Consultation on Universal Credit (Claims and Payments) (Scotland) Regulations 2017
I am pleased to introduce this consultation on the Universal Credit (Claims and Payments) (Scotland) Regulations following the devolution of powers to make such regulations by the Scotland Act 2016.
The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that the new powers provided for in the Act are used to give Scottish applicants more choice and control over their Universal Credit payments. Universal Credit is still reserved to the UK Government but our priority will be to use the flexibilities available to us to make sure that its delivery will be better suited to meet the needs of the people of Scotland.
Managed payments of rent to landlords, and more frequent payments of Universal Credit have been two issues that stakeholders have repeatedly raised with us and we want to let people claiming Universal Credit have the option to choose these if they so wish. Work with DWP to deliver the flexibilities is progressing. We need to also progress the legislation that will be required. It's important that we gather your views on the draft regulations and whether they are fit for purpose. You can help us do this by responding to this consultation.
As many of you may recall, the recent social security consultation included a question on extending managed payment of rent to private sector tenants. Early indications from the consultation responses, and previous feedback from relevant organisations, indicate that offering the same choice to private sector tenants is the favoured approach and also the fairest one. These regulations have therefore been drafted to cover both the private and social rented sectors.
Getting the views of anyone with an interest in Universal Credit is vital to us, so I'm encouraging as many people as possible to contribute. I look forward to considering your responses.
MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SECURITY
Universal Credit ( UC) is a single payment for working age people introduced by the UK Government. UC aims to improve work incentives, simplify the benefit system and reduce fraud and error. UC remains reserved to the UK Government, however the Scottish Government has some administrative powers to change payment arrangements for UC.
The main differences between UC and other current welfare benefits are: UC is available to people who are in work and on a low income, as well as to those who are out of work; most people will apply online and manage their claim through an online account; claimants will usually receive just one monthly payment per household, paid into a bank account; and support with housing costs (rent) will go directly to the claimant in most cases as part of their monthly payment.
The following link provides more information on Universal
The Scottish Flexibilities
The flexibilities are being progressed to make it easier for people to manage their UC payments.
The draft regulations attached at the end of this paper cover two flexibilities:
- Having the option of being paid UC twice a month rather than monthly; and
- Having the option of any UC housing element being paid direct to landlords.
These changes are intended to provide more choice and control over UC payments.
Neither option will affect the overall amount of UC that is payable and both will be delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions ( DWP) as part of that Department's overall responsibility for delivering UC.
These changes will also not replace the DWP system for Alternative Payment Arrangements which will continue to operate for those who fall under the current criteria of requiring this ( e.g. as a result of a vulnerability or rent arrears).
Option of more frequent payments
UC will be assessed on a monthly basis but in Scotland applicants will have the option of receiving payments twice monthly in order to help with their household budgeting.
Managed Payment of Housing Costs Element to landlords
The Scottish Government is intending to introduce this flexibility to safeguard tenancies and prevent build-up of rent arrears. The intention is that tenants will have the option of having their housing element being paid directly to the landlord, broadly replicating the situation now with housing benefit.
Analysis of the responses to the social security consultation exercise held during 2016 and discussions with individuals and relevant organisations will shape what other UC flexibilities the Scottish Government may decide to progress at a later date.
ABOUT THIS CONSULTATION
The purpose of this consultation is to ask if the Universal Credit (Claims and Payments) (Scotland) Regulations 2016 are fit for purpose, and whether there are any unintended consequences, in relation to the flexibilities that the Scottish Government is proposing to introduce.
1) Do the draft regulations meet the policy intent of offering a choice to applicants on having their UC payments made twice monthly?
Yes / No
2) Do the draft regulations meet the policy intent of offering a choice to UC applicants on managed payments of rent direct to landlords?
Yes / No
RESPONDING TO THIS CONSULTATION PAPER
Please respond to this consultation using the Scottish Government's consultation platform, Citizen Space. You view and respond to this consultation online at https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/low-income-benefits/universal-credit-claims-and-payments. You can save and return to your responses while the consultation is still open. Please ensure that consultation responses are submitted before the closing date of 13th March 2017.
Alternatively you can e-mail your response and the completed Respondent Information Form, which is also available separately on the Scottish Government website (see "Handling your Response" below) to: email@example.com
If you are unable to respond online, please complete the Respondent Information Form (see "Handling your Response" below) and send it to:Universal Credit Flexibilities Consultation
Area 2H North
This consultation, and all other Scottish Government
consultation exercises, can be viewed online on the consultation
web pages of the Scottish Government website at:
Handling your response
If you respond using Citizen Space ( http://consult.scotland.gov.uk/), you will be directed to the Respondent Information Form. Please indicate how you wish your response to be handled and, in particular, whether you are happy for your response to published.
If you are unable to respond via Citizen Space, please complete and return the Respondent Information Form attached included in this document. If you ask for your response not to be published, we will regard it as confidential, and we will treat it accordingly.
All respondents should be aware that the Scottish Government is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and would therefore have to consider any request made to it under the Act for information relating to responses made to this consultation exercise.
Next steps in the process
Where respondents have given permission for their response to be made public, and after we have checked that they contain no potentially defamatory material, responses will be made available to the public at http://consult.scotland.gov.uk. If you use Citizen Space to respond, you will receive a copy of your response via email.
Following the closing date, all responses will be analysed and considered along with any other available evidence to help us. Responses will be published where we have been given permission to do so.
Comments and complaints
If you have any comments about how this consultation exercise has been conducted, please send them to:Martyn Lindsay
Area 2F South
Scottish Government consultation process
Consultation is an essential part of the policy-making process. It gives us the opportunity to consider your opinion and expertise on a proposed area of work.
You can find all our consultations online: http://consult.scotland.gov.uk. Each consultation details the issues under consideration, as well as a way for you to give us your views, either online, by email or by post.
Consultations may involve seeking views in a number of different ways, such as public meetings, focus groups, or other online methods such as Dialogue ( https://www.ideas.gov.scot.)
Responses will be analysed and used as part of the decision making process, along with a range of other available information and evidence. We will publish a report of this analysis for every consultation. Depending on the nature of the consultation exercise the responses received may:
- indicate the need for policy development or review
- inform the development of a particular policy
- help decisions to be made between alternative policy proposals
- be used to finalise legislation before it is implemented
While details of particular circumstances described in a response to a consultation exercise may usefully inform the policy process, consultation exercises cannot address individual concerns and comments, which should be directed to the relevant public body.