As the forced (managed) migration from legacy benefits to universal credit (UC) begins this month, the DWP have finally released figures showing how many claimants will be worse off under UC. Half a million ESA claimants are expected to lose out. We’re asking Benefits and Work readers what questions and concerns they have about the move.
The forced migration of legacy benefits claimants starts on 9 May. Initially this will be just 500 claimants, as the DWP is still very obviously unclear about how they are going to manage to move 2.6 million claimants by their deadline of the end of 2014.
Just 38 claimants were moved onto UC during a pilot in Harrogate that was abandoned due to the pandemic.
Because that is the only experience the DWP have of ‘managed migration’ it is not surprising that they say that:
“We still need to finalise our approach, particularly for managed migration, and will undertake further work in some parts of the country, learning what support different claimants are likely to need in order to make a successful claim for UC.”
Figures in the Completing the move to universal credit report released this month show that 1.2 million ESA claimants will be making the move.
Of these, 600,000 are expected to be better off under UC. 100,000 will see no change.
But the DWP predict that 500,000 current ESA claimants will be worse off.
Of these, 400,000 ESA claimants will receive transitional protection, which should mean they do not see any reduction in their benefits to begin with. However, the value of this protection will be eroded every year because, with the exception of the childcare element, any annual increase in UC will be deducted from the transitional protection.
So migrated claimants will begin to be worse off within a year or less of making the move.
Some changes of circumstances will lead to the withdrawal of the transitional protection.
Amongst the people the DWP expect to be better off are ESA claimants who are in the support group but who do not get the severe disability payment.
Those who the DWP expect to be worse off include households who get ESA and receive the severe disability premium and the enhanced disability premium.
Benefits and Work already produces a detailed guide to the work capability assessment for UC to help claimants who qualify to move into the LCW and LCWRA groups.
We also have a guide to migration from ESA to UC.
Although we obviously can’t do anything about lost income, we are working on additional resources to help members with the transfer process. We’d really like to hear from you about what your concerns are and what questions you’d like answering.
Please leave your questions and suggestions in the comments section below or complete a Feedback form.
Additional note: benefits that will not be affected by the move to UC include:
- Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (cJSA)
- Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (cESA)