Good afternoon

DWP has just recently published its DRAFT Universal Credit (Managed Migration) Regulations 2018, the full details of which can be found here:

The Government’s proposals, explained in the associated “Explanatory Note”, are quite varied & detailed, so, for the purposes of this note, I’ll focus mainly on the proposed process of migrating existing legacy benefit (JSA (IB), ESA (IR), Income Support, Tax Credits & Housing Benefits) onto Universal Credit and mention a few of the related measures.

It’s anticipated around 3 million more households will be added during the “managed” process, with another 3 million being added, through “natural migration” i.e. new claims, changes in circumstances etc. – part of the current ongoing process.

DWP intends sending a “Migration Notice”, most probably, in the spring of 2020, giving each “notified person” 3 months notice of its intention to cancel their existing means-tested benefits, whilst, at the same time, inviting a new claim for Universal Credit. The notice will provide a “deadline date”- let’s say for the purposes of this note, that’s 10th July 2020. So, by no later than 10th July their new claim for Universal Credit must be claimed. Assuming the claimant makes their UC claim on that date or beforehand, their existing benefits will end the day before the UC claim is made.

In the event your tenant doesn’t make their claim for Universal Credit by 10th July 2020 their legacy benefit(s) will still end on the 9th of July. However, if your tenant submits his/her UC claim by 9th August the “final deadline date”, the UC claim will be backdated to 10th July automatically, creating the first Benefit Assessment Period (BAP).

Also, at the point of the UC award being made, DWP should compare, the level of the new UC award with what previously had been payable under the legacy benefit. If the legacy award, calculated on a calendar monthly basis, is greater, DWP will apply a sum for the difference, in the form of “Transitional Protection”, which will appear in the UC payment “breakdown” as a separate “element”. As the name suggests, TPs have a limited shelf-life; often have the effect of freezing the value of the award for years; and, may, in some cases, be reduced or lost, due to a change in the claimant’s personal or houshold circumstances. UC has some important safeguard provisions built in to protect TP.

Separately, you’ll recall, the Government introducing a 2 week Housing Benefit run-on date from 11th April 2018, so that when a tenant claims UC for the first time only, his/her existing HB award ends, the day before his UC starts, but the administering Council should also award a 2 week run-on as an extra payment. The Government also intends, with effect from 22nd July 2020, to award a further 2 week run-on in relation to awards of JSA(IB), ESA(IR), Income Support, following an associated claim for UC or by default, through the automatic termination of the exisiting legacy claim on the “deadline date”.

Again, similar to what happens with the HB run-on, the amount of award will be based on the amount payable immediately before claiming UC. Run-on payments are disregarded as unearned income for UC purposes so will not reduce the first UC payment. The payment is intended to provide claimants with additional financial support until they receive their first payment of UC at least 5 weeks later.

As I’ve repeatedly said, this stage in the Migration process will be the most challenging for DWP, claimants and landlords alike, so make sure your staff are well briefed on these measures. I would recommend you sharing this crtically important piece of draft legislation and associated note with to your Housing Management, Welfare Rights, Financial Inclusion and Money Advice staff.

Otherwise, if you have any queries about this bulletin please email or 07733 080 389.

Bill Irvine

UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd.