Good evening


We explained, in our 15th January 2019 bulletin, how DWP had introduced a “Gateway” or “barrier to entry” to Universal Credit, applying to all legacy benefit claimants who had an ongoing entitlement to the £66.95 (weekly) Severe Disability Premium (SDP) in their Income Related JSA, ESA, Income Support. That Gateway is about to be removed from 27th January and has the potential for significant benefits loss for all those concerned, certainly in longer term.

The Gateway was introduced to prevent the discrimiantion and high level of benefits loss that had previously been experienced by tenants moving to Universal Credit, through “natural migration”. Many families had lost £180 pcm and more, during the migration process, as there was no Transitional Protection scheme available to offset their losses. With the assistance of Leigh Day solicitors, two single claimants’ were identified and their cases pursued by way of Judicial Review to the Court of Appeal.

The Court found that both had been unfairly discriminated against and should be compensated by DWP for the loss of their SDP which amounted to £180pcm in each case.

DWP subsequently agreed to the question of recompense. It also agreed that any claimant who applied for UC voluntarily or following the mistaken advice of DWP, the local Council or landlord, had to denied future access, and thus be allowed to continue claiming their “legacy benefits”, including Housing Benefit.

In several cases, my sharp-eyed Housing Association clients, identified tenants that managed to breach the Gateway, despite DWP’s “checks & balances” supposedly built into the system to prevent this from happening. In all cases, UC was later cancelled, and “legacy benefits” restored to their previous levels.

Changes to Gateway

From 27 January 2021, claimants who are currently in receipt of SDP or who have been entitled to an SDP in the previous month, will be able to claim UC, either through choice or when, for example, they move to a new council district, necessitating a claim for Universal Credit or when they are found unfit for work, having previously claimed JSA(IR).

Importantly, removing the Gateway does not mean that current SDP recipients need give up immediately their legacy award e.g., Income Support, JSA, ESA or indeed Housing Benefit. But if they do experience a material change in circumstances (as explained above) this will prompt the necessity for a UC claim.

Otherwise, at some point, in next few years, DWP will invite all remaining “Legacy Benefit” claimants to claim UC through the “Managed Migration” route.

Transitional Protection

For those still claiming legacy benefits, including the SDP element, at the point Managed Migration starts, each will receive a “Migration Notice” with a deadline date to claim Universal Credit. Assuming they make their claim in accordance with the deadline date or extension period, they should be covered by full Transitional Payments for actual loss experienced at the point of transition. In other words, under Managed Migration, the TP is not restricted to any SDP loss.

For those SDP recipients that claim UC after 27th January 2021 and up to the date Managed Migration starts, the amount of any Transitional Payments will be limited to the amount of the SDP loss.

In both cases, DWP will pay a transitional amount as part of the Universal Credit award, in the form of a “Transitional Element” which will be subject to erosion or, in some cases, complete loss (e.g. break of claim). Similarly, if there is a rent increase or someone’s Standard Allowance increases, these increases will have the effect of reducing or wiping out the Transitional Element.

If you require any further information of this, please email or phone 07733 080 389.

Bill Irvine

UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd