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Universal Credit - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:55 pm on 5th November 2018.

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Photo of Baroness Buscombe Baroness Buscombe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 5:55 pm, 5th November 2018

I agree with some of what the noble Baroness said but not that I am struggling—I am just saying as much as possible in the time allowed. There is a lot to say—a lot that is positive. I repeat, however, that she is correct in saying that it is hard and that we have to get it right. That is why we are going to spend so much time on the design, which is not there yet—we have not yet designed the managed migration process. That is the point: we will have rolled out universal credit itself in all the jobcentres—634 of them, I think—by the end of this year, but we will take the actual managed migration process much more slowly, because it will lift people already on benefits from legacy benefits on to universal credit.

I wish that we could automatically transfer certain categories of people seamlessly, but we did that in 2011 when we were moving people from incapacity benefit to ESA, and the problem was that we missed some people’s change of circumstances and underpaid them. We do not want to take that risk again—we would be facing another judicial review. We know, however, that about 700,000 people are not receiving the legacy benefits—worth about £2.4 billion—that they are entitled to, and we want them to. That is one of the main reasons why we want face-to-face contact—work coaches and claimants working together to make sure that they get the right support.