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Growing fears are being voiced by a wide range of authorities over the plan to migrate millions of employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants to universal credit (UC), beginning in July 2019.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan warned of a ‘significant threat of harm’ to vulnerable claimants if the transfer goes ahead.

Khan has made a submission to the Social Security Advisory Committee consultation on the issue. In it he argues that the introduction of UC has already caused “significant hardship” to claimants and adds that:

“Until now, these problems have only affected new claimants or those who have undergone a change of circumstance that has resulted in ‘natural migration’ to universal credit. The government’s proposed ‘managed migration’ of all remaining working-age benefit claimants next year poses a significant threat of harm being caused on a much larger scale if these issues are left unresolved.

“The most serious consequence of managed migration is that it will be the vulnerable who suffer the most.”

Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury added his voice to the growing chorus, telling the TUC conference in Manchester this month when asked about UC that:

“It was supposed to make it simpler and more efficient. It has not done that. It has left too many people worse off, putting them at risk of hunger, debt, rent arrears and food banks.

“When universal credit comes into a local area the number of people going to food banks goes up. What is clear is if they cannot get it right they need to stop rolling it out.”

Also earlier this month, the Resolution Foundation argued for a delay in rolling out UC any further, claiming that 1.8 million families will see their income drop when they move onto UC and that:

“Politicians in all parties have increasingly found cause to question the efficacy of persisting with the reform.”

The former chair of the Social Security Advisory Committee, Paul Gray, talking last month about the migration of existing claimants onto UC, said that:

“The chances of bringing it off successfully, and getting 100% compliance are ... well, let’s just call it very challenging. You are calling for a massive shift of behaviour and compliance in people who just haven’t been used to this.”

Gray agreed with mental health charity Mind, who have warned that many vulnerable claimants may be left without any income as a result of not managing to make an effective claim for UC.

All of these criticisms come in the wake of a damning report on UC by the National Audit Office in June of this year.

The NAO warned about the risk of hardship, explaining that:

“We spoke to local and national bodies that, together, work with a significant minority of claimants. They showed us evidence that many of these people have suffered difficulties and hardship during the rollout of the full service.”

There is no evidence at the moment that the government is prepared to listen to the ever increasing clamour of voices urging it to pause and put things right, before undertaking the mass migration of millions of claimants.

But, as the deadline draws near, and the political risks of cutting the incomes of potentially millions of people at a time when the economy may already be suffering from the shock of Brexit become more obvious, a postponement of the inevitable is still on the cards.

Comments  

#6 LewBoy 2018-09-22 16:10
I am currently on ESA and have been for the past 7 years due to numerous health problems both physical and mental. And additional ones or existing ones cropping up over that time. I am worried about how this is going to affect me, as the government seem to keep changing their mind about how it all works. I also get the EDP and SDP premiums in my ESA payment. I just wish they would scrap UC but i know that its more likely hell will freeze over before that happens. I suffer from severe Anxiety too and the fact the government keeps changing their mind every 5 minutes wont help me or anyone else in this situation. I just hope they dont make a mess of this like they have with everything else. I wish i didnt have to depend on state support but i am too ill and i know many others on here are in the same boat. Just waiting now to see how things pan out.!!
#5 Phillip Richards 2018-09-21 21:00
When my Wife lost her job and signed on we were told that we will be moved to UC! However they managed to put my wife on ESA and me as unemployed? I was in fact on ESA Support and Enhanced PIP both parts. My Wife then became my carer and We had to go to an interview at the JSC. Once their they still insisted that I have said I am not looking for work due to my disabilities and my wife was on ESA? After a number of months ringing them up to get paid it was changed. However my wife has now received a fine for a dental check up as she does not appear to be on any benefits! Even though she is being paid Carers allowance on UC?
#4 Lucy Miller 2018-09-20 11:22
Quoting fil501:
Does anyone know if the 'managed migration' will include having to make a fresh claim for UC (potentially followed by WCAs and tribunals), or will ESA claimants simply be transferred onto it?

I'm on ESA, I received a letter a couple of months ago from my council saying I'm in a UC area and that everyone on 'legacy' benefits will be asked to claim UC From July '19 to 2023. It says 'this is known as managed migration' so it sounds like it will be a new claim. I have no idea when it will happen or what happens about the WCA. This blog gives a good explanation of the situation at the moment: http://blogs.bath.ac.uk/iprblog/2018/07/09/universal-credit-managed-migration-the-next-big-challenge/ As far as appeals etc if you haven't gone through the managed migration process and you're found fit for work, and have to claim UC while waiting for the mandatory reconsideration etc, you'll lose the transitional protection meaning you won't get the disability element of your ESA so if that happens get advice before claiming it.
#3 fil501 2018-09-20 07:37
I concur regarding it being scrapped, or it at least needs some serious tweaking to make it fair. In its current form most people lose out. IRO of ESA to UC the SDP's will disappear for people in receipt of PIP Daily Living and Permitted Work allowances will be far less generous. I'm not looking forward to it one iota! The only thing UC has going for it is that all income from a lodger is disregarded.
#2 ThisGovernmentsGoneToFar 2018-09-19 18:09
Quoting fil501:
Does anyone know if the 'managed migration' will include having to make a fresh claim for UC (potentially followed by WCAs and tribunals), or will ESA claimants simply be transferred onto it?


Know one really knows.

At the moment the news that's going around is when you recieve a letter stating you must claim UC, they are giving you three months to change over from ESA?

But there has been a consultation regarding how this should be made easier for ESA to be transferred over automatically instead of going through that hassle. Still awaiting news of how it will be done.

Also to note if you've had a WCA done for ESA it will get carried over to UC, unless it's due then you will have another for UC.

To be honest many will suffer under UC and it needs to be scrapped NOW.
#1 fil501 2018-09-19 14:28
Does anyone know if the 'managed migration' will include having to make a fresh claim for UC (potentially followed by WCAs and tribunals), or will ESA claimants simply be transferred onto it?

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