DWP set to deny over 100,000 people benefits

  • Post last modified:May 9, 2024
  • Reading time:6 mins read

In its rush to scrap old-style benefits, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is potentially set to strip over 100,000 people of their vital social security. This is because of its so-called ‘managed migration’ process.

Specifically, the DWP has recently announced that it is moving up its timetable for its Universal Credit so-called “managed migration”. The roll-out is forcing those on legacy benefits like Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Tax Credits to shift over to Universal Credit.

Previously, the DWP planned to complete this by 2028. Now, it has brought this forward in a bid to cut costs. In particular, it intends to notify all old-style benefit claimants by December 2025.

Of course, the new timetable raises serious concerns that many claimants could lose out. This is because, to date, the department’s own statistics show it has already been callously denying Universal Credit to tens of thousands of legacy benefit claimants.

Universal Credit chaos: DWP denying people benefits

As the Canary’s Steve Topple has previously reported, the DWP has already stopped benefits for tens of thousands of claimants.

First, in August 2023, he found that the DWP had denied benefits to 24% of claimants it was forcing to move to Universal Credit. This specifically applied to those it had shifted between July 2022 and March 2023. Notably, Topple identified that this disproportionately impacted women. In particular, women accounted for 79% of those losing out.

Then, in March 2024, Topple found that the DWP’s new data showed that the DWP had stopped benefits for around 20.3% of people. This referred to those it had sent migration notices to up to September 2023. It meant that 31,720 people no longer received state support. Again, women were the worst affected, shooting up to 82.9% of these cases.

The majority of these, in both cases, were people previously claiming Tax Credits.

Therefore, these statistics suggested that huge numbers of Tax Credit claimants could be set to lose their benefits. Crucially, Topple estimated that the DWP would leave nearly 120,000 people without benefits.

Worse than previously thought?

Now, warnings from Citizens Advice (CA) have indicated that the situation could in fact be even worse.

Notably, the CA has raised the alarm over rates of failure for those shifting to Universal Credit. In what appear to be new statistics, the CA has highlighted that the migration process is leaving out around 25% of former claimants.

Moreover, according to the CA, the failure rate rises with age. It said that 20% of legacy claimants in their thirties haven’t completed the transition to Universal Credit. By contrast, this shoots up to 32% for people in their sixties and over.

The Canary is assuming these statistics apply to all types of legacy benefits that the DWP has issued migration notices to. To date, the DWP has directed the bulk of the migration at Tax Credit claimants. However, it has also included a small number of claimants on other benefit types. Therefore, the percentage would not solely refer to rates of denial for Tax Credits claimants.

However, it could still suggest that the number of people set to lose their benefits could now in fact be even higher than previous statistics have indicated.

Full speed ahead

Despite this, the DWP is ploughing on with its plan full-speed ahead. Yet, as Benefits and Work has pointed out, this perhaps isn’t surprising. In particular, this is because the department forecasts huge savings it will make from cutting off these benefits.

Notably, it said that the DWP has estimated that between 2024 and 2029, those losing out on benefits they’re entitled to will save the department £5bn.

On 26 April, the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) issued warnings about the DWP’s “managed migration” failures. Notably, in a report, it raised the alarm about the DWP’s nonchalant response to these statistics to date. In its press release, it noted that:

DWP said it was not concerned that so far 21% of tax credits claimants had not transferred to Universal Credit when invited to do so, even though it has only limited assurance that people who did not switch over are not missing out on benefits they are entitled to.

As such, PAC chair Meg Hillier MP concluded that:

if the transition from legacy benefits to UC fails even an apparently small proportion of people, it will lead to real world misery for thousands. The DWP must make sure that people are not cast into financial hardship due to a bureaucratic change, and that robust support is in place for those vulnerable claimants who need it most.

At the end of the day, the DWP’s rapid roll-out in light of these repeated damning statistics shows one thing for certain. That is, that the Tories “managed migration” is simply about cutting corners and cutting costs. Ultimately, it is shunting as many working-class people as possible into poverty and destitution.

In other words, stripping back the social security net was always the endgame. As ever, squeezing every last drop of so-called ‘savings’ from the most marginalised people in society is toxic Tory ‘welfare’ writ large.

Feature image via Youtube – DWP/the Canary

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