Universal Credit was introduced back in 2013 with the aim of simplifying the welfare system by replacing six existing legacy benefits with one benefit, to be paid monthly in arrears. Unlike Income Support, Employment & Support Allowance and Jobseekers Allowance, Universal Credit can be paid regardless of the number of hours being worked, as payment is based upon monthly income.
The rollout was originally expected to be completed by 2017. The system, however has been beset by problems that has resulted in the rollout being delayed several times.
There is currently a pilot running in Harrogate to migrate existing claimants onto Universal Credit. The aim of this pilot is to identify and fix any problems and ensure full migration runs as smoothly as possible. The pilot is looking to migrate 10,000 claimants and once the pilot is complete, full rollout can begin. The Harrogate pilot started in July last year, and to date, the number transferred is only thirteen (13) claimants!!
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) minister Will Quince said the slow pace managed migration was a “rather deliberate” move.
“My clear instruction to officials was to take this slow and steady, and to go at the pace the claimant requires. I want us to ensure that we have the information necessary to roll out Universal Credit without leaving anybody behind. We have to get it right.”
Shadow work and pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood stated, “At this rate it will take over 380 years to complete a pilot of 10,000 successful claims as planned”.
There is a school of thought that the slow rate of transfer is to allow claimants to move over via natural migration (following a change of circumstances) which doesn’t bring transitional protection. These claimants will therefore lose out financially. The timetable for the end of managed migration has now been extended to 2024. Again, more people are expected to migrate naturally over the extended period.
Existing Tax Credit claimants need to be aware that following migration, capital above £16,000 will remove entitlement after the first 12 months.
For more information on welfare benefits, including Universal Credit, you can contact our Welfare Benefit Advisor, Phil Runciman, at firstname.lastname@example.org.