Managed Migration - UC

 Managed Migration - UC

31st July 2023

 Managed Migration: How one person's story can bring it all into focus

by Ainhoa Lavin, Project Engagement Officer, Help to Claim service.

This article was first published in The Herald on 29 July 2023.

By Ainhoa Lavin.

This week we want to use this column to highlight a government policy that is about to affect a significant number of people. It’s called ‘Managed Migration’ to Universal Credit (UC).

UC was created to simplify the benefits system by merging six previous benefits into a single monthly payment. This means of course that people claiming those six previous benefits will have to move onto UC.

Up until this year, this was a voluntary process. However, starting from next week, people will be asked to move onto UC through a process called Managed Migration.

The UK government is currently committed to topping-up funds to match peoples’ current income, so no-one will lose out from the move. However, it’s essential to follow the instructions in the Migration Notice carefully. Applying too soon or too late could result in you losing money.

In Scotland, the rollout has specific challenges, such as digital and geographical exclusion. Identifying vulnerable individuals, such as those with mental health issues or experiencing abuse, and providing them with adequate support, is often difficult.

This is where Citizens Advice Scotland comes in. In my role at CAS I work as part of a free helpline service that is specifically designed to help people go through the process of claiming for UC. It’s called Help to Claim (HTC). It’s for all UC claimants, including first-timers, but at the moment we’re making ourselves ready to advise people who are migrating from the previous benefits.

Coincidentally, I was chatting recently with a friend who told me about Olivia, a relation of theirs.

Olivia had been out of work for a few years due to deteriorating arthritis and mental health issues. So she found herself in the complex world of the benefits system. She’d managed to secure some financial stability through the receipt of benefits designed to cater to her situation, but the amount she received was often not enough, and with the cost-of-living crisis in full swing she struggled to make ends meet.

Olivia's situation then became more complicated when she received an unexpected Universal Credit- Migration Notice from the Department of Work and Pensions, prompting her to begin her transition to UC.

Official letters like these can be intimidating, and when she saw there was a 3-month deadline given to complete the move, Olivia’s mental health was put under new strain. Overwhelmed and unsure, she sought support from the local Job Centre who referred her to our HTC helpline.

Our advisers checked Olivia’s benefit entitlement thoroughly and diligently guided her through the migration process. There is no doubt that without that support, Olivia could have easily ended up in a much worse financial position.

Hearing Olivia’s story exemplified to me that as Managed Migration rolls out, it’s essential that the specific implications and complexities of each individual case are taken into account. Our HTC helpline offers exactly that kind of service.

So if you or anyone you know is in Olivia’s situation, i.e. if you’ve received or are about to receive the official Managed Migration Notice, don’t worry - our advisers are there to give you any help you need. And, as with all Citizens Advice services, HTC advice is free, independent, and completely confidential. You can contact us on 0800 023 25