Skip to main content

Universal Credit

Volume 652: debated on Friday 11 January 2019

Universal credit is a vital reform. It overhauls a legacy system which trapped people out of work. As we move to the next stage, known as managed migration, it is vital that universal credit works for all.

To deliver this, the Government will seek powers for a pilot of managed migration so that the Department cannot issue any more migration notices once 10,000 people have been awarded universal credit through this process. This approach provides the opportunity for the Government to develop the best support for claimants.

This entails replacing the current regulations laid before the House with two separate statutory instruments.

The first is a negative statutory instrument to provide for the severe disability premium gateway. This prevents legacy claimants who are in receipt of the severe disability premium from moving naturally to universal credit and allows them to continue to claim legacy benefits until they are moved over as part of the managed migration process. We are committed to bringing this important extra protection into force on 16 January and this provision ensures that we will meet that commitment.

A second affirmative statutory instrument will contain the remaining regulations as laid on 5 November 2018. These deliver our commitment to provide the vital transitional protection for claimants who are moved by the Department, which is worth over £3 billion for claimants over 10 years. These also provide for transitional payments to those claimants who were previously in receipt of severe disability premium and have moved to UC before the gateway came into force.

In addition, we are including a new provision in this statutory instrument, which will mean that once 10,000 claimants have been moved onto universal credit as part of managed migration, no further migration notices can be issued. In this way the Government are legislating for “piloting powers” rather than the migration of all claimants. This is in line with suggestions from both the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee and the Work and Pensions Select Committee. The Government will report on our findings from the pilot before bringing forward legislation to extend managed migration.

The pilot will begin—as planned—from July 2019 and does not affect the timeline for delivering universal credit, which will be completed in 2023.

The current legislation provides that, from 1 February, new claims to universal credit will support a maximum of two children, regardless of the date of birth of the children.

The Department has looked again carefully at this issue with particular focus on the families making a new claim whose children were all born prior to the implementation of the policy. We have concluded that including these families would not be right and therefore they will be entitled to support for any children born before 6 April 2017, the date that the policy was introduced. I am bringing forward the necessary legislation to enable this change.

The policy to provide support for a maximum of two children ensures that parents in receipt of benefits face the same financial choices when deciding to grow their family as those supporting themselves solely through work. Parents who support themselves solely through work would not usually see their wages increase simply because of the addition of a new child to their family. Exceptions are in place to support those who are not able to make decisions about the number of children in their family.