Leading Charities unite to tell UK Government to halt managed migration
Charities from across the UK have warned the Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), Thérèse Coffey, that plans to restart ‘managed migration’ today must immediately be halted. In an open letter, the coalition of charities urge the DWP to stop the process due to the risk of cutting off people’s incomes.
‘Managed migration’ is the process the DWP are 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 on 9 May, people receiving these benefits will gradually be asked to move to Universal Credit by 2024.
The DWP plans 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 potentially affects 2.6 million people, including 700,000 people with mental health problems, learning disabilities and dementia receiving income-based ESA. Those unable to engage with the process, for example because they are in hospital, risk being left with no income at all.
Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, and other signatories are calling on the DWP to take responsibility for supporting people through a system that its own research has shown to be difficult to navigate. The DWP’s own 2018 research with people making a claim to Universal Credit for the first time showed that of people with long-term health conditions:
• 24% could not register a claim online
• Only 57% were confident in managing their payments
• 53% said they needed more support setting up their claim and 38% said they needed more ongoing support
While the DWP will initially only migrate 500 people across to Universal Credit in a ‘discovery phase,’ Mind is highlighting that using 500 people as guinea pigs for whether a system can potentially cause financial destitution is unacceptable. The consequences of being left without any support from benefits can be devastating and life-threatening.
Mind and 21 other charities are demanding that the UK Government halt the process unless they 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 enables people who face challenges to get the support they need and avoid penalising people based on arbitrary deadlines.
The full text of the letter is readable below.
Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, said:
“The DWP’s managed migration plans could leave people with mental health problems with no income. Those too unwell to engage with the DWP could be left unable to pay their rent, buy food, or pay their rising energy bills. During a cost-of-living crisis, this could put the entire incomes of over 700,000 people with mental health problems, learning disabilities and dementia at risk. This is completely unacceptable.
“The DWP should halt this process, until they can guarantee they will not stop anyone’s old benefits until they have successfully made a claim to Universal Credit. The DWP must also take responsibility for supporting people through a complicated system that its own research has shown to be difficult to navigate.
“Mind – and many other charities representing people affected by health problems and poverty – is willing and able to help shape the managed migration process into one which is fit for purpose and which does not risk the financial security of hundreds of thousands of people. But as things stand, the managed migration process is too dangerous to continue.”
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.
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