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Managed migration to Universal Credit – mind the gaps!

Managed migration. It’s not what you might think but an important change to the benefits system. The process of requiring people to apply for universal credit in place of existing benefits will soon be complete.

Until now anyone claiming these ‘legacy’ benefits had to ‘migrate’ to universal credit only if their circumstances changed. (They could choose to do so if they thought it would be in their interests.) Now in its final stages, the requirement ‘roll-out’ finally reaches Surrey.

Universal credit is due to replace these ‘legacy’ benefits by September 2025.
managed migration
We are making extensive use of social media to publicise the move to universal credit.

Starting with tax credits and moving through the other benefits the DWP hopes to inform everyone involved by September. By April 2025 they expect to have achieved full migration. 

At CAEE we are ready to help local people facing problems. In recent months we have been highlighting the change to clients and the public in social and other media.

If you are aware of anyone impacted or worried by the UC migration please ask them to contact us. Find out more here.

At Citizens Advice we want universal credit to succeed.

From its introduction in 2013 there have been many problems. Reform was essential but the project ambitious and complex. Over the years the department, has fought many fires and resolved many issues but new ones still lie in wait.

Policy gaps

Researchers at national Citizens Advice have identified 5 areas* where policy still looks deficient.

  1. Fewer people than expected are claiming universal credit.
    Since compulsory migration began around 25% of people leaving legacy benefits have not claimed universal credit. The government is expecting to save around £1 billion a year as a result but instead should be trying to understand why thousands of households are missing out on support they are entitled to.
  2. Claimants with vulnerabilities may need more support.
    Many with complex needs may not be able to claim at all. They may lack digital skills or devices for instance. Age-profiles seem to support this: no-claim rates are 20% for people in their 30s, 22% in their 40s, but 32% aged 60 or over.
  3. Some people are missing out on transitional protection.
    It seems some people thought early information from the department was telling them to make their claim before being officially called to do so. But claiming too early means missing out the transitional element of universal credit designed to ensure claimants initially receive payments equivalent to their legacy benefit.
  4. Many new claimants will start off in debt due to the standard universal credit 5-week wait.
    Most new universal credit claimants take out a loan to tide them over the (justly) much-criticised 5-week wait for first payment. Migrants will still be subject to this delay and are likely to take out a benefit transfer loan and to starting universal credit life in debt.
  5. Managed migration will create overpayment debts for many people.
    Benefit deductions for debt repayments are a major source of difficulty for some people. Too often the cause is benefit overpayment as as claimants switch away from legacy benefits to universal credit.

Universal credit roll-out has a long history of problems. And is still causing them for government and claimants. The core social security benefit will likely always provoke debate (and perhaps it’s right that it should). But a failure to look urgently at these 5 specific issues with managed migration would be an an avoidable own goal.

Our 5 concerns about migrating people to universal credit, Citizens Advice Blog, 23/04/24

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