New Universal Credit regulations 'a missed opportunity for reducing risk to claimants'

By agency reporter
November 6, 2018

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has welcomed some of the changes to draft regulations governing the  migration of people on existing benefits to universal credit, but warns that the DWP has passed up an opportunity to reduce the risk that claimants will be left with no money if their existing benefits are stopped before their universal credit claim is up and running.

The Social Security Advisory Committee, CPAG and other organisations recommended that existing benefit claimants should be moved to universal credit automatically so that the responsibility for ensuring people don’t have income gaps lies firmly with the DWP.  

 CPAG Chief Executive Alison Garnham welcomed:

  • The new minimum three-month period to claim universal credit successfully
  • The change whereby people whose initial universal credit claim is defective, but who then successfully claim within the deadline, will now qualify for transitional protection against losses when they move to universal credit
  • Automatic backdating for people who claim within  a month of their first deadline
  • Transitional protection for claimants in temporary and specified accommodation

Commenting on the revised regulations, Ms Garnham said: “There is some good news in the revised regulations including the decision to give people a bit more time to claim universal credit but it’s really disappointing that the Government has rejected the argument made by so many organisations for moving people on existing benefits over to universal credit automatically.    

"The plan is to move  two million people to universal credit through managed migration yet currently one in five claims for universal credit fails because something goes wrong. If that failure rate  persists into managed migration, 400 000 households will be at risk of losing all their social security payments – which for some will mean having literally no money.

“It is the government’s responsibility to ensure benefit recipients are not left in hardship as a result of managed migration but move to universal credit smoothly and safely without income gaps. The  DWP could achieve that by setting up an automatic migration process with protections in law to ensure no existing benefit claim is closed until a successful universal credit claim is established.  We sincerely hope the Department will not foreclose on that  option so that no one moving over to universal credit is left high and dry.”

* Child Poverty Action Group http://www.cpag.org.uk/

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