DWP’s “Touchbase” publication, dated 24th July, confirmed the introduction of a 2-week run-on payment, from 22nd July 2020 for those “Legacy” benefit claimants who “naturally” migrate to Universal Credit from JSA, ESA and Income Support. This payment is quite separate and in addition to the run-on of Housing Benefit, introduced in April 2018.

The news item explains:

“This means if someone’s existing claim of income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Income Support ends due to them applying for Universal Credit they will now receive a new, additional payment, worth up to two weeks of their legacy award.

The one-time run-on payment does not need to be paid back and will be paid automatically to eligible claimants when they claim Universal Credit for the first time. It will not affect the amount of Universal Credit they receive.

Run-on payments will also be made for other premiums claimants have been receiving prior to moving over to Universal Credit, including Enhanced Disability Premium, carer premium or ESA work-related activity component.”

This latest development was not caused by COVID 19. It was planned as far back as 2018 as part of the “Managed Migration” package of measures and was intended to soften the initial blow of transitioning to Universal Credit for those claimants who were effectively being forced over, rather than through a “change in their circumstances”. It was also hoped making this payment would reduce the need for “Advance Payments” which are considered loans and need to be repaid within 12 months.

Importantly, under Managed Migration those migrating were also covered by Transitional Payments to ensure they didn’t lose out financially through the move. As the plans for Managed Migration have seemingly been pushed back again, anyone moving between now and Managed Migration kicks in, will NOT be protected in the event their UC is paid at a lower rate than their legacy award.

Nevertheless, some legacy benefit claimants could be tempted by the thought of receiving the additional run-ons for both their JSA or ESA or Income Support and Housing Benefit, plus the higher standard allowances paid under Universal Credit. But they need to tread warily. Whilst moving now might indeed be beneficial, it could just as easily, cost them dearly in the longer term, particularly where they currently receive additional “premiums” in their legacy awards.

Consequently, it’s probably best to refer them to Welfare Rights, Money Advice, CAB or similar organisations, who can quickly do a “better-off” calculation, as this would allow them to make an informed decision.

If you require any further information of this or any other welfare reform topic, please contact me bill@ucadvice.co.uk or 07733 080 389.

Bill Irvine

UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd