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CHARITIES warned the government today that plans to move people on legacy benefits to universal credit (UC) are “too dangerous to continue.”
More than 20 charities told the government not to resume moving people receiving older benefits on to UC unless it can guarantee nobody’s income will be cut off during the cost-of-living crisis.
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has restarted the “managed migration” of people on benefits such as employment and support allowance and working tax credit on to the new system.
The process, which was paused during the pandemic, aims to phase everyone on to the new system by the end of 2024.
But the charities have written to Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey, advising her to halt the plans.
The groups said that if people do not apply by the deadline, the DWP will be able to stop their existing claim and that it was “unacceptable” that the government will trial the process using 500 people as “guinea pigs.”
The letter said: “We believe that your approach for moving people receiving older benefits on to 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.”
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind and a signatory, said: “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.”
He said that the department must take responsibility for helping people navigate the “complicated system.”
James Taylor, director of strategy at the disability equality charity Scope, warned: “This is a bad move at a terrible time, and hundreds of thousands of disabled people are in the firing line.
“It means that as costs ramp up, support slides down.”
In a written statement submitted to the House of Commons on April 25, Ms Coffey said that she is “absolutely committed to making this a responsible and safe transition.”
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