As we have agreed with stakeholders at the outset of our work, the Move to Universal Credit pilot is designed, in its first phase, to test a series of hypotheses about the best way to move claimants from legacy benefits and tax credits onto Universal Credit. To do that we need to keep the numbers low, so we can observe and adapt in the light of claimants’ experiences and reactions. We plan to add volume later in the pilot, once we are convinced we have workable propositions, to test our ability to scale the hypotheses, learn the safest way to do that and to draw conclusions from significant volume on likely patterns of claimant behaviour.
At Christmas the number of cases in the pilot was 69. Cases are in the pilot not just at the point of moving, but we track after a move to Universal Credit because we are interested in how claimants adapt to the differences Universal Credit brings, relative to the old system of benefits and tax credits. By taking the approach of encouraging rather than forcing claimants to move, we want to understand why some claimants agree to move and others don’t, together with what supports claimants to make a positive decision. That can only be done by restricting the number of cases to a low number to allow for qualitative discussions.
It is too early to draw any definitive conclusions of the discovery work we are engaged in or to make public statements, but we have committed to stakeholders and Parliament to share findings when we have them. The first of these updates will be produced in the Spring.