Good morning

Amber Rudd, Secretary of State, Work & Pensions made a statement to Parliament yesterday confirming the commencement of the Harrogate (Managed Migration) Pilot; and announced the go ahead of the compensation scheme for claimants who previously qualified for Severe Disability Premium (SDP) who transferred to Universal Credit, prior to 16th January 2019 (when the SDP Gateway was introduced) without any Transitional Protection (TP).

In her statement she explained: “Managed migration involves moving claimants who are still on legacy benefits, and whose circumstances have not changed, across to universal credit. The pilot will give colleagues and claimants confidence in the Department’s approach to the transition before we return to the House to report on progress and seek permission to extend managed migration.”

The Harrogate Pilot involves no more than 10,000 cases. DWP is seeking volunteers; no one will be compelled to claim and those that do will receive extra support, in the form of Housing Benefit and JSA/Income Support/ESA run-ons for two weeks as well as being able to access Advance Payments.

DWP claims it’s hoping to “learn from putting processes into practice, and to adapt our approach accordingly”. However, by its own admission, is adding 100,000+ “new claims” every month. None of these claimants will benefit from Transitional Payments. Many are current Jobseekers who have been persuaded to claim Universal Credit, despite having experienced no change in circumstances. So, it’s difficult to envisage what, if anything, DWP and the Minister, will learn from the Harrogate Pilot that they don’t already know – having already transitioned 2 million claimants!

From 24 July 2019, ex SDP recipients, who transitioned to UC, without TP, and lost significant monthly sums in the process, will be re-examined with a view to making a lump sum compensatory payment, to reflect at least some of their loss. In addition, they will also receive ongoing Transitional Payments in recognition of their previous SDP entitlement. The TP will be paid and be seen as a separate element, in their overall UC award. Disappointedly, the TP will be capped at a maximum of £405 per month i.e. less than their actual “legacy claims” loss.  The good news is, DWP staff are to start the process immediately and are charged with ensuring payment is made – “at the earliest opportunity”.​ If you have any cases that could benefit, I would recommend you encouraging the tenant(s) to request a review in their online journal.

Lastly, current SDP recipients who have been prevented (through the 16th January Gateway) from claiming Universal Credit will continue to be held on legacy benefits. However, from 2021, the Gateway or barrier to entry will be removed, allowing the individuals to move to Universal Credit through natural migration (change of circumstances) with the expectation that the exercise will still completed by December 2023.

Ms Rudd ended her statement with several promises:

  1. DWP will continue to identify areas for improvement and seeking new ways to give better support to claimants; and
  2. We will be evaluating the possibility of offering claimants more frequent benefit payments on demand.
  3. The launch of a new service (presumably the promised Portal) enabling Private Sector landlords to receive rent payments directly from the Department.

If you require any further information or clarification, please contact me.

Bill Irvine

UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd

July 2019