Leading charities unite to tell UK Government to halt managed migration

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Today we have joined forces with charities across the UK to ask the Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Thérèse Coffey, to stop plans to restart ‘managed migration’. 

In an open letter, alongside 21 other charities, including Mind, we urge the DWP to stop the process due to the risk of cutting off people’s incomes.

What is managed migration?

‘Managed migration’ is the process the DWP is using to transfer people on ‘legacy benefits,’ such as income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Jobseekers Allowance, across to the Universal Credit system. Starting today (9 May 2022) people receiving these benefits will gradually be asked to move to Universal Credit by 2024.

What is the DWP advising?

The DWP will begin to tell people they have a three-month deadline to apply for Universal Credit. If they don’t apply within this deadline, the DWP will be able to stop their current benefit claim, regardless of their circumstances. This will start with pilot of 500 people, before being rolled out nationally.

How will this affect people with long-term health conditions such as cystic fibrosis?

This could affect up to 2.6 million people, including people with CF and their carers who claim benefits. Those unable to engage with the process, for example because they are in hospital, risk being left with no income at all.

Together, we are calling on the DWP to take responsibility for supporting people through a system that even its own research has shown to be difficult to navigate. In 2018, the DWP’s  research into people making a claim to Universal Credit for the first time showed that  53% of people with long-term health conditions said they would need more support setting up their claim, while almost a quarter could not register a claim online.

What are we calling for?

We are demanding that the UK Government halts the process unless it can guarantee that no-one’s benefits are stopped until they have established a claim to Universal Credit. The DWP must prioritise safety by providing proactive support that allows those who face challenges to get the support they need and avoid penalising people based on arbitrary deadlines.

We are calling for the Department for Work and Pensions to re-evaluate the deadlines imposed by the current plan of managed migration. The cost of living crisis means it is even more important that there is no disruption to benefit income that people with cystic fibrosis and their families rely on.

Clare Corbett, Director of External Affairs at Cystic Fibrosis Trust

If you’re concerned about this or need advice, contact our helpline at helpline@cysticfibrosis.org.uk or call 0300 373 1000 to speak to one of our friendly advisors.

Letter to Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions:

Dear Thérèse

We are writing as a group of organisations who are gravely concerned about the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) plans for Universal Credit managed migration starting today. We believe that your approach for moving people receiving older benefits onto Universal Credit risks pushing many of them into destitution.

We ask you to consider the devastating consequences for someone who faces challenges in engaging with the process having their only income cut off, especially during this cost-of-living crisis.

No-one subject to managed migration should have their existing benefit stopped until they have established a claim to Universal Credit. Instead of setting arbitrary deadlines, the DWP needs to take responsibility for ensuring people’s safety. You must provide proactive support that enables people who face challenges, including many disabled people and people with mental health problems, to establish their claim to Universal Credit.

We urge you to refocus on supporting people by creating and communicating a clear safeguarding process. We ask you to pause your approach until you have addressed these risks, and commit to completing a thorough trial of the process and putting the outcomes to parliament for scrutiny.

Yours sincerely,

  • Paul Farmer, Chief Executive, Mind
  • Sarah Hughes, Chief Executive, Centre for Mental Health
  • Gavin Smart, CEO, Chartered Institute of Housing
  • Alison Garnham, Chief Executive, Child Poverty Action Group
  • David Ramsden, Chief Executive, Cystic Fibrosis Trust
  • Geoff Fimister, Policy Co-Chair, Disability Benefits Consortium
  • Kamran Mallick, CEO, Disability Rights UK
  • Thomas Lawson, Chief Executive, Turn2Us
  • Victoria Benson, Chief Executive, Gingerbread
  • Mark Rowland, Chief Executive, Mental Health Foundation
  • Helen Undy, CEO, Money and Mental Health Policy Institute
  • Akiko Hart, CEO, National Survivor User Network
  • Sean Duggan, CEO, NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network
  • Laura Cockram, Head of Policy and Campaigning, Parkinson’s UK
  • Mark Winstanley, Chief Executive, Rethink Mental Illness
  • Jo Anderson, Director of Influence and Change, SAMH
  • Richard Kramer, CEO, Sense
  • Polly Neate, Chief Executive, Shelter
  • Emma Revie, Chief Executive, The Trussell Trust
  • Mary-Ann Stephenson, Director, Women’s Budget Group
  • Tom Madders, Director of Communications and Campaigns, Young Minds
  • Anela Anwar, CEO, Z2K

 

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