The Trussell Trust has called on the DWP to ensure that claimants are moved automatically from employment and support allowance (ESA) onto universal credit (UC) without a gap in payment.
The Trust is concerned that leaving claimants without a payment for five weeks when they transfer from benefits such as ESA to UC will cause real hardship.
Emma Revie, Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust, warned:
“As we look at the current plans for the next stage of Universal Credit, we’re really worried that our network of foodbanks could see a big increase in people needing help. Leaving three million people to wait at least five weeks for a first payment – especially when we have already decided they need support through our old benefits or tax credits system – is just not good enough.”
Foodbanks that have been in full UC rollout areas for a year or more have seen an increase of 52% in demand, compared to 13% where UC has not been fully rolled out.
The Trust is concerned not only at the five week wait, but also that claimants who “miss the deadline for application, could face having all their payments stopped”. It points out that a third of all those waiting to be moved via managed migration onto UC are claiming disability benefits and so are particularly in need of financial support.
Revie argues that:
“Now is the time for our Government to take responsibility for moving people currently on the old system over, and to ensure no one faces a gap in payments when that moves happens. Universal Credit needs to be ready for anyone who might need its help, and it needs to be ready before the next stage begins.”
You can read more and download a copy of the Trussell Trust report ‘The next stage of Universal Credit’.