The managed migration process proposed by draft regulations places too much risk of financial loss on claimants, rather than government. The DWP must do more to demonstrate that systems and processes are ready for the millions of claimants who will need to transfer to Universal Credit.
Without reducing this risk and ensuring the process has better checks in place, many families face significant losses if they fall through the gaps.
As a minimum, we call for:
- A slower timetable: The government must consider a slower timetable to continue a genuine a ‘test and learn’ process, learning from the migration to tax credits and more recent experience of Universal Credit roll-out.
- Better safeguards: Given the high risk of claimants not managing to claim within the tight timeframe proposed, the DWP should allow broader grounds for extending the notification period and backdating payments, and a run-on for legacy benefit payments (not just for housing benefit).
- More robust support: The DWP must ensure support systems (eg to manage claims) are fit for purpose before migrating claimants. The DWP should also be proactive in raising awareness about upcoming changes and available support, and allow appropriate exceptions and support for single parents who will face significantly different rules (eg to seek work, or meet the Minimum Income Floor if self-employed).