Changes are coming to your benefits from next month as the DWP stops six different types of benefits, before moving people onto Universal Credit.
These changes are expected to be brought in from October and will mean claimants will have to visit their Job Centres to make sure they are still paid, reports Devon Live. They will then verify their identity before accepting new commitments.
This is being referred to as “managed migration” and will not affect everywhere at once. Instead, the first areas which will see changes are Cumbria, Lancashire, Essex, Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Southwest Wales, East Scotland, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland.
Afterwards, Southeast Wales and Central Scotland will be next on the list. Then, the remaining areas, including Yorkshire, will see change.
The benefits being phased out are Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Working Tax Credit.
The DWP says it is currently focusing on people who are on tax credits but says the September rollout will also include a small number of “other legacy benefit combinations” as it prepares to move a wider range of claimants across in 2024/2025.
The most recent statistics published in mid-August by the DWP show that between July 2022 and May 2023, a total of 22,190 households on tax credits (Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits) and the legacy DWP Benefits that are being replaced by Universal Credit (income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance) had been sent ‘migration notices.’ The majority (21,630) were only on tax credits.
Of these, a total of 7,800 households have, up to the end of May 2023, made a claim to Universal Credit, with 4,930 given transitional protection to keep their benefits at the same level because their new payments would otherwise have been lower. Another 13,210 claims are still in progress and 1,190 claims have been closed.
Follow YorkshireLive’s West Yorkshire court reporter
Analysis by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) based on figures between November 2022 and March this year found that 28 per cent of people sent a DWP letter did not claim Universal Credit at all and had their benefits terminated. The charity fears that if this continues, around 140,000 households could have their current benefits stopped by the end of this financial year.
Government officials said some tax credit claimants had made a conscious decision not to claim Universal Credit where the amount they would receive was particularly small, others thought they were not eligible, and some felt there was a stigma attached to Universal Credit that had not been there for tax credits.
CPAG called on the DWP to change the rules so that no one has their old benefits halted until they have been successfully moved on to Universal Credit, saying they and other groups had previously warned this issue would arise and of the “potentially disastrous” consequences for children of those claimants.
A DWP spokesperson said: “We alert people three months before they need to move to Universal Credit and follow up with reminder letters and texts. Evidence shows most Tax Credit claimants have been able to claim Universal Credit without the need for additional support.
“Extensions can be arranged for those who need more time to make a claim and support is available in local jobcentres and via a dedicated DWP helpline. Benefits are only ever stopped as a last resort after multiple unsuccessful attempts to engage with claimants.”
Government guidance says a claimant receiving one or more of the relevant legacy benefits is issued with a Migration Notice informing them that to continue receiving financial support they must claim Universal Credit by the deadline date given in the letter. This is three months from the date the letter was sent out.
The Migration Notice signposts claimants to specific pages on GOV.UK where they can find more information or claim Universal Credit, and to a dedicated helpline where they can access support to make a claim. It says a claimant will receive reminders during the three-month period if they have not yet claimed Universal Credit and adds that the Migration Notice also explains how to request more time if needed.
When a person makes a claim for Universal Credit before their deadline date, they are asked to verify their identity, accept their claimant commitment, and undertake any relevant ID verification. Their legacy benefit(s) are also terminated, with any run-on of old benefits paid as appropriate.
At the end of the first assessment period, eligible claimants receive transitional protection if the amount they were previously receiving on their legacy benefits was more than they will get on Universal Credit. This protection keeps their payments at the same level. The amount and reason for the transitional protection are displayed on the claimant’s statement.
The claimant is also told if they do not receive this protection because their Universal Credit entitlement is the same or higher than their old benefit payments.
If a notified person does not make a claim by their deadline date, then their legacy benefits are terminated. However, the DWP points out that there is still a further chance to move over after. Someone can apply for Universal Credit within one month of their benefit being terminated, have their claim backdated to their deadline date, and still receive transitional protection where entitled.