Government must delay vote on next phase of Universal Credit, says Committee

By agency reporter
November 23, 2018

The cross-party Work and Pensions Committee says the Government must delay the vote on the next phase of Universal Credit until both its own Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) and Parliament have had a chance to assess the Government's plans. The Committee concluded that despite changes announced in last month's budget, "major areas of concern" about the Government's plans remain.

The Committee, the National Audit Office and SSAC have all called on the Department to set tests for readiness that must be met before so-called 'managed migration' – the next phase of transferring existing benefits claimants onto Universal Credit – begins. The Committee says the Government's insistence that it will not do so until 2020 – a year after its managed migration pilot begins –"is simply not good enough: it must commit to setting the tests it will meet before the pilot begins. The tests, and an analysis of whether they have been met, should be published before managed migration moves to scale in 2020."

MPs on all sides of the House of Commons have pleaded with the Government not to go ahead with transferring claimants from existing benefits to the much-troubled Universal Credit until it can guarantee that every claimant will be migrated safely onto the new benefit and none will be left destitute.

The Committee is now calling on Government to:

  • Delay the vote on the new regulations that will set the procedures for moving claimants onto Universal Credit from existing benefits under managed migration, until MPs, Peers, and SSAC have been given a proper chance to assess these regulations
  • Extend 'run on' payments to all the benefits that Universal Credit will replace: not just Housing Benefit, Jobseeker's Allowance, and Employment and Support Allowance.
  • Eliminate the five week wait for the first Universal Credit payment for claimants who are being 'managed' migrated
  • Use its existing data on claimants automatically to move them onto Universal Credit, wherever this is possible.

Frank Field MP, Chair of the Committee, said: "The Committee’s main proposals seek to ensure that the risk of moving claimants from the old system of benefits onto Universal Credit lies with the Government and not on the shoulders of poorer people.

"The Government is thankfully making and then remaking its policy on how best to transfer existing claimants onto Universal Credit. It would be a pity if the Government undermined this new way of thinking by not giving Parliament and SSAC enough time to comment on its latest changes before it pushes Parliament into a vote."

* Work and Pensions Committee https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/

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