Clarification of eligible service charges under UC

Glenys Harriman made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was refused by Department for Work and Pensions.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

In the Universal Credit quick guide ‘Universal Credit and your home’ (October 2013) - https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/sy... -
There is this sentence “It is the intention that all service charges that are covered by the current system will still be covered with Universal Credit “

However, comparing Schedule 1 of the UC regulations with Schedule 1 of the HB regulations, there appear to be some charges not covered by UC which are covered by HB.

A.Please could you clarify the following:
1. Maintenance and testing of a heating system. This does not appear to fall under Category B as this only relates to the supply of fuel. Does it instead come under Category B as a ‘basic service’?

2. Meals. Under Housing Benefit, the cost of meals are ineligible up to a specific amount and any charged above that is eligible (so long as reasonable) but under para 8 (6) these are completely ineligible for UC.

3. Furniture and fittings in an individual’s home. Please could you clarify ‘essential’ domestic appliances- we are wondering if this would cover for example a freezer, a dishwasher, a microwave? And please clarify ‘basic’ furniture – would this cover carpets, curtains, light fittings, bedding, ‘home starter packs etc?

4. Furniture in communal areas. This could be covered by Housing Benefit.

5. Window cleaning. Under Housing Benefit external window cleaning could be covered if the person living in the home was unable to do it for themselves- this could be by way of disability, age or inaccessibility; whereas under UC only windows above the ground floor are covered.

B. Another question is a general matter relating to service charges added after the scheme was set up (but nevertheless a condition of occupying the tenancy). These would be charges that should more properly fall to be charged in the rent, but the landlord is unable to do this because of limitations on increasing the rent.

Examples would be: provision of a heating system/ fitting of solar panels etc to help reduce utility bills; provision /conversion of a communal room for a carer in a scheme; cleaning of voids between lets; landlord contents insurance.

Could these be covered by Universal Credit, and if so ,under which provision?

C. The ‘Universal Credit service Charges Guidance for Landlords April 2013 – which no longer seems to be on gov.uk so might have been withdrawn - states that charges for depreciation of service charges are not covered by UC.
However there is no mention of this in the regs.

Could you clarify of this is still the case, and if so, on what basis a charge for say an item of eligible furniture should be calculated if not by depreciation?

Thank you for your help.

Yours faithfully,

Glenys Harriman

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DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear Glenys Harriman,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request. Please find enclosed our acknowledgment of its receipt.

If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

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Your right to complain under the Freedom of Information Act

If you are not happy with this response you may request an internal review by e-mailing [DWP request email] or by writing to DWP, Central FoI Team, Caxton House, Tothill Street, SW1H 9NA. Any review request should be submitted within two months of the date of this letter.

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Talbot Gina DWP FLDM MCT, Department for Work and Pensions

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Please see the attached reply to your Freedom of Information request

Yours sincerely

DWP Strategy FoI team

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Glenys Harriman

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'Clarification of eligible service charges under UC'.

I was told that FOI requests do not extend to interpretation of the regulations- it was not interpretation I wanted but clarification.
Also I was advised that I would find answers in the Service Charge Guide for landlords - whereas my query was requesting clarification on matters in this very guide which appear to contradict the regulations and where the guide adds matters that are not mentioned in the regs at all (eg the statement that depreciation costs cannot be covered.)

If you cannot answer my question please direct me to somewhere that will be able to clarify- going to the guidance notes just sends me back to where I started!!

Thank you for your help.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

Yours faithfully,

Glenys Harriman

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been accepted by the DWP FoI mailbox.
 
By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
information owner within the Department who will respond to you direct. 
 
If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally
expect a response within 20 working days.
 
Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.
 
For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.
 
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DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

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Thank you for your Freedom of Information review request; please see the attached acknowledgement.
If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the reference number above.
Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team
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Your right to complain under the Freedom of Information Act

If you are not happy with this response you may request an internal review by e-mailing [DWP request email] or by writing to DWP, Central FoI Team, Caxton House, Tothill Street, SW1H 9NA. Any review request should be submitted within two months of the date of this letter.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office for a decision. Generally the Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted our own complaints procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF www.ico.gov.uk

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Dear DWP Strategy Freedom of Information,

Your ref: VTR IR 268

Your most recent reply stated that I would receive a response by 1st July, but I have not received anything.
Please could you reply as soon as possible.

Thanks

Yours sincerely,

Glenys Harriman

DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

Dear Glenys Harriman,

My apologies for the delay in replying to your email, and for the lack of a reply so far from DWP. I hope to have reply for you shortly.

If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the reference number above.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Your right to complain under the Freedom of Information Act

If you are not happy with this response you may request an internal review by e-mailing [DWP request email] or by writing to DWP, Central FoI Team,
Caxton House, Tothill Street, SW1H 9NA. Any review request should be submitted within two months of the date of this letter. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office for a decision. Generally the Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted our own complaints procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF
www.ico.org.uk/Global/contact_us or telephone 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745

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DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Please see the attached response to your Freedom of Information request.

Many thanks,

DWP Central FoI Team
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Glenys Harriman left an annotation ()

It's a pity that clarification of regulations are not eligible for FOIs. Especially as in this case I was asking DWP to explain the apparent contradicitions between regs and guidance on UC service charge eligibility.