Millions of people could see benefits cut if they miss the Universal Credit deadline

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) this week restarted its “migration process” to switch people on old-style benefits to Universal Credit – but not all will be better off

Universal Credit replaces six older benefits
Universal Credit replaces six older benefits

Millions of people claiming legacy benefits could see their payments halted if they miss an important deadline.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) this week restarted its ‘migration process’, with people on old-style benefits switching to Universal Credit.

Around 500 people will be invited to claim Universal Credit starting May 9, with a deadline for everyone to switch to Universal Credit by December 2024.

When it’s your turn to move, you’ll receive a “migration notice” in the mail, giving you three months to apply for Universal Credit.

If you do not apply for Universal Credit within this time, your current benefits will automatically cease after this period.

In an update released yesterday, the DWP said: “This letter is notifying you that your existing benefits or tax credits are ending and the date by which you must apply for Universal Credit.”

Some people may switch to Universal Credit early if they notice a change in circumstances — for example, moving home or changing their work hours.

Everyone migrates eventually—but you can migrate sooner if you think you’re better off.

Did you receive a letter asking you to switch to Universal Credit? Let us know:

You must do your research before you voluntarily switch to Universal Credit, as once you switch, you won’t be able to go back to the old benefits.

Below is more information on how many people get more money with Universal Credit.

We also have a guide here on how to check if you’re better off with the new system.

Around 2.6 million people still claim legacies in the UK.

These include tax credits, earnings-related unemployment assistance (JSA), income support, earnings-related Employment and Assistance Allowance (ESA), and housing benefit.

The phasing out of these benefits had been temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Which benefits will expire?

Universal Credit replaces the following six benefits:

  • Labor Tax Credit
  • child allowance
  • Earned Unemployment Assistance (JSA)
  • social care
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • housing benefit

About 1.2 million people claim ESA, while another 1 million claim tax credits.

The rest of the heirs receive 200,000 income support and 100,000 each housing benefit and JSA.

The DWP claims that 1.4 million people (55%) would be better off with Universal Credit and 900,000 (35%) would be worse off.

The other 300,000 beneficiaries will see no change.

Once you apply for Universal Credit, your old benefits will stop and you’ll have to wait five weeks for your first Universal Credit payment to arrive.

Some legacy benefits – including Housing Benefit, Income Support, Earnings-Contingent Employment and Support Assistance and Earnings-Contingent Jobseeker’s Allowance – will “continue” for two weeks to fill the gap.

Tax credit payments will stop once you claim Universal Credit.

If you transition to Universal Credit through managed migration and you get worse, you’ll receive monthly transition payments to cover the loss of payment.

Transitional protection lasts until there is no difference between the amount you received under Universal Credit and what you previously received under legacy benefits.

However, there have been warnings that these transitional payments could effectively result in a freeze on benefits for poorer Brits.

Because as Universal Credit increases over time in line with inflation, the transitional protection diminishes until the benefit catches up with what they paid.

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