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Govt accepts most of SSAC managed migration recommendations

07 November 2018

Government responds to SSAC recommendations on the draft regulations for moving claimants on to Universal Credit - and also publishes revised regulations.

Read SSAC report and government statement

SSAC recommendations

The Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) say that in examining the DWP’s proposals it considered the following four questions:

  • is it deliverable – is it likely to work or would it be too complex or unwieldy?

  • is it explicable – will those affected understand it and what they must do?

  • is it proportionate to the problem it is trying to solve?

  • is it fair – for example, does it impose disproportionate burdens on particular groups of people?

As a result, the SSAC made 12 recommendations focussed on those aspects of the proposals that did not meet the above criteria.

In doing so, it called on the government to undertake a rigorous and transparent assessment of its operational readiness – including the potential impact on different groups of claimants – and to engage delivery partners and claimants in developing its detailed delivery plans and communications.

It also makes clear that the responsibility for ensuring that claimants are moved safely onto Universal Credit rests with the government.

The SSAC also welcome the Chancellor’s Budget announcement that claimants not in work who are currently reliant on fortnightly benefits will receive a two-week run on of their benefit.

Chair if the SSAC Professor Sir Ian Diamond, said:

“It was clear that there were steps that the government could, and should, have been taking in preparing for managed migration that would reduce the risk to claimants. We are pleased that the government has largely accepted our advice – in particular by introducing a two week run of payments to out of work claimants to bridge the gap before Universal Credit is paid, by taking more time over the testing phase, by ensuring those whose claim is late or who make a mistake in their initial claim don’t lose protections, and by agreeing to publish operational readiness tests which have to be met before the main migration begins.”

However, he added that:

“We are disappointed that the DWP continue to expect that everyone must make a claim to Universal Credit in order to be migrated to it. And we remain concerned about the degree to which the department will in practice demonstrate the openness and flexibility to which they have committed.”

Liz Sayce the SSAC’s Vice-Chair and previous DR UK CEO said:

“The department estimates that at least one-third of this group will be disabled people currently dependent on Employment and Support Allowance. Many with, for instance, serious health conditions or learning difficulties will struggle to complete a claim online.

We welcome the government’s commitment to ensure that disabled people are supported through the claims process, including taking claims during home visits and over the telephone, and we are keen to work with the department on the detail of these plans to ensure they work well for all disabled people.”

Government Response to the SSAC

In addition to its response to the Social Security Advisory Committee’s (SSAC) report on its managed migration to Universal Credit proposals, the government has published a revised set of draft Universal Credit (Managed Migration) Regulations 2018.

The Government says that it accepts most of the Committee’s recommendations, either in full or 'in principle', and that:

“We are committed to delivering managed migration in a way which supports claimants. In 2019, and in line with our Test and Learn approach, we will test and refine our approach with a very small number of claimants from July 2019 to check that it is working well, before we take on larger volumes in 2020. We will complete the managed migration process by the end of 2023.

… As a result, we will begin in July 2019 with small-scale testing to ensure that the processes work well before the volume of managed migration increases. No more than 10,000 people will be migrated during the testing period.”

It then adds that it “will work with stakeholders to co-design the migration processes in order to ensure that we have listened and understood claimant’s experiences”.

And, so it can take into account the learning and adaptations made following the testing phase, the Government it will publish an assessment of the impacts of managed migration prior to increasing the scaling of managed migration.

Rejecting the automatic transfer of claimants to Universal Credit, the Government says that it will use existing decisions or verification to make aspects of the process easier. For example, if a claimant has an existing Work Capability Assessment decision, they will not be required to have another assessment in order to get the disability elements of Universal Credit.

But outside of this, the Government says that it will be crucial that new claims are made to Universal Credit because we need to ensure data is as accurate and as up-to-date as possible when claimants move to Universal Credit.

Revised Universal Credit (Managed Migration) Regulations 2018

Revised regulations amend the Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014 including provision to:

  • introduce the process existing benefit claimants will follow when they are managed migrated to Universal Credit (UC) by the Department (DWP);

  • provide for payments to cover the gap between existing DWP benefits ending and the first payment of UC;

  • allow for transitional protection (TP) to be considered, calculated, paid and administered for existing benefit claimants who, upon managed migration, would have a lower entitlement to UC than their total existing benefit awards;

  • make provision so claimants who are receiving an existing benefit and are also in education, can meet the UC entitlement conditions when they manage migrate to UC;

  • introduce a ‘Gateway Condition’ so that claimants who are receiving income related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA(IR)), income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA(IB), Income Support (IS) or Housing Benefit (HB) with a Severe Disability Premium (SDP) included in their award will not claim UC if they need to make a new claim for support, but will remain on existing benefits; and

  • introduce ‘SDP transitional payments’ for those eligible claimants who have already lost the SDP as a result of moving to UC through natural migration by providing an ongoing monthly payment, and an additional lump-sum payment to cover the period since they moved.