February 2023 - DWP implements UC change to improve explicit consent
CPAG reported on the problems with explicit consent in universal credit in our 2019 Computer says no: Challenging decisions report. From 1st February 2023, the DWP introduced an improvement to the UC build to make it easier for work coaches to record and check explicit consent granted by the claimant. The DWP continues work in this area and intends to improve the process for claimant's to grant consent.
July 2022 - Debt Management and Grieving Families EWS briefing
A short briefing for parliamentarians about the DWP's practice of recovering overpaid benefits from the claimant's bereaved survivors.
July 2022 - David Linden MP on No-fault Benefit Debts
David Linden MP secured a House of Commons debate on No-fault Benefit Debts after receiving our briefing on the topic and relied on EWS evidence to illustrate the unfairness of recovering debts from claimants who had done nothing wrong.
July 2022 - Carers UK partnership
We shared evidence with Carers UK regarding DWP failures and delays in paying the carers element in universal credit.
July 2022 - Public Accounts Committee inquiry
CPAG responded to the Public Accounts Committee inquiry into the Department for Work and Pensions Accounts 2021-22 to highlight how the actions of the DWP risk review team leave legitimate claimants without their benefits for months on end.
July 2022 - Marie Curie partnership
We shared evidence with Marie Curie demonstrating the benefit issues encountered by people diagnosed with terminal illnesses.
July 2022 - Equality and Human Rights Commission
Early Warning System cases informed CPAG's submission to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which is taking action to improve the treatment of disabled benefit claimants.
July 2022 - Teenage Angst webinar
EWS evidence informed the topic and content of CPAG's webinar setting out the complicated benefit entitlement rules for 16-19 year olds.
June 2022 - No-Fault Benefit Debts EWS briefing
A short briefing for parliamentarians demonstrates the unfairness of rules which penalise claimants who have been overpaid universal credit through no fault of their own.
June 2022 - Mind partnership
We shared evidence with Mind to inform their submission to the Department of Health and Social Care's consultation "Mental health and wellbeing plan: discussion paper and call for evidence".
June 2022 - Reverification policy briefing
CPAG released our policy briefing entitled Demands to repay: the impact and legality of the DWP's recertification of UC claims, informed by EWS cases.
May 2022 - PIP: Indefinite Awards EWS briefing
A short briefing for parliamentarians focuses on the DWP's refusal to make indefinite awards of personal independence payment, even though the law permits them to do so, and a fixed award isn't always appropriate.
April 2022 - Universal credit for carers EWS briefing
The EWS project starts releasing monthly 2-page briefings for parliamentarians based on the latest trends in our evidence. The Universal credit for carers briefing highlights problems getting the carer element included in a UC award and the difficulties flowing from a backdated lump sum of carers allowance and subsequent UC overpayment decision.
March 2022 - PIP: feedback on decision letters
The EWS team gave the DWP feedback and recommendations for improving their PIP decision letters. Recommendations included amendments to the explanation of when a mandatory reconsideration request can be raised, and the addition of a leaflet or insert setting out the PIP test.
February 2022 - Mental Health policy briefing
January 2022 - Welfare Rights Advisers Cymru
We spoke at the WRAC conference, appealing for submissions to the Early Warning System from advisers working in local authorities, social landlords, advice charities, the wider third sector and other organisations across Wales.
December 2021 - DIsabled young learners locked out of Universal Credit policy briefing
In the wake of new regulations amending universal credit eligibility for students, CPAG's policy team issued this briefing showing how young disabled people will be disadvantaged by the changes, according to EWS evidence.
December 2021 - DWP Serious Case Panel on appointeeships
We drew on EWS evidence to deliver a briefing to the DWP Serious Case Panel about the problems encountered by appointees and their wards, ahead of their December meeting centred on this theme.
November 2021 - Universal Credit Assessment Periods Policy briefing
In this briefing informed by EWS cases, CPAG's policy team sets out the issues that arise when wage payment cycles clash with universal credit assessment periods, and what the DWP should do about it.
October 2021 - Shaping future support: the health and disability green paper consultation
CPAG used EWS cases to respond to the DWP's consultation on their health and disability green paper.
September 2021 – DWP meeting
The EWS team met with the DWP officials from Engagement and Partnerships and External Affairs teams.
September 2021 – Child Poverty inquiry
EWS cases informed our response to the Work & Pensions Committee Child Poverty: No Recourse to Public Funds inquiry, in which the committee investigated the numbers of children in families with NRPF, the proportion of those children who live in poverty and what financial assistance is available to them.
September 2021 – Universal Credit and Access to Justice: Applying the Law Automatically
Following on from CPAG's 2019 Computer says "No!" reports, this report sets out how a digital system results in decisions that are not compliant with the law and in entitlement calculations that are wrong by default. It covers the following topics:
No claim without a National Insurance number
Missing carer element
Non-dependant contribution exemptions "falling off"
Untidy tenancies (including progress made by DWP)
July 2021 - Universal Credit: What needs to change to make it fit for children and families policy briefing
This briefing and report review the changes made to universal credit when the pandemic hit, changes which are steadily being reversed despite the positive impact.
Improving adequacy - increasing rates
Filling the gaps - more entitlement for the more needy
Supporting people into work and in work - review treatment of earnings, childcare costs and conditionality
Starting a claim - end the 5-week wait and provide decent transitional protection
Managing a claim - improve transparency and fairness of the system
June 2021 - Falling Through the Net briefing 4
The final instalment in a series of regular briefings highlights persistent support gaps for children and families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Falling Through the Net briefing four focussed on:
European nationals locked out of the benefit system
DWP errors saddling families with onerous repayments
Families in financial difficulty following DWP misadvice
June 2021 - Understanding the jump in families affected by the benefit cap policy briefing
CPAG's policy team analysed the latest DWP figures showing an increase in the number of families affected by the benefit cap. EWS cases provided examples illustrating the effects of the cap. Read the briefing on the Understanding the jump in families affected by the benefit cap page of the CPAG website.
April 2021 - Falling Through the Net briefing 3
The third instalment in a series of regular briefings highlights persistent support gaps for children and families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Falling Through the Net briefing 3 focussed on:
Disability assessment delays
Working families in hardship due to the treatment of earnings in universal credit
Universal credit support inaccessible to those awaiting national insurance numbers
February 2021 - Falling Through the Net briefing 2
The second instalment in a series of regular briefings highlights persistent support gaps for children and families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Falling Through the Net briefing 2 focussed on:
Claimants in paid work experiencing financial hardship as a result of the treatment of earnings in universal credit
Ill and disabled claimants continue to lose out on support as a result of assessment delays
Legacy benefit claimants missing out on £20 uplift
February 2021 - Our 2021 Budget Submission
CPAG set out our recommendations ahead of the 2021 budget. We included EWS cases to illustrate the additional hardship suffered due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Read our submission on the 2021 Budget Submission page on the CPAG website.
December 2020 - Falling Through the Net briefing 1
The first instalment in a series of regular briefings highlights persistent gaps in support for children and families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Falling Through the Net briefing 1 focussed on:
Migrants locked out of the benefits system, mainly due to problems with the habitual residence test
Ill and disabled claimants losing out on entitlement, due to problems extending Tribunal-made Personal Independence Payment awards and delays completing Work Capability Assessments
The benefit cap affects more families, and the inadequacy of the grace period as protection
November 2020 - DWP Serious Case Panel on universal credit fraud
We drew on EWS evidence to deliver a briefing to the DWP Serious Case Panel about the impact on benefit claimants of universal credit fraud by third parties ahead of their November meeting centred on this theme.
November 2020 - Housing Rights legal challenge
EWS evidence fed into the judicial review challenge recently issued by Housing Rights against the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland, challenging the lack of universal credit housing costs element for people without tenancy agreements who are liable for "use and occupation" charges.
November 2020 - Rethink conditionality campaign
We provided example cases to Rethink to support their campaign to improve conditionality and sanctions for people living with mental illness. Our evidence illustrated that people fear being sanctioned and are often unaware of their rights about amending conditionality requirements or challenging sanction decisions.
November 2020 - Shelter partnership
We shared evidence with Shelter regarding the impact of the benefit cap in the pandemic.
October 2020 - Mind the Gaps briefing 14
The final instalment in a series of regular briefings highlighting gaps in support for children and families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mind the Gaps briefing 14 reviewed the top issues raised in previous briefings in the series, focussing on:
- People who need financial support being locked out of the social security system
- Common problems encountered by UC claimants
- Childcare costs
- Debt and deductions
- Fraud investigations
- Sanctions and conditionality
- Moving to UC and becoming worse off
- The benefit cap
- Issues affecting ill and disabled claimants
October 2020 - USDAW partnership
We drew on the evidence in the Early Warning System to provide the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers with an overview of the issues currently affecting workers and their in-work progression. We told them about the following issues:
- UC assessment periods clashing with payment cycles
- Benefit cap
- Employer errors affecting UC awards
- Overpayments, debts and deductions causing hardship
- Help with childcare costs inaccessible for people unable to pay upfront
If your organisation could benefit from our Early Warning System evidence, please email us at [email protected].
September 2020 - Fairness in government debt management consultation
CPAG submitted evidence to the Cabinet Office's call for evidence regarding "Fairness in government debt management". Our evidence was drawn from the cases submitted to the Early Warning System and focussed on debt deductions in Universal Credit.
September 2020 - Mind the Gaps briefing 13
The penultimate instalment in a series of regular briefings highlighting gaps in support that exist for children and families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mind the Gaps briefing 13 covered:
- migrants struggling to access financial support;
- the effect of delays in work capability assessments for ill and disabled claimants;
- survivors of domestic violence experiencing difficulties accessing support;
- people who have lost their jobs being denied access to the benefit system; and
- people required to self-isolate being left without financial support
August 2020 - Mind the Gaps briefings 11 & 12
Two instalments in a series of regular briefings highlighting gaps in support that exist for children and families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mind the Gaps briefing 12 focussed on low-income workers who followed government advice when COVID-19 hit, and became worse off.
Mind the Gaps briefing 11 revisited the benefit cap in the week that the DWP's latest benefit cap statistics were released, focussing on:
- Those who miss out on the increases to universal credit and local housing allowance because of the cap
- Families who were previously on benefits but are now not deemed to be working enough to escape the cap
- Families capped when claiming benefits for the first time
July 2020 - Mind the Gaps briefings 9 & 10
The next two instalments in a series of regular briefings highlighting gaps in support that exist for children and families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mind the Gaps briefing 10 covered:
- EU nationals facing right to reside issues
- Problems retaining 'worker' status
- Women who experience domestic violence being denied access to benefits
- Problems with DWP administration and appeal processes causing further delays
Mind the Gaps briefing 9 covered:
- Debt recovery in universal credit
- Conditionality and sanctions
July 2020 - Benefits in a time of Coronavirus webinar
A summary of the most common issues that had been reported to the Early Warning System in the course of the pandemic so far was presented at CPAG's webinar in July. You can access resources from the webinar on the Webinar: Benefits in a time of Coronavirus page.
June 2020 - Mind the Gaps briefings 7 & 8
Fortnightly instalments in a series of regular briefings highlighting gaps in support that exist for children and families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mind the Gaps briefing 8 covered:
- Parents with no childcare being told to take unpaid leave
- Students excluded from claiming benefits
- More families being affected by the benefit cap
- Inadequate support for people who are unable to work due to illness or disability
Mind the Gaps briefing 7 covered:
- Ill and disabled claimants losing out due to delays in work capability assessments
- Claimants left without any income while the DWP investigates cases of fraud
May 2020 - APPG on UC
CPAG gave evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on universal credit at the Coronavirus meeting, which you can read about on the Coronavirus meeting page of the APPG on universal credit webpage.
May 2020 - Mind the Gaps briefings 3, 4, 5 & 6
Weekly instalments in a series of regular briefings highlighting gaps in support that exist for children and families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mind the Gaps briefing 6 covered:
- Migrants left without financial support
- People moving to UC in error and being financially worse off as a result
Mind the Gaps briefing 5 covered the benefit cap, and in particular:
- Those who miss out on the increases to universal credit and local housing allowance because of the cap
- Families who were previously on benefits but are now not deemed to be working enough
- Families claiming benefits for the first time
Mind the Gaps briefing 4 covered:
- People accruing housing costs when they cannot move
- Claimants in receipt of a personal independence payment (PIP) being refused an extension
- Claimants in receipt of severe disability premium transitioning on to universal credit in error
- Claimants of legacy benefits considering moving to UC because of the temporary increase in amounts
Mind the Gaps briefing 3 covered:
- Problems with the job retention scheme and the self-employed income support scheme
- Some workers being refused furlough
- Confusion regarding the self-employed income support scheme and how it interacts with the benefit system
- Some workers not eligible for income replacement schemes or UC
April 2020 - Mind the Gaps briefing 2
The second in a series of regular briefings highlighting gaps in support that exist for children and families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mind the Gaps briefing 2 covered:
- Families not receiving the recent uplifts in benefits due to the benefit cap
- Confusion regarding entitlement to benefits
- Gaps in financial protection for some claimants who are bereaved
April 2020 - Universal Credit: the wait for a first payment inquiry
EWS cases informed our response to the Work & Pensions Committee Universal Credit: the wait for a first payment inquiry, in which the committee investigated options for shortening or eliminating the wait, and the feasibility and affordability of those options.
April 2020 - DWP's response to the coronavirus outbreak inquiry
CPAG submitted both a written response and oral evidence to the Work & Pensions Committee inquiry regarding the DWP's response to the coronavirus outbreak. Our response detailed the problems that people had claiming universal credit including confusion about entitlement, difficulties getting through the verification process and existing design faults such as the strict monthly assessment period making it impossible to budget effectively.
April 2020 – Computer says "no" update
Since our first Computer says "no" report on information provision published in April 2019, changes have made to the universal credit statement which coincide with some of the recommendations made in that report. Claimants can now see more information about how their housing costs element was calculated. It is now easier to see when a housing costs element has been reduced by the bedroom tax, local housing allowance or housing costs contribution (non-dependant deduction), or only a portion of their rent has been taken into account (e.g. in a joint tenancy). Claimants can also see an explanation of the work allowance if it is applied to their earned income. The remainder of our recommendations have not yet been actioned, including:
- Confirmation of circumstances used in calculation or list of elements that have not been included (so claimants can easily identify a missing element)
- Explanation of the two child limit
- Weekly as well as monthly rent figures (so claimants can easily check the correct amount was used)
- Breakdown of earnings received (so claimants can easily check correct amounts used, particularly when they've been paid more than once in an assessment period)
- Benefit cap explanation for claimants who are not currently affected (so, for example, working claimants are aware they may be capped if their earnings reduce or stop)
March 2020 - Mind the Gaps briefing 1
The first in a series of regular briefings highlighting some of the gaps in support that exist for children and families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Evidence of these gaps is drawn from our Early Warning System (EWS) which collects case studies from frontline practitioners working directly with families on the problems they are seeing with the social security system. Find all 13 briefings on the Policy post listings page of our website.
Mind the Gaps briefing 1 covered:
- Groups excluded from claiming universal credit (UC)
- Support for making or managing a benefit claim
- Families struggling with additional costs of children
February 2020 – Human Rights Watch
The EWS team presented an explanation of universal credit payment issues, together with illustrative cases, to Human Rights Watch. We detailed cases of families worse off on universal credit, awards fluctuating due to inflexible monthly assessment periods, incorrect payments due to real time information discrepancies, premature closure of housing benefit claims and barriers to accessing council tax support.
February 2020 – National Audit Office
We provided an overview to the National Audit Office of the problems encountered by people starting a universal credit claim. The summary included anonymised EWS cases to illustrate the effects of a delay in claiming, limited backdating provisions, difficulties complying with a multi-stage claim process, hardship caused by claim closures and inadequate payments once claim up and running.
July 2019 – Computer Says "No": Challenging decisions
CPAG released the second report in their Computer says "No" series about the dangers of the automated universal credit system. This report concerns the problems claimants face when attempting to challenge decisions they believe to be wrong, and how these barriers prevent the exercise of appeal rights and frustrate access to justice.
June 2019 – DWP meeting
The EWS team met with the DWP's Director of External Affairs, Strategic Design and Planning in the Universal Credit Programme to follow up on commonly reported issues and ways the DWP may improve the digital system. We followed up on topics discussed in February 2019 and also brought the following to their attention:
- Points to be raised in our forthcoming Computer says "no": Challenging decisions report
- Habitual Residence Test decisions leaving families destitute
- Inappropriate signposting to universal credit
- Severe Disability Premium gateway working inconsistently
- Lack of bereavement protection for universal credit claimants
- Lack of publicity about the changes affecting claimants reaching pension age
- Persistent problems with Housing Costs element when a joint tenant has left the family home
April 2019 – Computer Says "No": Information provision
March 2019 – Media request
We interrogated our EWS database to respond to The Guardian's query about universal credit regarding:
- UC claimants who were wrongly advised to go onto the benefit, were worse off as a result and should now be compensated (as per recent government announcement)
- UC claimants who were refused the benefit on right to reside grounds even though they have a satisfactory right to reside
March 2019 – UC snapshot
CPAG analysed survey results provided by the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers on universal credit claims, adding a further dimension to EWS cases.
February 2019 – EWS update
A comprehensive report detailing the trends we have identified in EWS cases over the preceding six months.
February 2019 – DWP meeting
The EWS team met with the DWP's Director of External Affairs, Strategic Design and Planning in the Universal Credit Programme to discuss ways that EWS database could help the DWP improve the universal credit system. We told them about cases concerning:
- Real Time Information glitches
- Accessing information about closed UC claims online
- Inadequate advice on claiming UC given to claimants appealing ESA decisions
- Missing carer elements for UC claimants following bereavement
- Routes for submitting mandatory reconsideration requests
- Safeguarding vulnerable claimants at an early stage
February 2019 – Natural Migration inquiry
EWS cases informed our response to the Work & Pensions Committee Natural Migration inquiry, in which the committee investigated the impacts on clients of transferring onto universal credit following a change in circumstances and before managed migration, and transitional protection, comes into effect. CPAG responded both in a written submission and in oral evidence.
January 2019 – National Children's Bureau partnership
We provided NCB with an overview of issues faced by people claiming universal credit following bereavement. In summary, our cases showed claimants were worse off as a result of:
- lack of bereavement protection in UC
- failure to interpret regulations about carers correctly
- loss of disability premiums on transferring to UC
They will incorporate the information in their response to the Work and Pensions inquiry on support for the bereaved.
January 2019 – Welfare Safety Net inquiry
Our written response to the Work & Pensions Committee Welfare Safety Net inquiry (launched when the UN special rapporteur visited to investigate extreme poverty in the UK) was based on EWS cases, and what they had been telling us about the effects of changes to the social security system on poor families.
January 2019 – UC escalation routes
Brief report for Kate Osamor, MP outlining the routes and obstacles claimants face in getting universal credit issues resolved. EWS cases were used to illustrate the effects of problems on real claimants.
January 2019 – NAWRA partnership
CPAG provided over 30 anonymised EWS cases to NAWRA illustrating the effects of universal credit decisions on EEA nationals. See NAWRA's response to the Work and Pensions Committee Welfare Safety Net inquiry.
November 2018 – Carers UK partnership
We provided Carers UK with a sample of the cases we had seen concerning recovery of carer's allowance overpayments. This fed into Carers UK response to Work and Pensions Committee Carers Allowance overpayments inquiry.
November 2018 – Benefit Cap inquiry
July 2018 - Top 8 issues in UC
We published an analysis of the top 8 universal credit issues we're seeing through the early warning system.
June 2018 - National Audit Office
We cited case studies from the early warning system in formal submissions to the National Audit Office and in meetings with NAO officers
October 2017 - APPG on UC
CPAG was asked by Ruth George MP to act as secretariat to the new All Party Parliamentary Group on Universal Credit. At the group's inaugural meeting in Westminster in October 2017 we raised the problems which face clients who lose entitlement to ESA and are forced to claim UC.