Margaret Greenwood MP is urging people who are currently in receipt of what are known as legacy benefits to seek independent advice before voluntarily making a claim for Universal Credit (UC).
Legacy benefits include Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.
All legacy benefit claimants in Great Britain are set to be moved to Universal Credit by the end of 2024 as the government recently announced that the managed migration of legacy benefit claimants to Universal Credit will resume from today – 9 May 2022.
According to the government, anyone not already on Universal Credit ‘will gradually be notified of when they will be asked to move to UC so as to complete the process by 2024.’
It is not yet known when individual claimants will receive notification.
People do not have to wait for a notice from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) because it is possible to claim Universal Credit voluntarily, however the Wirral West MP is urging caution because some people could find themselves worse off.
Of the 2.6 million households in Great Britain remaining on legacy benefits, the government estimates that, should they choose to claim Universal Credit right away, only around 1.4 million (55%) would receive more money on Universal Credit compared to what they currently get, while approximately 900,000 households (35%) would actually receive less. 300,000 would see no change.
Margaret Greenwood, the MP for Wirral West and a former Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, is warning people to be cautious and seek advice if they are thinking of applying to move to Universal Credit if they are already on legacy benefits.
Data from the House of Commons Library shows that an estimated 2,200 households in Margaret Greenwood’s Wirral West constituency are still on legacy benefits.
Across Wirral as a whole, more than 16,000 households will be moved to Universal Credit.
Alarmingly, legacy benefit claimants who fail to engage in the managed migration process – for example if they don’t receive their notification for whatever reason – could have their benefits stopped altogether.
Margaret Greenwood MP said, “It is extremely important that, if someone on legacy benefits like ESA, JSA, Income Support, Housing Benefit or Tax Credits is thinking of claiming Universal Credit voluntarily, they take advice from an independent organisation to make sure that it is the right decision for them.
“In Wirral, Citizens Advice can be contacted on 0808 2787848 and people can also visit www.citizensadvicewirral.org.uk for more ways of getting in touch for assistance.
“The government is saying that all benefit claimants who are not already on Universal Credit will be moved onto it as part of the DWP’s ‘managed migration’ process by the end of 2024.
“It is possible that legacy benefit claimants who fail to engage in the managed migration process could have their benefits stopped altogether. This is a frightening prospect and the government should not be putting people at risk in this way. I am particularly concerned about what this will mean for people who fail to respond to a letter from the DWP for any reason.
“It is vitally important that people make sure that the DWP has their up-to-date contact details and that people do not ignore any official correspondence that they receive from the DWP.
“I would also urge people to look out for vulnerable relatives and friends and make sure that they do not miss any important correspondence.
“The government must make sure that every effort is made to contact people about any change.”
Image: MP Margaret Greenwood