Campaigns Welfare Reform and Homelessness

Big win as ‘explicit consent’ no longer required for APAs

Bill Irvine
Written by Bill Irvine

RLA trainer, housing benefit and Universal Credit expert Bill Irvine returns with news that the DWP will no longer need tenants’ consent when applying for Alternative Payment Arrangements (APAs) – and how the RLA helped secure this win.

He said: “Good morning, and a happy and prosperous New Year to you.

I’m delighted to start the New Year with a piece of good news for those of you who make use of the Alternative Payment Scheme (APA) to secure redirection of the tenant’s “housing costs”.

DWP has just confirmed its staff have been instructed “explicit consent” will no longer be required in relation to the progressing of APA requests.

Prior to this, it insisted on “explicit consent” from the tenant as a requirement before an APA could be progressed.

This, in turn, caused countless thousands of landlords (social and private) to lose many thousands of pounds of rental income, due to the fact tenants were either delaying or refusing consent.

By doing so, many were accessing and misusing public funds at the landlords’ expense.

I referred to the scandalous situation in an e-mail exchange with Neil Couling, Director General.

With the help of the Residential Landlord Association and Caridon Property Services, we redoubled our efforts to highlight what was happening, hoping this would force DWP to change tack.

We did this by Caridon and myself pursuing many complaints, firstly through the DWP’s “Complaints Process” and more recently, we referred seven cases to the Independent Case Examiner (ICE).

Each case, exposes thousands of pounds in rental loss, despite DWP’s knowledge of what was happening, and are all associated with serious flaws in both the APA and complaints processes.

The RLA meet regularly with DWP and have been constantly lobbying for a range of changes to the current arrangments.

To their credit, DWP’s Complaints & Resolution staff have often shown nothing but sympathy to the landlords’ predicament, whereas, DWP’s hierarchy simply continued to try and defend its indefensible position.

The game-changer, in my opinion, was the submission of the detailed referrals to ICE, as this is the first truly independent stage in the “Complaints Process” which prompted exchanges with DWP seeking explanations.

Following DWP’s announcement, we’re now even more confident, ICE will find merit in our argument, DWP is guilty of maladministration, causing landlords wholly avoidable loss, and will recommend suitable compensation for landlords.

We also believe, an ICE recommendation, to this effect, could also force DWP to compensate the many copycat cases that exist, so it’s vitally important landlords continue to pursue complaints through DWP to ICE.

Removing “explicit consent” in relation to APA processing, represents a major success for social & private landlords, as it should ensure future APA requests are processed much quicker and should help to avoid a repeat of the substantial losses we have seen in the past two years.

But few, if any landlords, will be aware of the change as DWP has chosen to adopt a low profile, in terms of broadcasting the change, so much so, we suspect many DWP frontline staff will still be oblivious to the new guidance.

So, it’s important we share the information with you wherever possible highlight its potential on a range of social media platforms and in the training sessions & consultancy we offer.”

 

  • If you require any further information on this or any other welfare reform topic, please e-mail bill@ucadvice.co.uk or phone 07733 080 389.
  • The RLA runs Universal Credit courses, which are being updated to reflect the new changes announced in the Autumn Budget. For more information and to book click here.

About the author

Bill Irvine

Bill Irvine

Bill has quickly become known as a very effective Welfare Rights Advocate. He has been involved in most of the major social security changes since the early 80’s when Housing Benefit was first introduced. As well as offering advice and assistance to landlords, primarily in the RSL/PRS sectors, he also provides representation when disputes can’t be resolved through negotiation and where they have to be progressed through the formal tribunal process, initially to First Tier and, if necessary, through to Upper Tier level where some of his cases have proved to be of national importance to disadvantaged groups.

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