THE Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has extended the deadline for thousands of benefit claimants to make a compulsory switch to Universal Credit.
It comes as the government plans to move all legacy claimants on to Universal Credit by the end of March 2025, under a process known as managed migration.
The process began in May last year and came after a successful pilot in July 2019.
Eligible households are being contacted via letters in the post which tell them how to make the move from tax credits to Universal Credit.
Once you receive a letter, you have three months to move over, or you could lose your current benefits.
But in the latest DWP Touchbase newsletter, the department has confirmed that thousands have had their deadlines to move extended.
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The DWP said: "For migration notices that would have had a deadline date that fell between December 11 2023, and January 5 2024, 30 days has been automatically added to the claimant's deadline date."
The DWP will next start sending letters to those on tax credits living in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Oxfordshire and inviting them to switch to Universal Credit.
Households on tax credits in the following locations should have started to receive these letters:
- Southeast Wales
- Central Scotland
- Northern Ireland
- Southwest Scotland
- East London
- Greater Manchester
- East Rising
- North Yorkshire
- East Anglia
- North London
- Tees Valley
- South London
- West Scotland
- East Scotland
- Isle of Wight
- Southwest Wales
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Over two million people are still on old-style legacy benefits, but the government plans to move the majority of them onto Universal Credit by the end of 2024.
In most cases, individuals will be better off following a move from legacy benefits to Universal Credit.
But 300,000 could be worse off, and should not move until they are asked to so their payments are protected, or they could lose cash.
Where an individual's Universal Credit payment is lower than their legacy benefits entitlement, they will usually be entitled to a top-up payment known as Transitional Protection.
This means that their Universal Credit entitlement will be the same as their legacy benefit entitlement at the point they move.
It's also worth noting that a change in circumstances before you receive a managed migration notice might trigger the move to Universal Credit earlier, for example, a change of job or address.
But in cases like this, you won't be eligible for Transitional Protection.
You can also choose to move over to Universal Credit from tax credits at any time – but it is best to check before doing so as you might not be better off.
You should consider carefully what moving over means for your money, as you can't move back once you're on Universal Credit.
Using an online benefits calculator can help you compare and are free and easy to use from charities such as Turn2Us and EntitledTo, and it's also worth asking them for advice.
What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a welfare scheme that was designed to combine a number of old "legacy benefits" into a single monthly payment.
Whether you are eligible will depend on your individual circumstances.
You may be eligible if you meet all of the following criteria:
- You’re on a low income or out of work
- You’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
- You’re under State Pension age (or your partner is)
- You and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you
- You live in the UK
How much is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit payments are made up of a standard allowance and then various additional payments that depend on your circumstances.
This is how much you will get as your standard allowance each month:
- Single, under 25 – £292.11
- Single, 25 or over – £368.74
- Couple, joint claimants both under 25 – £458.51 (for both)
- Couple, joint claimants, one or both 25 or over – £578.82 (for both)
You may also get additional payments depending on your circumstances.
You may be able to get a top-up if you have children:
- For those with a first child born before April 6, 2017, the extra amount is £315
- For those with a child born on or after April 6, 2017 or second child and subsequent child, the extra amount is £269.58
- For those with a disabled child, the lower rate additional payment is £146.31 and the higher rate is £456.89
If you have a disability you could get an extra amount depending on your circumstances:
- For those deemed to have limited capability for work, the extra amount is £146.31
- For those deemed to have limited capability for work or work-related activity, the extra amount is £390.06
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Universal Credit claimants can get an additional amount if they're caring for a severely disabled person for at least 35 hours a week.
The amount you get is £185.86.
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