Universal Credit- natural migration

The Work and Pensions Committee has launched a new inquiry into what the Government calls “natural migration”: the process by which people claiming existing benefits move onto Universal Credit if they have a change in their circumstances.

The deadline for submissions is 18 February 2019

Universal Credit has now been rolled out to every Jobcentre in the country. This means that if people who are already claiming benefits under the old system have a change in their circumstances (for example, if they form part of a new couple, or separate from an existing partner), they can’t make a new claim for the old benefits. Instead, they have to make a whole new claim for Universal Credit.

The Government calls this “natural migration” to Universal Credit. People who transfer onto Universal Credit in this way aren’t eligible for any transitional protection payments and so may see a change in their income from benefits. For many people, this may be the first time that they discover that their income will change under Universal Credit.

The Committee has heard concerns that:

  • the Government hasn’t given clear and comprehensive information about the “triggers” for “natural migration”
  • the absence of transitional protection means people might have to cope suddenly with a drop in income.

This is the latest stage in the Committee’s ongoing work on Universal Credit – which has already resulted in the Government making significant changes to the system.

In its November report on so-called “managed migration” – the process of wholesale moving existing benefit claimants onto Universal Credit even if their circumstances haven’t changed  - the Committee called on the Government to publish an assessment of the impact of a sudden loss of income due to natural migration on different claimant groups, and then to look again at whether the triggers for natural migration are appropriate. In its official response to that report, published today alongside this new inquiry launch (link special report under that text) the Government has refused to do that. 

The Chair has written back to the Secretary of State with a series of questions about the Government’s response:

The Committee is disappointed and concerned by the Government’s failure to engage with its report and reasoning behind key recommendations, and intends to return to several of them including, now, the “triggers” for natural migration. The Department declined, again, to set tests that it will meet before managed migration begins. “Given that we, the NAO and SSAC all made this recommendation, this continued resistance is very disappointing.”

The Committee would like to hear your views on the following questions, to inform this next phase of our work on Universal Credit.

You can respond as an individual, a group or an organisation. You don’t need to answer all of the questions.

  • Which groups of people stand to lose out most when they transfer to Universal Credit? What should the Government be doing to support those groups?
  • What does the lack of a comprehensive list of “triggers” that can transfer people to Universal Credit mean in practice for claimants and the groups who support them? Should the Government produce a full list?
  • Are the existing “triggers” for natural migration appropriate? If not, how should they be changed?
  • Has the Department for Work and Pensions done enough to help people to understand what changes in their circumstances might cause them to have to transfer to Universal Credit, and what that might mean for them? What more could it do?

Image: DWP

Latest news

News and other updates about the inquiry into Universal Credit - natural migration:

  • "DWP not engaging with expert calls for change to Universal Credit"