DWP minister Justin Tomlinson claims department wants to ‘avoid transferring errors from legacy benefits’
Credit: Philip Toscano/PA Archive/PA Images
The Department for Work and Pensions has decided that applications for Universal Credit will not pull through existing data held on claimants’ circumstances.
In a written parliamentary question, Labour MP Hugh Gaffney asked whether the DWP had considered the “potential merits of using existing data to pre-populate” applications for UC in cases where the department already knows the claimant is terminally ill or suffering from a condition that entirely prevents them from working or preparing to return to work.
In response, DWP minister Justin Tomlinson said that the department “has no plans” for applications to automatically pull through these details – or any other information. This decision has been taken “for a number of reasons”, he added.
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“We want to ensure data is accurate and up-to-date to avoid transferring errors from legacy benefits to the Universal Credit system,” Tomlinson said. “Furthermore, the legacy system does not have all of the information needed for a Universal Credit claim. Implementing a claim on inaccurate data will lead to inaccurate awards and claimants not receiving the money they are entitled to.”
He added: “It is also important to note that not everyone will want to move on to Universal Credit and the Department cannot simply assume that all existing claimants want to claim Universal Credit.”
However, Tomlinson said the DWP will use details of “existing decisions or verification to make aspects of the process easier” for claimants and, where possible, remove the need to repeat interactions.
“For example, if a claimant has an existing Work Capability Assessment decision, there will be no requirement to have another assessment in order to receive the disability elements of Universal Credit,” he said. “Also, for claimants who do not have any work-related requirements, we already operate a digital claimant commitment acceptance process and we will carry that forward when moving claimants over to Universal Credit without a change in circumstances.”