legal power that allows councils to make this switch and where there are exceptions that allow individuals to keep their current payment arrangements. Please contact us if you feel you are not being given a choice other than to except the e-card.

January 2019

Information and Advice
70,000 ESA claimants to be repaid £1,000s
An investigation by the National Audit Office (NAO) has found that since 2011 the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has underpaid an estimated 70,000 people who transferred to employment and support allowance (ESA) from other benefits. The majority of those owed are thought to be due around £2,500 but some people will be owed significantly more and the DWP has committed to correcting its error and paying arrears by April 2019 – though arrears will only be paid dating back as far back as 21 October 2014.
Who is owed a backdated payment?
The error relates to people who may have been entitled to income-related ESA but were instead only awarded contribution-based ESA, and therefore may have missed out on premium payments.
A review of a sample number of cases suggests that 45,000 claimants entitled to the enhanced disability premium may be owed around £2,500 and around 20,000 claimants who are entitled to the severe disability premium may be owed around £11,500 each.
I think I’m affected – what should I do?
The good news is you don’t actually have to do anything. The DWP is identifying eligible claimants and will contact them with further information – if you are affected, you will be contacted by April 2019 at the very latest. After eligibility is established, payments will be made within 12 weeks.

Hot of the press changes to Universal Credit
The Secretary of State announce on the two-child limit which were due to introduced next month will now not apply to children born before April 2017. The Secretary of State is also looking at how to ensure more frequent universal credit payments are available to some people who need them. Many people prefer to have their income spread throughout the month, and many people on universal credit will be paid by their employer more than once a month. These flexible universal credit payments should be available to anyone who wants them. On the same theme of flexibility, Amber Rudd announced that private landlords will be able to request rent payments come directly to them.

It will be easier for families to manage their childcare costs. Details are yet to be confirmed, but the Secretary of State has said that not being able to pay childcare costs upfront should not be a barrier to work, and that support should be available for families in that situation through the Flexible Support Fund. More upfront help with the costs of childcare is urgently needed to allow people to start jobs without going into debt from childcare fees and this should be available as a matter of course. There will also be more flexibility about when people submit details of their childcare costs. Anything that reduces the complexity parents face in reclaiming childcare costs will be good news because far too many people are now ending up out of pocket if they accidentally submit their childcare costs at the wrong time and some have even been forced to leave their jobs.

A high Court case has highlighted one of the ways universal credit needs fixing which the Secretary of State did not address in her speech. The High Court found that the way the Department for Work and Pensions has been assessing income from employment through its work assessment periods is unlawful. Four working lone parents have lost several hundreds of pounds each year and were subject to large variations in their universal credit awards because of the dates on which their paydays and universal credit assessment periods happened to fall. It’s a great victory for these four women, and will have a huge impact on many others affected by this arbitrary system.

Blue Badge renewal can now be done online
You can now apply for a Blue Badge, or renew your old one, within half an hour thanks to a new online service launched by the Department for Transport.
In the past, on average, it took 17 days to apply for and get your Blue Badge – or 28 days if you needed a medical assessment.
By claiming online an application should only take 13 minutes – or up to half an hour if you need to give more information.

Who can get a blue badge?
You qualify automatically for a Blue Badge if you are aged two or over and one of the following applies:
• You are registered blind.
• You get the higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA).
• You live in Scotland and previously got an indefinite or lifetime award of the higher rate mobility component of DLA, which has been terminated following a personal independence payment (PIP) re-assessment.
• You live in England or Northern Ireland and have been awarded 8 points or more in the ‘moving around’ activity of PIP.
• You get war pensioners’ mobility supplement.
• You have received a lump sum payment from the Armed Forces Compensation scheme (within tariff levels 1-8) and have been certified as having a permanent and substantial disability that causes inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking.
What if I do not automatically qualify?
You may also qualify for a Blue Badge by being assessed by your local authority if you are aged two or over and one of the following applies:
• You have a permanent and substantial disability which causes inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking.
• You drive regularly, have a severe disability in both arms and are unable to operate, or have considerable difficulty operating, all or some types of parking meter.
There are also special rules if you have a child under the age of three. You can get a Blue Badge if your child has a specific medical condition that means they:
• must always be accompanied by *bulky medical equipment that cannot be carried around with the child without great difficulty; and/or
• need to be kept near a vehicle at all times so that they can, if necessary, be treated in the vehicle or quickly driven to a place where they can be treated.
*Bulky medical equipment can include ventilators, suction machines, feed pumps, parenteral equipment, syringe drivers, oxygen administration equipment, continual oxygen saturation monitoring equipment and casts and associated medical equipment for the correction of hip dysplasia
Who can use the Blue Badge?
If you are a Blue Badge holder, it is for your use and benefit only.It must only be displayed if you are travelling in the vehicle as a driver or passenger and are personally making use of a parking concession.
Don’t allow other people to use the badge to do something on your behalf, such as shopping or collecting something for you, unless you are travelling with them or allow people without a disability to take advantage of the benefits from your badge while you sit in the car.
You must never give the badge to friends or family to allow them to park for free, even if they are visiting you.
It is a criminal offence for you or anyone else to misuse a badge. You must never copy the badge, try to alter the details or continue to display the badge when you no longer need it.
Misusing a badge could lead to prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000
Where can I use the Blue Badge?
The Blue Badge scheme operates all over the United Kingdom (UK) but there are local differences in the scheme’s operation in certain London boroughs and other large towns or cities in the UK. For more information, see the Department for Infrastructure website at www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/articles/permit-access-pedestrian-zone-white-badge

Using your Blue Badge in Europe
The Blue Badge is recognised in all European countries and allows you to make use of the same concessions that the country you are in allows its own citizens with a disability. The parking concessions vary from country to county. The AA has produced a leaflet outlining the allowances for the different EU countries and is available at www.theaa.com/public_affairs/reports/blue_badge_abroad.pdf

Exemption from congestion charging in London, Car Parking and tolls
If you hold a valid Blue Badge, you can apply for exemption from the congestion charge in London by paying a £10 administration fee.
You can register up to two vehicles that you would normally use to travel within the charging zone. This could be your own vehicle, or one you travel in.
For more information call 0343 222 2222 or visit https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/congestion-charge/discounts-and-exemptions
Free parking varies in car park for Blue Badge holder however you may park in disabled parking bays.
Blue Badges holders are not normally exempt from tolls road or bridges unless their vehicle is road tax exempt due to disability.

Carers may to able to go free of Charge to the Cinemas

A CEA card entitles a disabled cinema guest to receive a complimentary ticket for someone to go with them when they visit a participating cinema. Is it a national card scheme developed for UK cinemas by the UK Cinema Association (UKCA).
The Card is also one way for cinemas to make sure they look after their disabled guests. (If you require an adjustment to visit a cinema because of your disability, cinema staff should make them for you whether you have a CEA Card or not.)
How do I get a CEA card
You will need to provide evidence that the card holder receives one of the following:

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Attendance Allowance (AA)
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP)
  • Blind Persons Registration

You will need to send a copy of the awarding letter from DWP or a statement confirming receipt of the allowance forthe person requiring assistance (the card holder).
This should be dated within the last 12 months.
Alternatively, if you are a Registered Blind Person then please send a photocopy of certification for the person requiring assistance (the card holder).
Please note that ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) or the Blue Badge on its own are not accepted as proof of eligibility.
To apply, the person requiring assistance must be 8 years of age or older.
Is there a cost and how long does the card last?
The card costs £6 and lasts 1 year.
What local cinema can I use the CEA card.

Cinema Name Address Telephone
Odeon Lee Valley Picketts Lock Lane, Edmonton, Lee Valley, Greater London, N9 0AS 0871 22 44 007
Cineworld Enfield Southbury Road, Enfield, EN1 1YQ 0871 200 2000
VUE Wood Green Hollywood Green, 180 High Road, Wood Green, London, N22 6EJ
Cineworld Wood Green Shopping City, Wood Green, Wood Green, N22 6LU 0871 220 8000
Empire Walthamstow The Scene, 267 High Street, Walthamstow, E17 7FD

How you I apply
To apply, you will need:

You can apply online at www.ceacard.co.uk or via post