MP’s have challenged work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey this month about creating ‘two classes of claimants’ because those who are forced to migrate from ESA to universal credit before the annual uprating in April 2023 will be subject to a big cash hit.
Coffey, however, denied that she was concerned about it.
The exchanges came during Coffey’s meeting with the commons work and pensions committee last week.
Shaun Bailey MP raised the issue of transitional protection, because ESA claimants who are forced to migrate before the April uprating will lose out badly.
In effect, ESA claimants who migrate after the uprating will keep what is likely to be around a 9% increase in their benefits. However, claimant who migrate before that date will have any uprating deducted from their transitional protection, leaving them much worse off than claimants who migrate later.
Bailey told Coffey “Clearly, there is going to have to be some sort of discussion within the Department around transitional protection in light of this and the fact that you may effectively almost unintentionally create two classes of claimants as regard to their transition protection.”
However, Coffey was clearly unmoved by the loss that this group of claimants would experience. She responded that:
“It is not two classes of claimants. The policy is set. The transitional protection applies to the amount that you were receiving on this kind of benefits process; it is just you get at least the same on this new different system. At minimum, it is the same income.”
When asked if she would accept that this would lead to inequality, Coffey dismissed the issue, saying only that “I am not anticipating we will have lots of managed migration by April.”
In other words: does it really matter if a few thousand claimants are made much worse off as result of managed migration?
Clearly not to Therese Coffey.
The reality is that the uprating issue turns managed migration into a lottery, in which those who are drawn early lose out badly simply because luck was against them. Is that a responsible way to provide support to claimants who are already struggling desperately to cope with rising prices?