Should my son and his partner move over to UC now or wait?

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MV22
MV22 Community member Posts: 10 Listener
Hi. My son's partner is currently on PIP and ESA and claims for them both. Because they are on ESA they don't get any housing benefit which means they have to pay over £400 a month out of their benefit money to pay the rent, this is leaving them with very little money to live on and with the COL issues ATM it's about to get worse.

They spoke to a housing officer that told them NOT to voluntarily switch to UC as they will be left with no benefit for up to a month while it's switched over. They can't afford this of course and as much as I'm willing to help them, there's no way I could cover their whole benefits. She also said they would be worse off on UC than they are now, even if the rent is being paid. This of course concerns them. 

My question is, was the advice from the housing officer correct? Would you recommend they switch now so they can get the rent covered in UC or should they carry on (how they're going to manage I don't know, it's causing major anxiety for his partner who has mental issues and he himself suffers from severe OCD and anxiety), or should they switch now?

Thanks in advance.

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  • calcotti
    calcotti Community member Posts: 10,010 Championing
    edited September 2022
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    MV22 said:
    ..She also said they would be worse off on UC than they are now, even if the rent is being paid. This of course concerns them. 

    My question is, was the advice from the housing officer correct? 
    Did they give you calculation to back up their advice. Although not impossible it seems unlikely that you would be worse on UC given that you currently get no help with rent.
    MV22 said: They spoke to a housing officer that told them NOT to voluntarily switch to UC as they will be left with no benefit for up to a month while it's switched over. 
    The first UC payment will be one month and one week after you claim - but the ESA doesn't stop until two weeks after the UC claim is made. They can ask for a UC advance but this is a loan which has to be paid back by deduction from future payments.

    However it's not possible to give you a definite answer without doing full calculations.

    How much is the existing ESA? Do you know if any of it is contribution based? If so the contribution based ESA would continue anyway (but would be deducted from the UC).

    UC would include a standard allowance, LCWRA element (assuming she is currently in ESA Support Group), housing element to help with rent and if her PIP includes Daily Living your son could claim the carer element of UC for looking after her. If the rent is £400/month that would come to a maximum amount of £1,448.81/month. (I have assumed no children involved.)

    Does your son have any income of his own? If not one significant difference between ESA and UC is that as a partner on the ESA claim he is not getting NI credits towards his future State Pension whereas on a joint UC claim they would both get NI credits.
  • MV22
    MV22 Community member Posts: 10 Listener
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    Thanks for replying.

    The ESA is income based. She is in the support group, and he currently claims carers allowance for looking after her (which I think means he IS getting NI credits, correct me if I'm wrong?). Other than that, he has no income of his own, the claim is made in her name, and he is on that claim. When they move to UC would the claim be made as a couple anyway?

    Concerning the period of no income during the switch over, how much do they usually take from you to pay the loan back from future payments? Is it a lot or are they quite reasonable with it?

    Thanks again.

  • calcotti
    calcotti Community member Posts: 10,010 Championing
    edited September 2022
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    MV22 said:
    ..he currently claims carers allowance for looking after her (which I think means he IS getting NI credits, correct me if I'm wrong?). 
    That's correct, the CA means he gets NI credits.
    MV22 said:
    When they move to UC would the claim be made as a couple anyway?
    For UC they both have to claim and their two claims are linked so that only one payment is made based on their joint circumstances.
    MV22 said:..how much do they usually take from you to pay the loan back from future payments? 
    It depends on how much is taken as an advance. The maximum amount that can be taken is a full month of UC. It then has to be paid back over a maximum period of 24 months.

    If they claim UC he would still get paid Carer's Allowance as existing but the UC payments will be reduced take account of the CA (which is presumably what is happening with the existing ESA award).  So if the rent is £400 and UC entitlement is £1,448.81/month, as per my previous reply, the actual payment would be £1,146.78/month (deduction of £302.03 for CA).

    I can't see, contrary to what you say the housing officer said, how the UC entitlement would be less than the ESA. I would expect the existing ESA to be £312.30/fortnight. If that's correct that is equivalent to £676.65/month so UC is worth an extra £470/month. The interruption of switching over shouldn't put them off switching given how much better off they would appear to be afterwards.

    I would suggest they ask the housing officer to support their statement that they are worse off on UC by providing their calculations - it sounds like very poor advice to me (but i may have missed something).
  • MV22
    MV22 Community member Posts: 10 Listener
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    Thanks.

    They live in the Northwest. Do you know of anywhere they contact for help with all this? As mentioned, they both suffer from anxiety and are finding dealing with this daunting, to say the least. This is mainly why I'm the one posting here. They've contacted the CA and while they got some help, every time they call back for further help, they get someone new and have to start from scratch again. They could do with a case worker, but I don't know if someone like this exists.


  • calcotti
    calcotti Community member Posts: 10,010 Championing
    edited September 2022
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    MV22 said:
    They live in the Northwest. Do you know of anywhere they contact for help with all this? ..They've contacted the CA and while they got some help, every time they call back for further help, they get someone new and have to start from scratch again. 
    They can search on https://advicelocal.uk

    With CA the advisers are all volunteers and unfortunately getting a different person each time is not unusual - but the advisers should be able to review all the previous notes and your son and partner shouldn't have to go everything again.

    I would try probing the housing officer.