ESA and UC aren’t talking

Phoning ESA again. It has a long spiel followed by ‘please press 1 to continue’. Why not just carry on without having to press 1?

After more spiel, there is an explanation about it being the wrong number for Universal Credit. Then it tells you, twice, that you need to state what benefit you are on and the reason for calling. Instead of ‘press 1 for ESA, 2 for JSA’ etc, you have to state the benefit verbally – which the automated system then has to repeat back to you to check. It makes for a very lengthy system. Maybe it saves staff time, but it wastes claimants’ time. Additionally, when giving one’s NI number, the letters aren’t repeated back in NATO code, so one has to hope that a) the automated system heard you correctly, and b) you heard the automated system correctly.

My first time through the automated voice system today, I got cut off after stating why I was phoning. Maybe it didn’t like my reason. It was only on the second time that I got through to giving my NI number and bank details – which hadn’t been asked for yesterday. It’s like a maze.

The voice cuts in to the hold music every 45 seconds, and talks for 25 seconds, in case anyone’s wondering.

30minutes on hold, and I get a response. In a bizarre twist, it’s not ESA that have overpaid me. They will keep paying me fortnightly until UC tells them that my UC has been set up and is in payment. UC should have taken my continuing ESA payment into account when determining what to pay me. On the other hand, ESA should no longer be deducting money from ESA payments on the grounds of savings, because I’m no longer over the savings threshold. Unfortunately I forgot to mention this, as I was surprised to learn that the problem is with UC.

UC is treating me as a jobseeker with a sick note until ESA tells them that I was/am in the ESA Support Group. ESA is treating me as if I’m still on ESA until UC tells them I’ve had my first UC payment.

If, as a previous ESA call handler and a previous UC call handler said (and contrary to a jobcentre staff member), I will be put into the UC equivalent of ESA Support Group, I’ll need to a) have my Universal Credit topped up to the UC support group amount, b) have my earnings withdrawal added back on because I’ll then have a disregard above what I earned, and c) have my ESA payments taken off so that I end up as if I’d been in UC support group from the very start, and hadn’t been paid ESA as well, and hadn’t had deductions for earnings.

UC should also have taken into account the fact that I have a spare room, albeit with a lodger in it, and therefore deducted 14% from my rent payment. They didn’t do this, so that needs to be factored in too.

I’m also going to be reassessed, so my UC amount could be about to change anyway, depending on my assessment.

On the positive side, my housing association has confirmed that my service charge is at a fixed rate, and that therefore they slightly overcharged me when I paid my first rent and service charge bill. Future bills will match what UC has on its system as my rent and service charge.

#welfarereform #socialsecurity #benefitcuts #benefitssystem #UniversalCredit #ESA

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