We welcomed the recent report by the Social Security Advisory Committee and have accepted nearly all its recommendations. We are determined that all claimants are supported through this process, particularly the most vulnerable, and we will be working collaboratively with our stakeholders to ensure that those in need of additional support receive the assistance they require.
None of the changes to universal credit managed migration that were announced in the Budget will help people whose debilitating mental illness means that they are too anxious and unwell to open their post and are deeply fearful of any new assessment process. I welcome the new Secretary of State to her post, but what will she do to ensure that no one is left without income during the managed migration process, and will she commit to halt the roll-out until such a guarantee can be given?
I know that the new Secretary of State is very passionate about focusing on this particular area. There will be four to six months of comprehensive preparation for those looking to migrate. There will be personalised communication and information on the support available, and our highly trained and experienced staff will identify vulnerable claimants, such as those with mental health conditions, so that we can instead offer home visits or telephone calls, or even delay or stop the migration process if that is appropriate for the individual claimant.
Does the Minister agree that the system of implicit consent is absolutely essential for claimants with high support needs under the legacy system, and that it must be rolled out and extended to universal credit urgently and before managed migration begins?
There is real merit in that point. From talking to stakeholders, particularly social housing companies and local authorities, I think that when we can find a way to connect up stakeholders, including the most vulnerable claimants in particular, it increases the chance of making the process as smooth as possible.
I welcome the new Secretary of State to her post.
On 13 November, Mind wrote to me to outline its fears about how the approach of the then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to the managed migration of universal credit created a real risk that many people with mental health problems could be left without an income altogether in the move to universal credit. Will the new Secretary of State take the opportunity to make a clear statement of independence from her predecessor, take note of the grave concerns of Mind, Macmillan and others, and withdraw these regulations immediately?
No, because these migrations will bring in very important additional supports, as each and every Member needs to bear in mind when the vote comes forward. We work closely with stakeholders, and I remind Opposition Members that under legacy benefits, more than 700,000 people, who include some of the most vulnerable claimants—the people who contact us as constituency MPs—are, on average, missing out on £285 a month because those legacy benefits are complex and not personalised. It is absolutely right that we do this, but in a controlled and sensible manner.