Open letter: ‘managed migration’ from ‘legacy benefits’ to Universal Credit

NSUN has signed an open letter alongside other UK charities to the Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), Thérèse Coffey, to demand that plans to restart ‘managed migration’ are immediately halted.

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

The DWP will be telling people that they have a three-month deadline to apply from when they have been notified, and if this is missed, their current benefit claim may be stopped. Anyone unable to engage with the process may be affected and could have their income stopped, with devastating and life-threatening consequences.

The full text of the open letter is pasted below.

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