Managed Migration briefing for Parliamentarians
The APPG on Universal Credit is a cross-party group, which was established in order for Members of Parliament of all parties to be able to come together to discuss the experiences of their own constituents, to receive advice and support from various agencies, to share best practice at supporting constituents and monitor this critical policy as it is rolled out.
The APPG accepts the core aims of Universal Credit (UC) in simplifying the benefits system and making it easier for people to move into work. The reality of UC, however, does not live up to these good intentions. We are seriously concerned that the design of UC does not sufficiently take into consideration the specific needs of the poorest working age people in the UK, and that in its current form, UC does not work in their best interest.
On 16 October 2018, the APPG held a briefing for Parliamentarians on Universal Credit ‘Managed Migration’ from Child Poverty Action Group, Citizens Advice and Mind. The following parliamentarians were present: Ruth George MP (Chair of the Universal Credit APPG) Stephen Lloyd MP (Vice Chair of UC APP) and Mike Amesbury MP. Also present:The Office of Jeremy Corbyn, The Church of England, Equality and Human Rights Commission & Residential Landlords Association.
About Child Poverty Action Group
Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) works on behalf of the one in four children in the UK growing up in poverty. CPAG develop and campaign for policy solutions to end child poverty. They also provide information, training and advice to the people who work with hard-up families, to make sure they get the financial support they need and carry out high profile legal work to establish and confirm families’ rights.
Overview of Managed Migration
Around 6 million households are expected to move onto UC between now and 2023. Of these, 2 million are expected to join through ‘managed migration’ which is due to start testing in January 2019.
Once at pace, 69,000 households a month are expected to move on to UC.
The DWP’s own survey stated that 1 in 5 initial UC claims failed and 100,00 people were at risk of their benefits being stopped.
- Rethink the approach to managed migration so that the DWP itself creates new UC claims, followed by a process of collating further information needed from claimants. Should this not be agreed, introduced robust safeguards in law (in the regulations) to protect people who have not claimed UC by their deadline date.
- Provide a minimum 2 week ‘run-on’ of existing benefits for people who claim UC by keeping the legacy benefits system open, to minimise hardship, resulting from the 5 week wait.
- Suspend the scaling up of UC (both managed and natural migration) until the key problems with its design and delivery have been addressed. Investment and time could fix the problems of UC.
- Transitional protections should be:
- extended to people who have made a past unsuccessful UC claim
- extended to people living in temporary and supported accommodation
- extended to people affected by the benefits cap
- extended to disabled children
- extended to disabled adults under 25
- extended to parents under 25
- not eroded by the birth or arrival of a new child
- shared between members of a couple in the event of separation
- increased for the Severe Disability Premium to £183 a month and remain a permeant top-up
2. Briefing – Citizens Advice
About Citizens Advice
Citizens Advice aims to provide advice to people in need and improve the policies and practices that affect people’s lives. Citizens Advice provides free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities.
In April 2019 Citizens Advice will help deliver Universal Support for UC – providing help for people’s initial UC claim.
In places without a Bureau we will put an arrangement in place with a neighbouring bureau to provide coverage.
Citizens Advice don’t think that Universal Support fixes all the problems in UC, however there is a need for support when people move between systems. Citizens Advice will continue to call for changes to UC. Their key concerns are:
- Aside from problems with initial claims people having deductions from their income is the second biggest issue Citizens Advice have found in UC.
- Benefit systems need to work for people with different income levels. The ‘minimum income floor’ is a penalty in the system disproportionately impacting on self-employed people.
- The assessment periods may be simpler for DWP, but they are not for people. There could be multiple versions.
- Alternative Payment Arrangements to landlords are worryingly low. Citizens Advice will recommend people where appropriate.
- The UC application process shouldn’t be on the individual.
- People mustn’t have a loss of income through ‘managed migration’ onto UC.
- Transitional protections must work.
- There must be an agreed framework of success and transparent assessments so there is time to test, learn and fix things.
Mind offers information and advice to people with mental health problems in England and Wales.
750,000 people in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) will be transferred onto UC by ‘managed migration’.
People are very worried about the process as they will have to start their claim from scratch.
UC treats people as if they are fit for work unless they prove otherwise – much discretion rests with jobcentre staff.
The support offered by Universal Support is not enough to mitigate the risk of benefits being stopped.
Claimants should be guaranteed that their benefits continue until they have made a claim for UC.
Concerns about Natural Migration
There are also still 1 million people going through ‘natural migration’ this autumn.
- If a claimant moves from ESA to UC through ‘natural migration’ we have found the results of their assessment are lost for several months as there is no way to carry over the results.
- Automation is needed if a claimant is receiving ESA so their information is immediately captured.
- When Income Support was changed to ESA the DWP was about to convert the claim across, so it could also be done for UC.
Mind surveyed 400 people with mental health problems. The major issues found were:
- People don’t open their letters as they are anxious about what it contains.
- People will wait to see a social work/adviser people to get help with their letter.
- People often miss an appointment or are unable to attend. In applying for UC you have to attend at least one appointment – mental health problems are not taken on board in the application process.
- People struggle with the online process of claiming UC. They may not have digital access.
The Work and Pensions Select Committee’s inquiry and report into Managed Migration.