Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘DWP

Sanctions Regime Scandal Continues As Calls Made for Root-and-Branch Reform of the System.

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There’s lot to Dramatise about Universal Credit…..

Perhaps it’s just us lot, but the sanctions regime really sticks in the craw.

This is in the Daily Record.

Universal Credit sanctions imposed on 256,000 claimants as charity demands halt to harsh regime

Citizens Advice Scotland demanded an immediate halt to the harsh benefit sanctions regime after a quarter of a million people across Britain were penalised in a year.

The Department for Work and Pensions published a report confirming 256,000 sanctions between May last year and April for people on Universal Credit.

It comes days after a woman said she had thousands of pounds cut when she missed an appointment because she suffered a miscarriage.

Mhoraig Green, from Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “We have long raised concerns about cases where people have had their benefits unfairly sanctioned, leaving them without any income for a sustained period, causing them to require crisis support including food bank referrals.”

In Scotland, the network of Citizens Advice offices helped people with sanctions 1273 times in the past financial year.

Earlier this week, Danielle John’s story sparked revulsion after she revealed a 229-day sanction was imposed because she
forgot to inform her work coaches about a miscarriage suffered the day before an appointment.

A DWP spokesman said: “It is only right that we expect some claimants to meet certain agreed commitments in exchange for their benefits.

“We want to ensure sanctions are effective and support claimants, which is why we constantly review them and have announced an end to single fixed-period sanctions lasting more than six months.”

Benefit sanctions statistics to April 2019

This is from the Background to the Report,

There are four sanction levels in UC: –
• Lowest Level: Failure to attend or take part in a Work-Focused Interview. The sanction lasts until the claimant attends or takes part in one, or moves to either the Working – no requirements or No Work Requirements conditionality regimes.
• Low Level: The sanction lasts until the claimant does what they previously failed to do and were sanctioned for (e.g. failing to attend a training course) or because either the requirement is no longer appropriate or an alternative compliance condition has been met, plus 7, 14 or 28 days for the first, second or third low level sanction in any 12-month period.

• Medium Level: The sanction lasts 28 days for the first sanction in any 12 month period, and 96 days (approximately 3 months) for a second medium level sanction. Medium level sanctions apply, for example, where the claimant has to meet the work availability requirement, but has failed to be available to attend an interview or start work.

• High Level: The sanction lasts for 96 days (approximately 3 months) for the first sanction in any 12-month period, 182 days (approximately 6 months) for a second high level sanction and 1095 days (approximately 3 years) for a third.
Universal Credit Sanctions Official Statistics

Which lead to this, apart from the Play above

this is extremely interesting:

Selection of Recommendations.

  • Recommendation: The DWP needs to abolish the 5 week wait for Universal Credit.
  • Recommendation: The DWP needs to urgently comply with the findings of the High Court, that people paid monthly but whose earnings for two months fall into one assessment period should be treated as having been paid for the period when their wages were earned, rather than the date they were received.
  • Recommendation: People who are self-employed should be able to request 3-monthly assessment periods for earnings and costs. This would even out sporadic payments and fit with reporting requirements for Making Tax Digital, reducing bureaucracy for micro businesses.
  • Recommendation: The rigidity of monthly assessment periods needs to be urgently reviewed. People who are paid on a different schedule should be able to average their earnings. Those who have a change of circumstances during the assessment period should have the option to average out the impact
  • Recommendation: Claimants should be paid twice-monthly by default as they are in Northern Ireland, and in pilots in some Jobcentres, with the option to be paid monthly if they wish.
  • Recommendation: All claimants should have the option of direct payments to their landlord from the start of the claim.
  • Recommendations: Benefits should rise by 2% above inflation for each of the next 4 years in order to restore their value to 2015 levels.
    A minimum standard of income for benefits claimants should be assessed and implemented by the DWP for all elements of Universal Credit.
  • Recommendation: The value of Local Housing Allowance should be restored to accurately reflect the lowest 30% of market rents in every area.

 Sanctions.

The DWP’s UC Full Service Survey showed that 11% of claimants had been sanctioned, of whom 18% had been sanctioned more than once.

These are far higher rates than JSA or ESA.

  • Recommendation: The DWP should publish a list of common circumstances that constitute ‘good reason’ for breaching the claimant commitment. There needs to be a standardised sanctions process across the country to reduce reliance on judgement and increase fairness and accountability in the application of sanctions.
  • Recommendation: All DWP staff and work coaches should receive training on the definition of ‘good reasons’ for claimants not to be issued with a Universal Credit sanction. This should include an ‘other circumstances’ category where judgement can be applied. The training must also ensure that DWP staff are aware of and follow standardised procedure in relation to sanctions. This should be followed up with a requirement for decision makers to ensure that these procedures have been applied before sanctions are implemented.
  • Recommendation: Remove fixed term sanctions – sanctions should end when claimants have complied with their requirements. Sanctions should also end if the claimant becomes unable to comply, for example due to becoming unwell or having a new baby.

 

There’s a lot more: read it!

Followed by:

Written by Andrew Coates

August 15, 2019 at 11:15 am

Sanctions Regime: The Story of Danielle John.

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Beginning of a Spiral of Sanctions.

DWP cuts woman’s Universal Credit ‘for missing appointments after miscarriage’

Mirror.

Danielle John from Cardiff saw her life spiral out of control following the sanctions imposed by the Department for Work and Pensions

A woman says she was driven to shoplifting and drug abuse after having thousands of pounds from her Universal Credit payments cut after missing an appointment the day after suffering a miscarriage .

Danielle John forgot to inform her work coaches about the miscarriage and later received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions telling her that she would be sanctioned as a result.

The letter said: “You didn’t come to a meeting with us […] because of this, you’ll lose some or all of your universal credit payment for a time.

“We call this being sanctioned.”

The letter explained she would lose £10.40 every day for 229 days, a total of £2,381.6

The system lifted me from poverty. Today, Danielle John is not so lucky

Last week, a woman’s sanction letter from the Department for Work and Pensions went viral on Twitter. Danielle John, from Cardiff, simply wrote: “Was told to put this up on Twitter… this was because I had a miscarriage and missed appointment.”

These stories are fairly common now. We are used to seeing reports about people being sanctioned because of attending a funeral/cancer treatment/their child being in hospital. But this one struck me in particular because the language was so coldly efficient. Brief to the point of cruelty. I didn’t know it was possible, even in a business letter, to say: “We’re about to ruin your whole life” without a shred of empathy.

The letter, written in February 2017, starts in large font: “You’ll lose some of your payment… This reduction will last 229 days.” Two hundred and 29 days for a single missed appointment. That’s almost 32 weeks of punishment. Or, if you prefer, February until August, with no money at all. When you consider that the harsher punishments for domestic violence introduced in 2018 suggest a sentence towards the upper limit of “a fine to up to 26 weeks’ custody” for common assault, you have to wonder what fantastical, sadistic metric the DWP has used to calculate sanctions.

The letter goes on to say that for her missed appointment – I just want to pause to remind you here that Danielle John was having a miscarriage at the time of missing this appointment – she would be sanctioned £10.40 for each of those days. So, a total of £2,381.60.

Because of this Daneille John got attacked,

Contributors to this Blog are familiar with sanctions.

In February 2019, 66% the UC caseload were in the conditionality groups that could be subject to sanction, compared to 81% in August 2015. service decisions resulted in a sanction. This is up 5 percentage points from August 2018 to October 2018. migration to Universal Credit.14 May 2019

A few months ago this was the story,

Tories ditch ‘ineffective’ three-year benefit sanctions

Punishment, criticised for being pointlessly cruel, doesn’t work, admits Amber Rudd

The government is to abolish “counterproductive” three-year benefit sanctions, in an official acknowledgement that depriving jobless people of social security income for long periods undermines their attempts to move into work.

The announcement, made by the work and pensions secretary, Amber Rudd, during a speech on employment on Thursday morning, was welcomed by campaigners and MPs, who encouraged her to make further changes to the controversial policy.

But

Mentally ill universal credit claimant receives less than £6 for month after £312 deducted for sanctions

‘This poverty has no prejudice. This is the kind of thing that drives people to homelessness, and to suicide’

May Bulman 

Amber Rudd has yet to comment on the latest case.

End the Sanctions Regime! 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 12, 2019 at 11:40 am

Universal Credit Faces New Legal Challenge.

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Merseyside Job Centre has been covered in graffiti protesting against the government’s controversial Universal Credit benefit policy (August 2019)

A lot of social security legislation and the bodies administering it  seem to end up in legal cases.

From the private chancers running parts of the welfare state there is Capita.

Capita seeks to reverse ‘reputational damage’ after death of claimant

BBC.

Benefit-assessment company Capita is going to court to try to reverse the “reputational damage” it says it suffered after a claimant died.

Victoria Smith died months after her personal independence payments were stopped following a Capita assessment.

The outsourcing company was ordered to pay £10,000 in damages over its handling of her disability claim.

It was found to have made incorrect statements but wants the county court verdict set aside and the case reheard.

The company conducts health assessments for personal independence payments (PIP), the main disability benefit, on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.

While the decision over whether someone receives the benefit is made by a DWP official, Capita’s assessment of how a person’s disability affects their life is a crucial part of the process.

Now there is this:

Universal Credit bosses face new legal battle over ‘unfair’ payments in ‘flawed and illogical policy’

Claimants threaten legal proceedings because they are being short-changed.

Birmingham Live.

Universal Credit bosses are facing another legal battle over the amount some claimants are paid.

The Government is being taken to court for a third time over the way disabled people are treated when moved on to the new benefit.

Those who previously received Severe Disability Premium (SDP) and Enhanced Disability Premium (EDP) say they’ve lost out since being forced to go on to Universal Credit instead.

Two men, who are only identified as TP and AR, have already won two legal challenges against the DWP over the issue.

The High Court ruled the way claimants were treated was unlawful discrimination on both occasions.

The pair have now written again to Amber Rudd, Secretary of State of Work and Pensions, after she said the level of payments for severely disabled individuals who have moved onto UC will be set at £120 for single claimants.

They say this is unfair and does not reflect the money they have actually lost, which is about £180 per month.

TP and AR argue that “the Universal Credit migration arrangements announced on 22 July 2019 are still unlawful as they short-change individuals who previously received the Severe Disability Premium and Enhanced Disability Premium and moved onto Universal Credit before 16 January 2019 when the SDP Gateway Regulations came into force.”

The regulations meant that anyone on Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Housing Benefit will not be forced on to Universal Credit if they also get the Severe Disability Premium.

But now TP and AR say those who moved across before those rules came into effect will receive £50 less a month than those who no longer face being moved on the new benefit.

TP and AR have asked the DWP how the £120 figure was reached and argue that the full £180 per month shortfall should be given, otherwise the regulations will still be unlawful discrimination.

They also ask why the new regulations provide discretionary hardship payments for individuals who are subject to “managed migration” onto UC but not for those who have already had to move onto the benefit because their circumstances changed.

They argue that this is a further difference in treatment between the two groups.

The Government has been given a deadline of August 15, 2019, to reply to the letter, or the men say they will launch further legal proceedings.

Of course the law gets involved for simpler reasons:

Woman ‘unable to survive’ on £44 a month Universal Credit shoplifts from Primark

Mirror.

Universal Credit claimant Lisa Payne draped £117 worth of jeans over her arm and walked out of the Primark in Grimsby.

A woman left with just £44 a month on Universal Credit was caught stealing nine pairs of jeans from Primark, a court heard.

Lisa Payne “simply couldn’t survive with £44” over an entire month, her solicitor claimed.

The court heard Payne stole £117 worth of jeans from a Primark at the Freshney Place shopping centre in Grimsby, Lincolnshire.

The 46-year-old draped the pairs of jeans – costing £13 each – over her arm and walked out of the shop, but she failed to elude security officers, GrimsbyLive reported.

A guard followed her out of the store and the jeans were recovered during the theft on May 23.

Amber Rudd is hot on the job of making things better:

Written by Andrew Coates

August 7, 2019 at 9:46 am

After Day of Protest on Universal Credit: What is the Labour Party Doing?

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SALFORD JOINS STOP UNIVERSAL CREDIT DAY OF ACTION 

Unite the Union, above all Unite Community held a day of action on August the 1st (there will be a street stall in Ipswich soon).

These are the demands:

Unite is campaigning to #STOPUniversalCredit. The government must:

  • Abandon the long waits for claimants to receive money
  • Allow people to apply for Universal Credit in a jobcentre, not just online
  • Provide people with better help when the system fails them
  • Pay landlords directly to stop people getting into rent arrears and losing their homes
  • End benefit sanctions for all claimants.

Here are the reasons for the protests:

10 reasons why Universal Credit should be stopped

  1. Unbearably long waits for claimants to receive money
  2. People can only apply for Universal Credit online making it inaccessible for many
  3. Not enough help for claimants when the system fails them
  4. Rent paid directly to claimants instead of Landlords causing people to get into arrears and even to lose their homes
  5. Letting agents are already refusing to rent to anyone claiming Universal Credit
  6. Cruel sanctions for both in-work and out-of-work claimants
  7. Payments only go to one named member of a household
  8. Universal Credit takes 63p in every £1 people earn
  9. Universal Credit leaves many working families much worse off than the old system
  10. People in part-time work could be forced to give up work that suits their disability or family life in order to take up worse paid full-time work or risk sanctions.

There is a long list of events that took place:

#StopUniversalCredit
NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION – 1 August 2019
List of events across the country.

 

This is the most recent story that I can find on Labour’s policy:

Confusion – again – after Labour backtracks on Corbyn pledge to scrap universal credit

Labour’s policy on universal credit has again become mired in confusion after its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, promised to scrap the government’s “catastrophic” and “iniquitous” benefit system if his party wins the next general election.

Such a move would be seen as a significant victory for disabled activists and allies who have pushed the party to promise to scrap universal credit, instead of pledging only to halt the rollout of the system and fix its many flaws.

Interviewed after the party’s success in last week’s Peterborough by-election, Corbyn told Channel 4 News (pictured): “We are ready for a general election, and that general election will deliver a Labour government.”

He added: “If you voted Remain in 2016, and you’re on universal credit, if you voted Leave in 2016 on universal credit, you actually want to get rid of universal credit. That’s what Labour offers.”

Despite Corbyn’s comments, what seemed to be a significant change in policy appeared not to have been noticed by any mainstream media.

And the party’s press office today (Thursday) issued a statement that conflicted with what Corbyn said, merely stating again that a Labour government would pause the rollout of UC and try to make it fit for purpose.

A party spokesperson said: “Universal credit isn’t working and cannot continue in its current form.

“Labour will stop the roll-out, and ensure our social security system genuinely protects people from poverty.”

Disabled activists, particularly Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), have campaigned for the government – and any future Labour government – to “stop and scrap” universal credit (UC).

Only last week, DPAC released new research which detailed media articles on UC published between January and May this year, which it said was “a damning record of UC systemic and catastrophic failures”.

It said that UC had reached a point where it was “unable to adapt to claimants’ complex circumstances, and is forcing people with the least resources into further poverty, homelessness, and hunger”.

DPAC said it was calling for UC to be scrapped because it had become a social security system “which not only does not offer security, but actively undermined people’s ability to cope with the hazards of life”.

A DPAC spokesperson said last night (Wednesday), in response to Corbyn’s comments, but before the party had released its statement: “We welcome it as it’s the only credible position that Labour or any other party can take given UC’s well-evidenced fundamental failings, enormous waste and terrible harm but we remain unsure of Labour’s position until there is a firm public commitment.”

It is not the first time that Labour has appeared to call for UC to be scrapped and then retreated from that position.

This – there is no recent reference to Universal Credit – has been retweeted by the Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions, Margaret Greenwood.

She is, rightly, concerned about this:

Labour seems more interested in this scheme, which looks unlikely to solve the immediate problems of Universal Credit.

Critics point to three major flaws in Universal Basic Income

  • It is not redistributive: the Tories and their business friends can continue to trouser as much money as they wish.
  • It does not cover the real costs of living, nobody could pay their rent (housing benefit),  and cover all the costs of a decent life on this ‘basic’ unless it were set at a much higher rate than is feasible to pay out to everybody in the county.
  • It does not cover special needs, the money needed by disabled people to begin with.

In this vein,

DPAC warns Labour to rethink support for universal basic income

The DPAC report warns that too little attention has been paid to the implications of UBI for disabled people.

The report warns that it is likely that housing benefit and disability benefits would remain outside a UBI system.

This would mean the need for continuing disability assessments, and the risk that the high cost of running a UBI system would mean further cuts to benefits and services relied on by disabled people, such as social care support.

DPAC’s Ellen Clifford, author of the new report, said: “While we would be in favour of tax rises to fund welfare provision – particularly corporation tax and a progressive rise in the higher rate of income tax – the use of this for a UBI rather than more traditional forms of disability and unemployment support would mean much of the benefit flowing back to employers rather than those in most need.”

Two other grassroots organisations of disabled people, Black Triangle and WinVisible, have this week added their voices to the concerns raised by DPAC about UBI.

Clifford’s report concludes that implementing UBI “risks detracting attention and resources from the urgent task required to overhaul the disability benefits system and make it fit for purpose”.

It adds: “Given the history of disabled people’s exclusion and the marginalisation of our issues it is reasonable for disabled people to fear that attention and resources dedicated to the task of implementing a UBI will be at the expense of affecting the level of change needed to ensure disabled people receive adequate support.”

There are also concerns, says the report, that a more flexible employment market ushered in by UBI, with greater job insecurity and the likelihood of poorer working conditions and lower wages for lower-paid workers, would further disadvantage disabled workers.

They also say that right-wing versions of UBI are seen as a way of saving money by avoiding spending on a decent living wage and social protection.

And the report says that pushing for UBI risks deferring demands for full reasonable adjustments at work for disabled workers, and “full and unconditional support” for those unable to work, while “ending up with a system that is more of a helping hand for employers than for disabled people”.

The report says DPAC’s concerns are born out by the results of pilot UBI schemes that have been run across the world, including one in Finland that has just ended, but has not yet been assessed officially, which critics say has forced unemployed workers into bad jobs while undermining unions, wage equality, and the welfare state.

And it says concerns have been raised about the proposed pilot schemes in Scotland, including the cost and potential negative impacts on disabled people, including likely cuts to other social protection schemes.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 3, 2019 at 10:02 am

Universal Credit Claimants punished for not having Mobile Phones.

with 94 comments

Unite day of action against Universal Credit, Thursday 1st August

(Details of Actions, including in Ipswich, on the Saturday, to follow).

In the meantime somebody is happy:

While Amber Rudd basks in her success, and we await copies of the Boris Johnson Guide, Protect and Survive a No-Deal Brexit,  the mess that is Universal Credit continues to pile up.

Our newshounds have often posted about the “all digital” “on-line” problem-creating side of the madcap scheme to make everybody poorer.

Even the Boris Backing Currant Bun has admitted that,

PORTAL PROBLEMS 

Universal Credit’s online system ‘requires huge amounts of mobile data and doesn’t alert claimants’

A proper journalist for Third Force News reported only this year,

The shocking digital divide that punishes Universal Credit claimants

As many as one in three people seeking help with Universal Credit (UC) in Scotland don’t have access to the internet to make their claim.

Research carries out by the country’s network of citizen’s advice bureaux (CABs) point to a shocking digital divide impacting the most vulnerable.

The introduction of UC has caused myriad problems for claimants, plunging many into misery – not least because it is an online only system.

One side of this has just come up, from today’s Daily Record.

People without mobile phones facing delays on lifeline Universal Credit payments

Dedicated staff at Renfrewshire CAB say they are finding some of the most vulnerable people who do not have a phone are at risk of facing delays in their applications.

Having a mobile phone is something most of us take for granted.

But, for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, being without a mobile phone could mean lifeline cash that keeps a roof over their head and food in their fridge, simply slips out of their hands.

Staff at Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau, in Paisley, have laid bare the issues faced by Universal Credit applicants who don’t have access to a mobile phone.

The most pressing concern is that claimants can’t find out how their application is progressing and what steps they need to take next.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) uses a call back system, which means that, without a mobile phone, some people who are in dire need can face their application being delayed as there are no means of contacting them.

Bureau manager Kay Taylor, who has worked at the Renfrewshire branch for eight years, insists the system makes the application process much more difficult for many.

She said: “Some of the clients who come here have complex issues and are dealing with chaotic lifestyles.

“And although, quite rightly, the DWP has this call-back in place, it can be problematic for people with complex issues as they may have no means for the DWP of getting in touch with them and it can stall their claims.

“If they don’t have a mobile phone, they can’t get the notifications about their applications telling them what next steps they need to take.

“They can come here to have the DWP call them back on a landline at a specific time, but sometimes that can be difficult or is not possible.”

Amber is still wafting away in the happy clouds of forgetfulness.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 30, 2019 at 10:36 am

Forever Amber, Rudd: She’s Back and No More Mrs Nice Lady!

with 99 comments

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Forever Amber: “If you had better sense you’d have learned by now that nothing thrives so well as wickedness”

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“It was a position of no mean prestige, and of considerable activity.”
― Kathleen Winsor, Forever Amber.

Not only that, but she’s spread her wings!

 

A Happy Amber today:

Tipped for Greater things!

Amber Plans to build on her past successes!

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 25, 2019 at 10:00 am

Amber Rudd Pleads for a Job as New Report Slams Universal Credit – Again.

with 37 comments

Job Hungry Amber Pulls the Other One, Bells and All!

The Currant Bun reported.

Boris was asked about who he wanted to win ITV’s Love Island.

He joked that the Work and Pensions secretary Amber Rudd should go home with £50k after audience members clamoured for ‘Amber’ to win.

When asked if he had been watching the show, he said: “I have been watching it very dimly.

“Seems to involve these people with very few clothes on.”

He then asked the audience who they think should win – with dozens of onlookers shouting ‘Amber’ in reply.

He replied: “Amber? Amber is in Love Island!”

But leadership rival Jeremy Hunt said: “I don’t know, I don’t watch it.”

For the moment Amber is Pleading, Gizza Job! I can do that!

Back to Universal Credit:

Universal Credit ‘lobster pot’ leaving claimants out of pocket without warning, MPs warn

Politics Home.

In a new report, the cross-party Work and Pensions Committee found confusion among DWP advisers over when claimants should move over to the new benefit, with some recipients facing a steep drop in income if they make the switchover.

Universal Credit aims to roll six existing working-age benefits into one payment, a move the Government says will simplify the welfare system and cut costs.

..

The DWP has pursued a policy of “managed migration” for those making the switch to the new system, with the policy aiming to ensure that claimants moving off of the older benefits get transitional payments so that they do not take an immediate financial hit.

But the MPs warned that there are no similar protections in place for those whose circumstances have changed and so are deemed to have undergone “natural migration” by the department.

And they said: “Understanding when existing benefit claimants will need to naturally migrate to UC is so complex, it baffles even experienced benefit advisers.”

The committee warned that claimants could end up out of pocket because of changes that do “not seem significant”, including moving house to a different local authority area or even suffering a bereavement.

“Losing a partner is classed as a change in circumstance — which means that claimants who have just lost their partner must immediately claim UC at a time of considerable grief and distress,” they said.

“We urge the Department instead to allow people who have lost their partner to remain on legacy benefits for a grace period of one year.”

The situation could also have “drastic consequences” for disabled claimants, the committee warned, with disabled adults and children among the groups “most likely to see their income fall when they move to UC via natural migration”.

They accused the DWP of failing to give “clear or comprehensive information” to its own staff on when exactly somebody might need to move to Universal Credit and how it would affect their income.

That meant claimants were left “at risk of moving to UC either inadvertently, not realising that they will lose out, or because they are given the wrong advice by DWP staff or other organisations”, they committee said.

From the Report Universal Credit: natural migration

27th Report from the Committee…. 

The Government has said repeatedly that once the roll-out of Universal Credit (UC) is complete, it will be more generous than the system it replaces. But it is not more generous for everyone. While some people are entitled to more money under UC than they would have received in the previous benefits system, many will be entitled to less.

Some of the Department’s plans for moving people to UC recognise that some claimants will be worse off. For instance, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP/the Department) plans to take a cautious approach to what it calls “managed migration”—the process of moving claimants on existing benefits to UC. It plans to provide claimants who move to UC in this way with transitional protection—payments to ensure they do not lose income overnight—and other support to minimise any stress or adverse effects of the move. This is, of course, welcome.

But the majority of claimants on existing benefits will move, or have already moved, to UC through a process known as “natural migration”, which usually happens when their circumstances change. For these claimants, there is no transitional protection. People naturally migrate to UC when they have a change in their lives which would require a new claim for a legacy benefit. There are a vast number of changes which can lead to natural migration. By contrast, there are very few which can end transitional protection under managed migration. This is because the Department deliberately selected the few circumstances in which to end transitional protection, whereas the natural migration process, by its own admission, was based on its own administrative needs. The Department has moved staff away from legacy benefits to Universal Credit and other roles, and says that the only way it can administer a change of circumstances is through the claimant making a new claim to Universal Credit.

The Department argues that it is fair that claimants who experience a “significant” change in their circumstances should not receive transitional protection, on the grounds that it has always been the case that new claims for legacy benefits would be assessed on a claimant’s new circumstances. It is difficult to reconcile this explanation, however, with the fact that the design of UC—which, unlike the legacy system, now represents all, or the majority, of a claimant’s income—means that any change in a claimant’s circumstances exposes them to all aspects of UC, which may be less generous than the legacy system and which may not be related to their specific change. For example, a disabled claimant who moves home could lose their disability premiums, even though their disability remains the same. What is more, the disparity between the changes that can lead to natural migration and those that can end transitional protection mean that some claimants will lose out simply because of when their circumstances change. Therefore, when managed migration begins, households with the same circumstances will be receiving different amounts of Universal Credit—not because their needs are different, but because of the route by which they moved to Universal Credit. This cannot be fair.

For claimants, some of the changes that can trigger this move will not seem significant. For example, moving house within the same local authority area does not trigger migration to Universal Credit—but moving to a different local authority does. That means in practice that someone who moves to a different local authority area loses their entitlement to transitional protection. The DWP justifies this purely by reference to its own administrative processes, with no mention of a claimant’s needs. The Government should commit to providing ongoing payments to meet the shortfall in income for all claimants who move or have moved to UC simply because they moved home outside of their local authority.

https://twitter.com/AmberRuddHR/status/1153368833744363520?s=20