THE Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is in the process of moving people claiming older ‘legacy’ benefits to Universal Crdit (UC) through managed migration. Claimants are sent a ‘migration notice’ informing them that they have three months to claim UC, after which their legacy benefits will be terminated.

DWP figures published on 14 May show that the proportion of tax credit claimants not moving to universal credit when required to – and losing all of their benefits as a result – has jumped to 39 per cent, up from 25 per cent in July. That is more than 180,000 people whose ‘legacy benefit’ claim has been terminated without safely making the move to UC.

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) says the increase is truly alarming and evidence that the department is ignoring strong warnings, including recently from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), that vulnerable claimants are at risk of falling between the cracks unless more support is put in place to help them switch to UC. Despite the exceptionally high ‘no-claim’ rate, the department plans to rapidly proceed with its ‘managed migration’ to UC programme, requiring the most vulnerable claimants to make the move and accelerating its plans to send ‘migration notices’ to sick and disabled claimants.

Chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group Alison Garnham said: “Today’s ‘no-claim’ figures are truly alarming. Claimants are losing money they need while the DWP buries its head in the sand. The department must slow down the managed migration to UC and put in place robust support mechanisms that will enable people to move safely to UC. Without action from the DWP this is a disaster in-the-making.

A PAC report on UC published in April warned that “…if the transition from legacy benefits to UC fails even an apparently small proportion of people, it will lead to real world misery for thousands. The DWP must make sure that people are not cast into financial hardship due to a bureaucratic change, and that robust support is in place for those vulnerable claimants who need it most”.

In February this year a National Audit Office report warned that the DWP has little evidence to show that people are making informed decision when they do not migrate to UC. It warned: “…DWP is on track to move legacy benefit claimants to Universal Credit. But it needs to be sure people who have not switched to Universal Credit are receiving the benefits to which they are entitled.”

The DWP has carried out a survey to understand the high non-move rate but has yet to produce any findings from that work.

* Read the Public Accounts Committee report here.

* Read the National Audit Office report here.

* Source: Child Poverty Action Group