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28 July, 2020 Open access

DWP rejects SSAC’s recommendations for improvement of emergency response to COVID-19

Letter from Work and Pensions Secretary also fails to address request for information on redress for people who have lost tax credits by making claim for universal credit

The DWP has rejected recommendations from the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) for improvement of its emergency response to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

In a letter dated 8 July 2020, Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey responds to a letter from SSAC dated 27 May 2020 which put forward a number of policy recommendations to address the 'rough edges' in the DWP's emergency response.

In particular, Dr Coffey confirms that the DWP has no plans to -

In response to the Committee's request for further information on the steps that will be taken to ensure people do not lose entitlement to tax credits due to having made a claim for universal credit, Dr Coffey also confirms that -

'In line with our approach to continually improve universal credit, on 3 June we introduced a new check-through box to our online system to remind claimants to check their eligibility for universal credit before initiating a claim. This clearly sets out that legacy benefits will cease when their universal credit claim is submitted and explains that claimants will not be able to return to them in the future, even if the claimant is not entitled to universal credit.'

In addition, while the Committee had requested information on whether individuals who have been disadvantaged by making a claim for universal credit can seek redress, for example by having their tax credit claims reinstated, Dr Coffey fails to address the request.

For more information, see COVID-19: Letter to Secretary of State from SSAC from gov.uk