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Date posted: 29th August 2018
Thomas Pocklington Trust are calling on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) not to proceed with “managed migration” until the many outstanding problems have been analysed and addressed.
These regulations will be critical to the well-being of around three million people. There is a widespread and well-founded belief that the Universal Credit system is simply not ready and that the prospect of large numbers of disabled people finding themselves without income for a protracted period is very real. Thomas Pocklington Trust fully endorse the wider recommendations of the Disability Benefits Consortium.
“Managed migration” (due to start next year) is the process by which benefit claimants are moved from “legacy benefits” to Universal Credit. “Managed migration” will affect around three million people (over two million claimants and their families) and as matters stand, it seems certain that large numbers will experience serious difficulties.
Further to this, the DWP has acknowledged that a large proportion of the caseload being migrated from legacy benefits will have a disability or health condition. As an indication, 36% of those being migrated will be claiming income-related ESA.
1. The DWP should halt managed migrations until the outstanding problems have been addressed
The current proposal for “managed migration” will entail simply stopping the current benefits received by the three million people concerned and telling them to take their chances with a demanding Universal Credit claims process.
Some of the key issues that need to be addressed include:
This recommendation is backed by the National Audit Office in a report from June 2018, which states that the DWP should “Ensure that operational performance and costs improve sustainably before increasing caseloads through managed migration” and recommends that “The programme does not expand before business-as-usual operations can cope with higher claimant volumes.”
“managed migration” will entail simply stopping the current benefits received by the three million people concerned and telling them to take their chances
2. When “managed migration” does go ahead, there should be no termination of an individual’s existing benefits until an award of Universal Credit has been determined
Universal Credit is of major significance to disabled people. This is partly because it replaces benefits, or aspects of benefits, that specifically concern disability or long-term health conditions; and partly because, as a means-tested benefit, it focuses on low incomes, which disproportionately affect disabled people. It is vital that existing benefits are not prematurely terminated, for the following reasons:
Geoff Fimister, consultant for Thomas Pocklington Trust and policy co-chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium, said: “Over the next few years, starting next year, existing claimants of a number of benefits (the means-tested versions of Employment and Support Allowance and Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit, Income Support and Tax Credits) will have their current payments stopped and will be invited to claim Universal Credit”
“TPT is opposed to this stop-start disruption of people’s incomes and has joined with the other members of the Disability Benefits Consortium to call for a pause to the process while problems are fixed and for an orderly and unbroken transition from the old to the new payments. We shall do our best, along with other organisations in the visual impairment field, to prepare and support blind and partially sighted people through the change, but it seems inevitable that many will be left without money unless the Government is prepared to listen now.”
Notes to Editors
About Thomas Pocklington Trust
Thomas Pocklington Trust identifies and meets the needs and aspirations of blind and partially sighted people across the UK, by funding and supporting our strategic partners.