Warning over ‘sprint finish’ to move people onto Universal Credit

The rush to transfer people onto Universal Credit could cause real and widespread hardship for the most vulnerable, according to the Child Poverty Action Group.

Woman holding a bill and calculator, looking worried

 

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) is calling on the Government to extend its new timescales for moving people from older benefits to Universal Credit to prevent vulnerable claimants from falling through the cracks.

The charity says the DWP must pause or slow down its plans, clarify aspects of the process that remain ambiguous – even to advisers – and publish its readiness criteria.    It is seeing cases of people struggling to claim UC and nearly missing their deadline to do so because they don’t understand what’s required of them.  When people don’t claim within their deadline they lose their current benefits and if they claim late, they can lose a cash top-up designed to ensure claimants are not worse off when they move to UC.

In a phased process known as ‘managed migration’, claimants of older benefits are being required to move to Universal Credit. Claimants get three months to claim UC from the date they receive their ‘migration notice’.   If they don’t claim within three months, their current benefits are terminated.  Even if people who miss their migration deadline do eventually manage to claim UC, they will have lost their entitlement to transitional protection – a top-up which ensures claimants are not worse off at the point of transition to UC, which is sometimes worth hundreds of pounds a month.

Managed migration began to scale last April when the DWP gave itself a year to send 500,000 migration notices to tax credit-only claimants during 2023/24. It has now revealed plans to send out 440,000 notices in the six months to September to claimants in much more varied and vulnerable circumstances.

CPAG says the fast final timescales are too high-risk, not least because the new cohort includes people who are sick or disabled and have higher support needs than tax-credit-only claimants. For many benefits are their sole income.  The charity believes that unless the DWP slows down its managed migration plan, many of the most vulnerable claimants will lose money they need because they won’t understand what they need to do and won’t have access to advice.

DWP data published earlier this month showed that 25% of tax credits claimants who have reached their deadline to make a UC claim haven’t moved and have had their benefits cut off as a result (affecting 32,000 families).  Yet CPAG says the DWP has conducted only minimal research into why the ‘no claims’ rate is so high for this cohort.

What’s more, independent welfare rights advisers can’t currently give robust estimates of how much UC people will have when they migrate, because the department’s exact approach to calculating transitional protection for some groups is unclear. In addition to demanding a pause on the UC roll-out, CPAG believes the DWP should publish the criteria by which it is gauging its readiness to expand managed migration.

Child Poverty Action Group’s Chief Executive Alison Garnham said: “It may be in the DWP’s administrative interests to barrel almost half a million people on to Universal Credit at breakneck pace, but for claimants it’s downright dangerous. There’s a high risk that large numbers will slip through the cracks, lose the support they need and fall into debt.  The department must pause the roll-out, prise itself from its self-imposed targets and come up with a watertight process for moving people safely to UC.   Progress at the expense of claimants – some of them sick or disabled – is no progress at all.”



Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your Franchise Selection

Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now

Your Franchise Selection

This franchise opportunity has been added to your franchise selection

image

title

Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now


You may be interested in these similar franchises