Hundreds of landlords’ applications for Alternative Payment Arrangements (APAs) under Universal Credit are being deleted by the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP).
Universal Credit expert Bill Irvine said he has been contacted by hundreds of members complaining the DWP is refusing to deal with their applications claiming they ‘could not open attachments’ and as a result is entitled to delete them.
The department says the applications in question have either been sent to the ‘wrong’ email address or have been rejected as they included supporting evidence documents which should not have been attached.
The members affected were those operating in Universal Credit “live” areas, using the non-secure email system set up by the DWP itself.
Mr Irvine said: “In December I advised members of the DWP’s new e-mail facility.
“Designed to replace the original procedure, which required paper applications for APAs, sent by post to the Mail Opening Unit (MOU) in Wolverhampton, the electronic option was welcomed by social and private landlords alike – and until a month ago everything seemed to be working reasonably well.
“However, in recent weeks, I have had an influx of member e-mails, which all referred to APAs being rejected; why, was not so clear.
“The email seemed to be directed at those landlords (social & private) using the non-secure e-mail facility which represent the majority of users.”
The DWP said the non-secure system can only be used to make the initial APA application and that members who have had applications rejected are those who have attached the “Secure UC47” or supporting documents such as rent statements or letters claiming tenant vulnerability.
It has told members with non-secure email, they must make their applications using the non-secure version of the UC47 form – which does not include space for sensitive data. In addition, any supporting documents MUST be submitted by post.
A DWP spokesperson said: “If we get the wrong version of the form, we are technically not allowed to accept it. It will be rejected, and they (social and private landlords) will be told to send it by post – security colleagues are insisting on this at the moment”.
Mr Irvine has advised landlords to include personal information, like National Insurance numbers and dates of birth as he is extremely worried the DWP will struggle to match up the electronic application forms sent by e-mail with documents being sent through the post.
He said: “I have very real concerns about the DWP’s capacity to marry up the electronic UC47 application with supporting documentation – rent statements, vulnerability letters etc sent by post.
“I would advise Including National Insurance numbers and dates of birth, if you’ve got them, as this will greatly increase your chances of success. If you don’t follow this advice, more than likely, the APA application will NOT be processed, creating the likelihood of lost rental income.
“The DWP seems to be creating yet another stage in an already complex and lengthy process, which will ultimately delay payments and see landlords lose out on rents.”
Bill Irvine is an RLA trainer and Universal Credit expert. If you require any further information on this or any other aspect of Universal Credit or welfare reform contact firstname.lastname@example.org