DWP benefit payments could stop if people fail to act on Universal Credit letter

People on legacy benefits are being moved to Universal Credit
People on legacy benefits are being moved to Universal Credit -Credit:PA

Benefit claimants are being warned they could miss out on payments if they fail to act on a Universal Credit migration letter.

The Department for Work and Pensions is sending letters to people who claim legacy benefits, which will end next year, and claimants will be moved onto Universal Credit instead. The timetable for the migration of legacy benefits to Universal Credit was shortened last month when the Government announced that all 1.6 million claimants on the old system would be sent "migration notices" by the end of 2025 - three years sooner than planned.

Latest figures show around one in four people receiving old-style benefits fail to migrate to Universal Credit and drop out of the benefits system. This problem is most acute for older people, with one in three over 60 dropping out of the system, reports the Manchester Evening News.

Citizens Advice has said that the DWP does not appear to understand why such a high number of benefit claimants would drop out of the system. The advice service says that many "have higher levels of practical and emotional support needs — but the managed migration process isn’t meeting these needs."

The charity pointed out that many of these older adults will not benefit from improvements to the Universal Credit online system, and would instead benefit from face-to-face appointments, which they say "should be made available to all claimants."

Broken down into age categories, the proportion of people failing to migrate from legacy benefits:

  • 20 per cent of people aged 30-39

  • 22 per cent of people aged 40-49

  • 27 per cent of people aged 50-59

  • 32 per cent of people aged 60+

The six benefits and tax credits being phased out and replaced by Universal Credit are: Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

'Managed migration' to Universal Credit

People claiming these six benefits have until December 2025 to make the move to the new system. Anyone claiming a legacy benefit will receive a letter from the DWP informing them they have three months to make a claim for Universal Credit.

Enrolment in Universal Credit is not automatic, you will have to apply for it within this three-month period or your benefits will stop entirely. You can apply either online, in person at a jobcentre, or on the phone (0800 328 5644).

To start the application process, you will need to provide proof of identity, bank or building society details, and contact information. To complete your claim, you will need to provide other information such as your National Insurance number, details of the benefits you currently claim, and other financial information to inform your Universal Credit payment.

For some on old-style benefits, moving to the new system will involve a reduction in the amount of money they receive. However, anyone who applies within this three-month window will qualify for transitional protection payments, which boosts your Universal Credit payment in line with your old benefits. If you miss this window, your Universal Credit award could be lower than what you currently receive.