Esther McVey, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, yesterday laid out the regulations to roll out Universal Credit (UC) over the next few years to claimants of existing benefits, including extending the period people have to claim from one month to three months.

Great concern has been raised by disabled people, disability organisations including Thomas Pocklington Trust, MPs and others about the intention simply to stop existing benefits and give claimants a month to claim UC. The obstacles, including the challenge of people normally having to submit digital claims, raise the real possibility that large numbers of claimants will find themselves with no income, possibly for a long period.

Yesterday’s announcement goes some way to help, notably by extending the time that people have to claim, from a minimum of one month to a minimum of three months. This is a welcome step, giving assessors and claimants more time to stop things going wrong. TPT will be engaging with the Department for Work and Pensions to avoid problems for blind and partially sighted people as far as is possible within the current proposals.

We are concerned, however, that the stop-start approach to this flagship policy persists, and this presents significant risk to vulnerable claimants. Large numbers could still fall through the gaps. We would like to see an orderly process of migration, whereby claimants remain on their ‘legacy benefits’ until a UC claim is in place. This could be achieved through a systematic review process and we do not perceive any real barriers to doing so.

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