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Protection for those UC claimants who lost Severe Disability Premium when claiming Universal Credit

The government have, perhaps ahead of the decision on the Judicial Review taken by Leigh Day (click here for more info), announced that those UC claimants who move onto UC through natural migration and who are worse off because of the loss of the Severe Disability Premium will receive protection.

We do not have a implementation date yet but the plan seems to be:

  • No new claims for Universal Credit from anyone who has the Severe Disability Premium in their current legacy benefit awards.
  • Transitional protection for those claimants already on UC who were getting the Severe Disability Premium in their legacy benefits before moving onto UC and are worse off.
  • A backdated payment given to these claimants representing the amount of benefit lost since moving onto UC.

What we do not know yet is whether the closing of new claims to UC will require new Regulations (which could take some time) or whether the government will use Reg 4 of the UC (Transitional Provision) Regulations (as was used when claims in Live UC service areas were closed down at the beginning of the year). This would mean including those claimants getting a SDP when their legacy benefits are assessed as someone that falls within 'a category of case' so that the DWP can use their discretion not to accept a claim for UC from them (which, if used, could be announced any day).

This is great news - and all those involved should be congratulated. However you can't help wondering what it will mean for PIP decisions, and whether even more PIP claimants will be turned down, increasing the number of appeals and putting further pressure on the Tribunal Service.

And, until the Regulations are published the government's statement (see below) leaves many unanswered questions:

  • What about those claimants who make the claim for UC because they have been found fit for work, but later win their appeal against that decision and so would (had it not been for the UC claim) remained entitled to the SDP?
  • What about the claimants who move onto UC whilst in the middle of appealing a PIP decision which, if they win their appeal, would have meant they would have been entitled to the SDP but for the fact that they are now on UC?
  • How long will the transitional protection last? Will the 'normal' TP rules apply ie until there is a significant change in the claimant's circumstances even where this is unrelated to their health / care need? ie could a change such as having a baby end the TP?

 

Esther McVey, made the announcement on 7th June.
"In order to support the transition for those individuals who live alone with substantial care needs and receive the Severe Disability Premium, we are changing the system so that these claimants will not be moved to Universal Credit until they qualify for transitional protection. In addition, we will provide both an on-going payment to claimants who have already lost this Premium as a consequence of moving to Universal Credit and an additional payment to cover the period since they moved."

It was part of a statement on a series of measures regarding the transitional protection that will be in place when 'managed migration' starts in July 2019. She also announced that:

  • Those receiving TP, who then take short-term or temporary work and increase their earnings, will not see the level of their TP reduced due to an award of, or increase in, support for childcare costs.
  • Those receiving TP, whose UC award reduces to nil due to a short-term increase in earnings, will continue to receive TP if they make a rapid reclaim and receive a further award of UC within three months.
  • Those Tax Credit claimants with capital in excess of £16,000,  will - for UC purposes - have any capital in excess of £16,000 disregarded for 12 months from the point at which they are moved to Universal Credit.

It was also announced that due to these changes the completion date for UC has been changed again - to March 2023.

Click here to see the announcement in full.