Department for Work and Pensions working with LAs Issue 106 • October 2010
Welcome to the October issue of HB Direct. We’ve let Paul Howarth have a week off and so I am your guest editor this month.
I performed this role once before and, if you can be bothered to Google my name, you will find a link to my previous effort
(on the third page and only after ploughing through a lot of impostors!). I’m hoping this effort might get me onto page 2 of the
Google search engine results!
This month we aren’t ‘Waiting for Godot’ but we are very definitely waiting for the outcome of the spending review.
Announcements are due to be made on 20th October and I know that there is a meeting planned shortly afterwards to discuss
with the Local Authority Associations the implications of any announcements.
Meanwhile work carries on preparing the changes that have already been announced and there is an article this month on the
work we are doing to help authorities prepare for those changes.
Our IT projects continue to make good progress and this issue of HB Direct contains a number of updates (on the Employee
Authentication Service, JSA online, ATLAS and CIS prompts). There is also an update on the number to use if you want to
contact HMRC about Child Benefit and an important reminder of the process for making changes to your GCSX connection.
I hope you enjoy this month’s edition, there is a lot going on with the possibility of more to come – we live in interesting times.
Housing Benefit Strategy Division
Distribution enquiries | Enquiries about publishing articles | Contacts at DWP
The Automated Transfers to Local CIS Prompts to LAs Project
Authority Systems (ATLAS) Project
The ATLAS high level business requirements document In July 2010 we re-instated Customer Information System
and a covering letter were sent to LA Benefit Managers, (CIS) Prompts on a voluntary basis, you have been
single points of contact and section 151 officers on 22 provided with updated guidance relating to improvements to
September 2010 by secure e-mail. The letter detailed what help identify smarter ways of using the prompts and retrieve
considerations need to be undertaken by authorities. If your the ‘best value’ prompts easier.
LA has not received this information please contact the Users of the current service have told us they find it useful.
team using the e-mail address below. Some have reported examples of substantial savings and
Consultation is ongoing with the Department for Work that they are receiving prompts containing changes that
and Pensions (DWP) IT suppliers, LA IT suppliers and you were unaware of, especially those alerting changes to
local authority (LA) representatives on the IT solution. The HMRC Tax Credit awards.
proposed solution will use existing data feeds and DWP file To ensure that CIS Prompts work as efficiently as possible,
transfer functions to transfer the data securely to LAs. The you need to ensure that you use the correct LA ID code
data will be delivered to the Data Transfer Appliance (DTA) when setting the interest indicator. This will ensure the
server and presented in Extensible Mark-up Language correct LA receives a prompt when their HB/CTB customer’s
(XML) format. LAs will need to work with their IT teams and DWP benefit or HMRC award changes.
software suppliers to automate the process of moving the
files from the DTA into the benefit processing systems. These indicators will be used to prompt notifications
for the ATLAS project, which is due to be implemented
The funding amount and method of distribution will be from April 2011, so even if your LA has chosen
decided by the end of October 2010. currently not to retrieve the CIS Prompt notifications it
The new process is scheduled to go-live in April 2011 with is important that the indicators are kept up to date.
early adopter LAs. Full details are provided in the CIS Prompts to LAs Guide
The ATLAS page on the DWP website is updated regularly. (version e) which is available on request.
If you have any queries, please contact us on The CIS Prompts to LAs page on the DWP website is
Email: QH.HBInfoFlowsProgramme@DWP.GSI.GOV.UK updated regularly. If you have any queries or require a copy
of the updated training and guidance, please contact us on
2 Department for Work and Pensions working with LAs Issue 106 • October 2010
JSA Online Release 2 Contacting Child Benefit Office
Directgov is a one-stop shop for information about all public We have been advised by HM Revenues and Customs
services. that they have changed the number that you should use
for submitting enquiries.
The jobseekers’ pages have help and advice for people
wanting to claim a benefit, plan a career change or support If you need to contact the Child Benefit Office for
in getting back into work including searching for jobs online. information you should make your request in writing on
headed notepaper and FAX it to 0191 225 1908.
Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) Online is available on
Directgov as a straight forward way for customers to apply If you have any enquires please contact
for JSA Contribution (JSA(C)) and JSA Income-based Stakeholder Engagement team Benefits and Credits,
(JSA(IB)), they can also make a claim for HB/CTB and HMRC:
a Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission (CMEC)
referral at the same time. Nora Burwood
Over 220,000 customers have so far successfully applied Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
for JSA online. We recognise that the online service will not Arshad Dadabhoy
be for everyone, so the current ways of applying for JSA will
also remain available.
Customers can also get advice on which benefits they might
be entitled to and an estimate of the amount they might Email: email@example.com
receive with the online Benefits Adviser. Customers can also
input ‘what if’ scenarios for advice on the impact of taking
work on their benefit entitlement.
DWP is committed to providing more of its services online
in future, we are introducing Digital Champions in our
Jobcentres, who will work with partner organisations to
provide opportunities for customers to develop their online
skills and access the internet.
Help your customers find out more by putting the following
link on your website
3 Department for Work and Pensions working with LAs Issue 106 • October 2010
Communications toolkit – 2011 Budget changes
We are currently developing a communications toolkit for LAs to support you in implementing the HB changes announced in
the Emergency Budget. We will also provide advice for other stakeholders such as welfare rights advisors who are likely to
receive enquiries from customers. The aim is to place material on the DWP website and on Direct Gov for customers, LAs and
The intention is that toolkit will include
• technical circulars
• updated HB Guidance
• revised DHP Best Practice material
• model letters
• leaflets and posters that you can download from the DWP website
• frequently asked questions
• general advice
The material is intended to provide the full range of products you will need to inform customers about the changes. It will focus
on what the changes are, when they impact and sign-post customers to where they can get more information.
We will be working with the Local Authority Associations (LAAs) to develop this material. We are also working with welfare
advice groups and other Government Departments to ensure that customers receive appropriate advice on a range of issues
such as housing as well as benefit advice. The intention is to have initial products ready as soon as the regulations are in
place and the whole package ready by the end of the calendar year.
If you have any suggestions of what you would like to see included in the toolkit please contact
4 Department for Work and Pensions working with LAs Issue 106 • October 2010
Reminder about the GSi Request for Change (RFC) process
The autumn round of GCSX (Government Connect Secure Extranet) Customer Forums has now concluded. They were well
supported and the feedback was generally very positive. Those who attended heard a range of informative presentations and
had the chance to participate in lively group discussions about how to get the best out of their GCSX connection and services.
On the back of these presentations it’s worth reminding all GSi customers (including GCSX) of the process for making
a change to the service provided to them by Cable & Wireless Worldwide. There is an established GSi RFC (request for
change) process and it’s important to follow it.
The three main reasons for raising a GSi RFC are
• a change to an existing GSi service e.g. needing increased circuit capacity, wanting to shift a circuit (examples include
site moves or relocations)
• a shared service change e.g. a request to share access to data or applications with some other organisations that are
connected to the same community (examples include GCSX to GCSX), and
• what’s called an Inter community change i.e. a request to share access to data or applications with organisations in
another GSi community (e.g. LA access to NHS applications)
One other point to remember is that any Data Transport Appliance (DTA) change requests are supported directly by the
DWP LA Support Team (LA-ST). LA-ST will ask you to complete an Operational Change Request (OCR) to ensure your Data
Transport Appliance (DTA) is changed (e.g. moved or reconfigured) and will liaise with Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services
(HPES) on your behalf.
It’s important that if you are planning to make a change you factor enough time into your plans to allow for the GSi RFC and
OCR to be processed. If you don’t you may, as one LA did recently when it moved sites, find yourself without access to CIS or
the DTA while the GSi RFC/OCR are processed!
For information on the GSi RFC process and for other details on GCSX please see this useful briefing pack
5 Department for Work and Pensions working with LAs Issue 106 • October 2010
The Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Miscellaneous
Amendment) Regulations 2010
Subject to parliamentary approval, we will soon be making some amendments to the HB/CTB regulations and other
associated secondary legislation. Although these include purely technical corrections or updates, some will be of more interest
We are arranging for the amendment regulations to be laid in parliament as soon as possible after conference recess ends,
and the following changes are intended to come into force shortly after they have been laid
• the restoration of the intended operation of the regulations following Upper Tribunal judgements on
- the pensioner ‘time for claiming’ provisions, and
- application of the size criteria when the household includes a foster child
• clarification that a request for backdating does not constitute a claim that is separate from an ongoing claim
• greater discretion to accept a report from a customer of a change of circumstances by telephone
• the discretion for LAs to make payment direct to a bank account where the first payment of rent allowance is to be made to
Two further amendments are also planned to come into force in spring 2011
• the abolition of the baby element in the Family Premium to reflect the abolition of the baby credit in Child Tax Credit that
was announced in the Budget
• the introduction of a full disregard of special guardianship order and residency order payments
Guidance on all these amendments will be published in an HB/CTB Adjudication circular when the regulations have been laid.
In the meantime, if you have any questions please contact Richard Grennan on 020 7449 5328 or by email at
6 Department for Work and Pensions working with LAs Issue 106 • October 2010
EAS CIS Implementation Project Update
The national roll-out of Employee Authentication Service (EAS) is starting with the first group of LA Agents starting their
training in mid-October. This training will enable LA Agents to register and enrol End Users onto EAS/CIS and issue the
tokens users will need to access CIS.
Prior to the training you will receive the following documentation
• Business Implementation Guide
• Technical Implementation Guide
• Sponsor Pack + End User Tracker to be completed with the details of your authority’s End Users
To confirm successful implementation there will be the following checkpoints
• Operational Readiness Review (ORR) - a functional test conducted by your nominated technical contact to confirm that all
the peripherals and software are installed and configured correctly
• Register, Enrol & Authorise (REA 1) – confirmation that the Agent can successfully register and enrol one CIS user, the
DWP National Registration Authority (NRA) can authorise this user, and the CIS user can successfully log onto CIS
• REA2 – processing all remaining CIS users
If you haven’t yet returned the Base Information Form requested via email on 12 August 2010, please return it as soon as
possible – thank you.
If you require further information or have any other questions, please contact us at Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or
go to our website www.dwp.gov.uk/eas
7 Department for Work and Pensions working with LAs Issue 106 • October 2010