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On Wednesday, the Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered his spring statement to update us on the state of the UK economy. On benefits, he resisted cross party calls to scrap the benefit freeze early. However, in an Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) report accompanying the statement, it was revealed that Amber Rudd’s recent announcements were not for compassion but due to a lack of capacity and to save money.
Work and Pensions Secretary, Amber Rudd MP has made several announcements regarding welfare benefits lately that gave the impression she was listening to claimants concerns.
One of these was the announcement that pensioners on Personal Independence Payment (PIP) would no longer face having their claim reviewed in any detail.
Repeat assessments to check claimants eligibility for PIP have been labelled “unnecessary and stressful” for claimants by the Work and Pensions Committee.
Earlier this month Rudd made a statement when annoucing the change that can now only be seen as misleading;
“Disabled pensioners have paid into our system for their whole lives and deserve the full support of the state when they need it most. This Government, therefore, intends to change the landscape for disabled people in Britain: to level the terrain and smooth their path.”
In the OBR report, which the Treasury use when making economic forecasts for the Spring Statement, the OBR commented on the Government’s decision to push back the full PIP roll-out (FPR).
Mirror Online Political Editor was the first to notice the references to PIP in the OBR report. As you can see above, the DWP told the OBR it was facing “longer-term capacity constraints in simultaneously delivering FPR, scheduled award reviews and the processing of new claims”.
It later informed the body it would prioritise completing the Full PIP Roll-out over PIP award reviews, suggesting the DWP did not have the capacity to do both. The OBR’s said;
“DWP has confirmed that December’s announcement prioritises completion of FPR over processing scheduled award reviews for some claimants. The secretary of state subsequently announced that reviews would cease for all claimants above the State Pension age, unless they request one.”
As a result of this prioritisation, the DWP said roll-out would be completed by October 2020. “But given the repeated delays and evidence of pressure on operational capacity in DWP and its providers, we have assumed that the process will not be completed until February 2021,”
The OBR have so little faith in the DWP they’ve automatically assumed they will be delayed in completing the roll-out of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
The Real Reason for Universal Credit’s Managed Migration Delay
The report also revealed the real reason behind the delay of the next stage of the Universal Credit roll-out, “managed migration”.
It is this that I find most sickening.
In January, Amber Rudd announced to much fanfare that managed migration would not begin this year in full as expected as, the DWP had decided to conduct a 10,000 claimant pilot first to “get it right”.
The OBR have now blown that claim out of the water. The real reason they have delayed the next phase is more sickening.
By delaying the roll-out, they are hoping that claimants currently on legacy benefits such as Jobseekers Allowance or Tax Credits experience a change of circumstances.
The reason the helps the DWP is because in most cases this will trigger the claimant having to “naturally migrate” to Universal Credit.
With managed migration, claimants’ benefits will be protected when they move from the legacy benefits system to Universal Credit. This means claimants are given an extra amount of money on top up their Universal Credit award to ensure they are not worse off than the old system.
However, those who move to Universal Credit before managed migration begins because of a change in circumstance do not get that transitional protection.
The OBR described how this would save the DWP, which then means the Treasury will have to commit less money to the already over budget scheme.
“We now see less risk that the pilot phase will be delayed and have greater confidence that the gradual build-up in volumes that follows can be delivered. In part, this is because the Government has reduced volumes to well below DWP’s operational capacity in order to reduce the costs associated with transitional protection for claimants who would otherwise lose out relative to their legacy benefit claim and those associated with claimants who would gain from UC relative to legacy benefits but are only expected to move to UC via managed migration.”
Rudd Exposed As a Liar
Once again, Amber Rudd has been outed as a liar. I have said before that the mainstream press have incorrectly been painting her as the savior of welfare claimants.
However, she is far from it. Like Esther McVey and Iain Duncan Smith who came before her, she’s interested in one thing, and one thing only; herself.
Since 2010 the assault on benefit claimants has been unyielding. Whether it be the inference that claimants are scroungers, or the catastrophic cuts, everything they have done has made life worse for those on benefits.
This year we have pensioners being pushed onto Universal Credit purely because they have a partner under the state pension age.
Benefit payment levels have been frozen since 2015, so while everything has gone up in price claimants have had to make do. This is what has contributed to the rise in foodbank use.
The only way anything will improve is the removal of the Conservatives from power. Labour however need to also have a clear policy on Universal Credit.
Currently, you have their Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary , Margaret Greenwood saying they’re reviewing it but their Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell saying Universal Credit WILL be scrapped.
All I know is Amber Rudd is as, if not more dangerous than those before her. She’s much more well liked in Parliament and her party so if she says it, they believe it.
As you can see from above, anything she’s said thus far has been a lie.