Claimants in receipt of the severe disability premium (SDP) will not be moved onto universal credit (UC) by natural migration if they have a change of circumstances, Alok Sharma Minister of State for Employment confirmed last week. Regulations to this effect will be introduced this week, protecting claimants from losing their premium.
In a written statement, Sharma said that a new statutory instrument which does not require a vote:
“prevents legacy claimants who are in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium from moving naturally to Universal Credit and allows them to continue to claim legacy benefits until they are moved over as part of the managed migration process. We committed to bringing this important extra protection into force on 16 January and this provision ensures that we will meet that commitment.”
The change in regulations follows on from a court defeat for the DWP in June 2018.
The High Court found that it was unlawful for the DWP to drastically cut the income of two claimants, TP and AR, when they transferred to UC from ESA.
Both claimants were in receipt of the severe disability premium (SDP) and enhanced disability premium when claiming ESA.
However, because they moved to a different local authority are they were obliged to claim UC instead.
As a result both claimants were worse off by almost £180 a month because the severe disability premium does not exist in UC.
The DWP are providing transitional protection to claimants who are moved from ESA to UC via a ‘managed migration process’ beginning in July 2019, so that their income will not immediately drop.
But claimants who have a change of circumstance, such as moving from one local authority area to another - natural migration - before July 2019 begins previously received no such protection.
The latest change in the regulations means that claimants who get the severe disability premium will now only be transferred to universal credit by means of managed migration, with the result that they will qualify for transitional protection and will not have their income reduced.
You can read Sharma’s full statement here.