Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that legacy benefit claimants do not have their support terminated before moving to Universal Credit.
It is a fundamental principle of social security in the United Kingdom that people need to make a claim for benefits. For those already in receipt of benefits, Parliament made it clear, though its passage of the Welfare Reform Act 2012, that entitlement to those benefits would cease as Universal Credit (UC) was implemented.
The Department provides a range of support to individuals, to assist them during migration including a dedicated DWP telephone line and signposting to independent support through the Help to Claim service. Help to Claim is an independent service and is available to those moving from legacy benefits because of managed migration, voluntary moves, or a change of circumstances.
The Migration Notice is the key way in which we initially communicate with legacy benefit claimants to inform them of the requirement to migrate to UC within 3 months. However, we also provide a reminder after 7 weeks and at week 10. If claimants haven’t made a claim for UC and after the 3 month period, on a case by case basis, there is a grace period of 1 month within which a tax credit claimant can make a claim for UC without losing eligibility for transitional protection.
Terminating benefits is our last resort. If a claimant does not claim by their extended deadline, they will be notified that their current benefit(s) will be terminated, unless they have significant support needs requiring a further extension. For those claimants who require significant support, we hold case conferences with Advanced Customer Support Senior Leaders who provide local expertise, working with different organisations to take a multi-agency approach. Where a claimant’s legacy benefit(s) has been terminated and they make a claim to UC within one month, their claim can be backdated to their deadline date and still be awarded Transitional Protection where applicable.