Joint UC claims, appeals and relationship breakdown

I have a scenario which I have not dealt with before and would be interested in views.

My client is Mrs A. She lived for a time with Mr A. Mr A has a liability for housing costs to a family member. They made a joint claim for UC and DWP refused the HCE on the grounds of non-commerciality. Mrs A is appealing that decision (Mr A is not strictly a party to the appeal but was supporting Mrs A’s appeal). Mr A was the payee for UC on the joint claim. The rent has been paid by the subsistence benefit and from Mrs A borrowing money from family and friends so the rent account is essentially up to date.

Mr A has now left Mrs A. Mrs A is going to stay in the property and Mr A’s family member has agreed to issue a new tenancy agreement in her name. Mrs A is concerned that should the appeal be successful, the DWP will pay the arrears to Mr A’s account and she will never see them again, leaving her owing debts.

I am aware that DWP has broad powers to pay either partner on a joint claim or to split the payment – reg 47 C&P Regs – (although I have only heard of that in the context of DV). It seems that there is at least an argument that the arrears should be paid to Mrs A given that she has been the one discharging the rental liability. 

How, in practice, should I go about arguing that payment ought to be made to Mrs A? Who should that argument be made to and do I have to wait for the appeal to be resolved?

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