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  • #286680
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    UNIVERSAL CREDIT – UPDATE ON PREPARING TO START THE MANAGED MIGRATION OF
    HOUSING BENEFIT HOUSEHOLDS
    Letter from Neil
    Couling

    30th March 2024

    As we approach the start of managed migration for housing benefit claimants, I wanted to thank you
    for your teams’ excellent engagement to date, set out the ways in which we will continue to offer our
    support over the next months, and outline our enhanced support customer journey.

    In December, I shared our plans to contact households by benefit combination order rather than
    geography. As a reminder, we plan to start issuing Migration Notices to working age benefit
    households in the following order (remembering if a Housing Benefit customer is receiving one of
    these benefits, they will receive a Migration Notice then): Income Support (April–June); Housing
    Benefit only (June- August); income–related Employment and Support Allowance with Child Tax
    Credits (July–September); income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (September). For the remaining
    pensioners on tax credits, households being asked to move to Pension Credit will be contacted from
    July, with households being asked to claim Universal Credit, being notified from August.
    Since December, Local Authority Partnership, Engagement & Delivery (LA-PED) colleagues have
    been working with your teams to share more details, including:

    • Regular updates in the monthly LA Welfare Direct
    • A walk through of the draft guidance with the Local Authority Practitioners Operational Group,
    followed by their quality assurance of the product
    • Providing updates at the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation regional forums
    • Issuing the LA Funding schedule including allocations for the new burdens funding for
    managed migration
    • Issuing a letter to all LAs including the national Migration timetable
    Last Friday, LA-PED and Universal Credit (UC) Programme colleagues held a session with 500+
    representatives from across the local authority (LA) community. I was reassured to hear that the
    majority of the questions raised were clarifications around the process, both for LA teams delivering
    Housing Benefit and for the customers receiving their Migration Notice, rather than concerns about
    the approach taken. Please pass on my thanks to your teams for making time to meet with DWP
    Colleagues.

    Since the call on Friday, LA-PED colleagues have updated our guidance to reflect the discussions,
    this was shared with LAs on Tuesday 19 March. Further work is underway to produce a
    comprehensive FAQ to answer the questions raised, that are not currently covered within the
    guidance. Within this, we have set out how we will continue to engage with LAs, and the escalation
    routes available to address issues in real time. This will be in addition to our ongoing engagement
    through the Local Authority Welfare Steering Group, Local Authority Practitioners Operational Group
    and our Operational Stakeholder Engagement Forum.
    Enhanced Customer Support from April

    I’d like to also take this opportunity to share with you our confirmed plans to support customers who
    require additional support to make the move to Universal Credit.
    Hopefully you are aware that DWP has been testing an enhanced customer journey as part of the
    small-scale discovery activity since September 2023. We published our initial findings in February
    2024 Move to Universal Credit – insight on Tax Credit migrations and initial Discovery activity for
    wider benefit cohorts – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

    Currently, tax credit only households receive a reminder via letter after 7 weeks (from issue of the
    Migration Notice) if no claim to Universal Credit has been made. A further reminder is sent after 10
    weeks by letter or text.
    From April, additional contact will be made for all households who are in receipt of Employment and
    Support Allowance. For households receiving Income Support, system checks will be undertaken to
    identify additional support needs (and of course many of these households will also be in receipt of
    Housing Benefit and so benefit from this additional support in making a claim for Universal Credit).
    Households deemed to require additional support will receive a text at week 12, to advise that DWP
    will be contacting them by phone. Three attempts will be made to contact the household to offer
    support.

    Where no contact is made, DWP will refer households for a home visit. Should the visit be
    unsuccessful, further escalations will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
    DWP will start to notify households from 9 April of the need to make a claim to Universal Credit,
    subject to confirmation that the integrations with all legacy benefit systems are in place and fully
    tested. We remain confident of this start date; however, LA-PED will write to you should it be
    necessary to wait for assurance that all integrations are in place before commencement.

    As always, should you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with the
    team at universalcredit.engagementteam@dwp.gov.uk or LA-PED colleagues at
    lawelfare.laliaisonteam@dwp.gov.uk.

    I look forward to our continued collaborative working to ensure customers are safely and effectively
    migrated to Universal Credit.

    #286741
    rob-boxall
    Participant

    So out of the blue, DWP announces that ESA cohort will start to move to UC from September 2024 and be finished by December 2025…………..surprise 🙂

    • This reply was modified 3 months ago by rob-boxall.
    • This reply was modified 3 months ago by rob-boxall.
    #286749
    John Boxall
    Participant

    Given that there will be a General Election shortly I suggest that wait and see may well be the best approach

    Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the god of day goes down upon the dreary scene, and—and in short you are for ever floored.

    Wilkins Micawber, Ch12 David Copperfield

    #286750
    Debbie Wake
    Participant

    Probably a bit too early but given the April/May timetable for IS with TC and HB with TC has any LA received any of the new stop notice for migration where legacy benefit claimants have reacted to the migration letters and made their claim for UC?

    #286751
    helevans
    Participant

    Yeah, we received one on 18/04/24 – claim is suspended for another reason at the moment to do with their income – so we need to ascertain that before we can process it because two week payment is likely to be lower than what they are currently receiving because of the increase in their employed income – its a HB and tax credits claim though. Definitely starting to happen!

    #286763
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    Yes John….Labour have been very quiet on this area.

    It is May next week and suddenly the Government is talking about all sorts of changes to start in September. Even though legislation is needed first. I noticed Neil Couling was asked about exempt/temp accommodation but said nothing and also about pensioners and said legislation would be published “soon”. That was promised 5 years ago.

    Not easy for DWP officials when they know the Minister pressing them for action probably wont even be an MP in a few months. Will the same officials be left in place or will Labour want a new broom? Who knows? They are rightly waiting. Tony Blair did the same before his first administration 25 years ago.

    #286764
    rob-boxall
    Participant

    Not easy for Benefit Mangers either 🙂 trying to work out resources needed going forward when things keep changing in the wind.

    #286811
    rob-boxall
    Participant
    #286823
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    True Rob.

    #286864
    Julian Hobson
    Participant

    Quite some time since I’ve posted anything here – hello all

    Not sure the potential election will impact on the migration timetable because once that is the journey for DWP then it will be very difficult to turn that ship around once it’s started.

    My view is that regardless of a change in government there will be a “welfare reform” in the next parliament, but of course who knows what that will look like ?

    Anyhow – has anybody given any thought to the DWP’s promise (documented in another post recently and from Dec 2015) regarding funding of any potential redundancy ? Redeployment might not be a reasonable prospect given the financial constraints on LA’s more generally. Promise copied below

    Dear Colleagues,

    CONTINUED ROLLOUT OF UNIVERSAL CREDIT FROM MAY 2016 – PLANNING ASSUMPTIONS FOR LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND ADVANCE NOTICE OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT ON TUPE FOR LOCAL AUTHORITY HOUSING BENEFIT TEAMS

    1. I am writing to share some information about the rollout of Universal Credit which I hope will be helpful to you in constructing your plans, particularly in 2016/17. You will know that we are still working through the detailed implications of the Spending Review, but I know from talking to many of you that any information I can share will help you and your teams develop better plans.

    2. This letter also gives you, in confidence, advance notice of an announcement to Parliament that my Ministers intend to make on 10 December, in order that you can make plans to communicate the Government’s position to staff currently working on Housing Benefit. Clearly it is important that Parliament hears this from my Ministers, as protocol demands, but I thought you would appreciate advance notice so that you can prepare your own internal communications to coincide with the announcement.

    Implementing the full national Digital Service from May 2016

    3. In September 2014 my Secretary of State announced that we expected to begin implementing the full Universal Credit service from May 2016. I am pleased to say that we have made good progress with system development: we started testing the new service in Sutton and have expanded into Croydon and Southwark. Further tests in five other jobcentres are scheduled from now to May and I expect to launch the new service as planned from May 2016.

    4. In line with the approach that has served us well to date, and building on the fact that by May we will have established Universal Credit in every Local Authority area, we will begin rolling out the full service in stages. We will begin with five jobcentres a month, accelerating to 50 jobcentres a month from the end of 2016 – with full implementation complete by the middle of 2018. 2

    5. I expect to be able to share further details of the roll out plan – including the locations for 2016/17 offices – in the New Year. In view of the degree of uncertainty this brings to your planning for Housing Benefit services Ministers have agreed to my suggestion that we should not make the planned reductions to the Housing Benefit Administration subsidy for Local Authorities, consequent on Universal Credit, for the 2016/17 year. This means that if you are running a council that is implementing Universal Credit in 2016/17 you retain the financial subsidy whilst losing the work. So every council, when making financial plans for 2016/17 can plan to be delivering Housing Benefit as now without additional financial risk from the implementation of Universal Credit. I hope this is helpful in drawing up your plans.

    6. With the Transition phase complete in the middle of 2018 we will then start the final stage: converting the stock of existing claims to Housing Benefit onto Universal Credit – to be complete by early 2021. We will communicate further details in due course, and will work in partnership with Local Authorities, Housing Associations, HMRC and Citizen’s Advice.

    Administering Housing Benefit during the implementation of Universal Credit

    7. In my discussions with some Chief Executives emphasis has been placed on the need for clarity on the position for your people currently administering Housing Benefit. The uncertainty affects decisions you might make about the level of investment and the choices people make. In some areas there is concern about people leaving too fast, and any impact on your ability to maintain a Housing Benefit service, in others there will be anxieties about a lack of ability to redeploy people when Housing Benefit ceases. And some of you have contracted out your services to a third party supplier and need to know what to do about your contract arrangements.

    8. I want to emphasise (and you can see from my high level description of our plans I set out above) that we are talking about a three to five year period for the gradual run-down of Housing Benefit delivery for people of working age by Local Authorities. And on present plans we are not proposing to make changes to the delivery of Housing Benefit for pensioners in this period. So there is an on-going requirement to deliver Housing Benefit for the foreseeable future.

    9. Clearly any change will inject some uncertainty into your planning – but one uncertainty I can address today is clarifying the Department’s position on transfers under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (as amended) more commonly known as TUPE. There has been extensive engagement on this issue, as you would expect, with the Local Authority associations. On the Government side we have reached a firm conclusion that because of the nature of Universal Credit as a new benefit, delivered in a new and fundamentally different way, there would be no “relevant transfer” of staff working on Housing Benefit today. In any event, you will be aware that transfers of administrative functions between public administrative authorities are exempt. We have, in addition, given careful consideration to the Cabinet Office Statement of Practice (COSOP). We do not consider COSOP to apply where, as here, there is no “relevant transfer” for the 3

    purposes of TUPE. In any event, the new and fundamentally different delivery model for Universal Credit makes staff transfers inappropriate.

    10. I have told my Ministers that it would help your planning to have the Government’s view clearly put. Accordingly they have agreed to make an announcement to Parliament to this effect on 10 December.

    11. I know that you will want to lay plans to communicate this to your teams administering Housing Benefit. This is why I am sharing with you advance notice of this announcement – which must not be communicated until the announcement has been made in Parliament.

    Managing the financial consequences of phasing out Housing Benefit for Working Age claimants

    12. As Local Authorities work with us on establishing Universal Credit and phasing out Housing Benefit there will be consequences for the people who currently administer Housing Benefit for people of working age. Working with the Local Authority associations we estimate there could be a full time equivalent number of 4-5,000 affected by this change – over 3 to 5 years.

    13. Clearly we will all want to take steps to see if we can ensure that any people affected are redeployed within councils. I am of course aware that you face other financial pressures to manage with implications for staffing. But we very much hope that the phased nature of the change, across a number of years, means that people can be redeployed.

    14. Where that does not prove possible, the DWP will meet the full costs of compulsory redundancies, once Local Authorities can show that all redeployment and reassignment activity has been undertaken. I suspect given the phased nature of these changes it will be many years before we are at that point. But you can plan now on the basis that your Local Authority will not face additional financial pressure from redundancy costs arising from this change by Central Government, subject to making best efforts to redeploy people where that is possible.

    15. I hope this is helpful to you in planning. I will write again in the New Year to share further detail on the plans for Universal Credit.

    Regards,

    Neil Couling

    #286867
    Naomi Armstrong
    Participant

    We sucessfully utilised this financial support in 2021 and no doubt will be looking to do so again.

    #286868
    John Boxall
    Participant

    I suggest that it would be perfectly possible to slow ESA migration if that was the decision the Politicians wanted to make

    But if there were to be a change of government I suggest what they do need to do is bring back a national CTB scheme

    Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the god of day goes down upon the dreary scene, and—and in short you are for ever floored.

    Wilkins Micawber, Ch12 David Copperfield

    #286957
    marden
    Participant

    We sucessfully utilised this financial support in 2021 and no doubt will be looking to do so again.

    Is this policy definitely still a thing? If so, can anybody point me to where/how this is accessed?
    Thanks

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