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National Housing Federation: How frontline organisations can prepare for managed migration


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Zoe Charlesworth, Head of Policy, was invited to present to the National Housing Federation’s Southwest meeting in June to discuss migration to Universal Credit and its implications for providers. Zoe, together with Policy and Operations Intern, Sam Tims, talked about the work our client, The Guinness Group, is doing to plan for their clients moving to Universal Credit, during both natural and managed migration.

With the UC rollout continuing providers are keen to learn from each other about the changes UC brings. One aspect that housing association representatives raised was whether clients should take the DWP’s advance, and therefore receive lower monthly income for a while, in order to cover the five-week wait. The discussion revealed no common view, though providers need tools to support clients with different circumstances in order to provide the right advice and avoid arrears.

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National Housing Federation: How frontline organisations can prepare for managed migration

  1. 1. Policy in Practice How frontline organisations can prepare for managed migration
  2. 2. Agenda • What Universal Credit managed migration is and how will it happen • How the Guinness Partnership is planning for the managed migration pilot • Quick look at software that is used by the Guinness Partnership to prepare for managed migration • Discussion on how rental incomes can be protected as residents move to UC.
  3. 3. What is “Managed Migration”? • The move to Universal Credit for claimants who have not “naturally migrated” by the start date of managed migration. • The start date of managed migration will depend on learning from a pilot commencing in July 2019 in Harrogate of up to 10,000 claims. The rollout is likely to start in 2020 (subject to meeting tests and passing of new regulations in Parliament). • Completion is hoped for by December 2023. • Who is affected? - 36% ESA - 54% tax credits - 10% other means-tested benefits • Approximately a third of eventual UC claimants will move through managed migration (around 2 million households) • Those in receipt of Severe Disability Premium are protected against natural migration.
  4. 4. How will it happen? The Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 Provides for a pilot and includes provision for: • Migration notice. • Specified deadline date (at least 3 months from notice). • Deadline date can be cancelled or extended. • Legacy benefits cancelled following deadline. • Automatic backdating if UC claim made within one month of deadline. If claim made after one month of deadline, it will be treated as a new UC claim and transitional protection not awarded. • Two week run-on of ESA, JSA, IS (from July 2020). • A one-year grace period from the Minimum Income Floor for self-employed who are managed migrated. From September 2020, this is extended to those who naturally migrate and those existing UC claimants who become newly self-employed.
  5. 5. Transitional Protection Transitional protection is based on the monthly rate of existing benefits compared to UC award on the deadline date Cessation of transitional protection will occur in the following circumstances: • a sustained (more than three months) earnings drop; • the formation or separation of a couple; • the ending of the Universal Credit award (where this was due to an increase in earnings and a new claim is made within 4 months of the Universal Credit award ending, the claimant will have their Transitional Protection re- awarded as part of their new award of Universal Credit). Transitional protection will reduce through uprating. Particular concerns regarding the housing element – increases in the housing element because of an increase in rent will reduce transitional protection.
  6. 6. SSAC Consultation 2018 The SSAC received a record number of submissions …”particularly struck by the degree of anxiety that was conveyed to us in the submissions” …”it is evident that any weakness within the Universal Credit system will be brought into greater relief when managed migration gets underway”. Submissions showed particular concerns regarding: • Those living in unstable accommodation • People at risk of domestic violence • Those living with disability which impaired engagement/access • Those unable to understand and act on information • Those without fluent English • Those without digital access • Impact of tax credit overpayments
  7. 7. Preparation for Managed Migration The DWP is co-designing the process with claimants, charities, experts and other stakeholders through webinars and workshops. Much of this will be “tested” through the Harrogate pilot: • Includes all case types including “complex” claims. • “Anxiety” of claimants informs the “Who knows me?” approach, essentially finding a personal connection for each claimant going through the process. • DWP estimate that around 50% of claimants have this sort of relationship with the Jobcentre, HMRC, their local authority, or their social landlord. They will start with JSA (and then the other organisations later).
  8. 8. Preparation for Managed Migration • Terminology change: “Move to UC” rather than “Managed Migration”. • Testing of IT readiness for Transitional Protection through the pilot. • Testing pre-population from HMRC “at some point in the pilot”. • Testing engagement in the pilot (DWP do not expect claims to be terminated). • Awaiting legislation for start date (now expected to be 17 July) and to cover SDP (they are deciding whether to include or exclude from pilot). • Comparison for transitional protection is at the midnight before the claim. The comparison is against what should be received they should get rather than what they actually get.
  9. 9. The Pilot – initial preparation • Initial preparation by DWP has shown HMRC and HB hold conflicting data on 1 in 10 cases. 10% are likely to be being overpaid or underpaid at the time of the TP comparison. - underpayment lump sum awards - overpayments written off • LA has seconded staff to DWP in order to access HB for TP calculation. It is not known how this will translate into roll out of managed migration. • The 2 week run-on of means-tested benefits includes tax credits (discretionary hardship payments) • Piloting removing the interview with JCP for those on tax credits with no conditionality. • Trialling different texts in letters to engage claimants • DWP are having an in-depth conversation with all those moving to UC. Includes; best start date, payment date, budgeting etc • The HAs will play an active role. There is a major blocker though around data sharing.
  10. 10. What happens next? Expansion to full rollout if tests are met: • IT • Delivery partners readiness • Trained staff • Assumptions and contingencies if assumptions not met • Claimant understanding • Claimant support But depends on new regulations being passed Delivery partners are preparing independently • Identification • Engagement • Support
  11. 11. Planning at Guinness HA Background Around 1,000 homes in Harrogate 388 customers already in receipt of UC 210 customers on HB Self Payers – high employment – not just housing costs
  12. 12. Planning at Guinness HA Preparation • Payment analysis • Migration tracker • ‘Untidy tenancies’ • APA versus Direct Debit? • UC Project Team • Stakeholder meetings • Targeted Communications – benefit claimants, self payers and homeowners • Engagement
  13. 13. Planning at Guinness HA Identification, targeting and engagement Ongoing income maximisation (e.g. SDP many cases of backdated awards of thousands of pounds) 54,000 cases on the benefit calculator 185 staff use the benefit calculator Move away from APA to DD (12% lower arrears) and allows tracking of impact of managed migration Informing residents in advance of UC impacts
  14. 14. Guinness - using the calculator to support migration to UC • Help tenants understand impact of UC • Illustrate the impact of weekly based income • Help tenants budget, prioritise payments, and prepare for paying rent in full once a month • Help tenants understand the impact of advances • Maximising income
  15. 15. Demonstration
  16. 16. Questions and discussion
  17. 17. Discussion – preparation to support rental incomes  With APA payments taking ages one method for keeping accounts in good position is to avoid an APA as Guinness are doing. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this approach?  With many challenges facing customers as they move onto UC how can HAs help residents get UC awards that are right first time? Does a triage process help with this?  With UC leading to claimants being at least one month in arrears should tenants be encouraged to pay more and get into credit as per their tenancy agreement?