Charities including Mind, The Trussell Trust, Shelter and Disability Rights UK have written to Therese Coffey, secretary of state for the DWP, to ask her to pause the forced migration from legacy benefits such as ESA to universal credit. One charity has warned that the managed migration process is too dangerous to continue.
The DWP began piloting managed migration with 500 claimants today, having recently admitted that half a million income-related ESA claimants will be worse off as a result of the move. Once the pilot is over the forced move of 2.6 million claimants is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2024
In their letter the charities say:
“We believe that your approach for moving people receiving older benefits on to universal credit risks pushing many of them into destitution.
“We ask you to consider the devastating consequences for someone who faces challenges in engaging with the process having their only income cut off, especially during this cost-of-living crisis. No one subject to managed migration should have their existing benefit stopped until they have established a claim to universal credit. Instead of setting arbitrary deadlines, the DWP needs to take responsibility for ensuring people’s safety.”
The charities point out that according to the DWP’s own research 24% of claimants with long-term health conditions were unable to register a UC claim online.
Paul Farmer, Mind’s chief executive told the Guardian:
“Those too unwell to engage with the DWP could be left unable to pay their rent, buy food, or pay their rising energy bills. This is completely unacceptable.
“Mind – and many other charities representing people affected by health problems and poverty – is willing and able to help shape the managed migration process into one which is fit for purpose and which does not risk the financial security of hundreds of thousands of people. But as things stand, the managed migration process is too dangerous to continue.”
Sara Ogilvie, director of policy at the Child Poverty Action Group told the Guardian:
“The department must commit to fully trialling and publicly reporting on the managed migration process and it must ensure that no one loses their existing benefits until they have a new claim for universal credit securely established.”
In comments in response to the letter the DWP gave no indication that they intend to soften their stance on the forced move.
You can read the full story in the Guardian.