DWP puts 600,000 households on alert as major Universal Credit change to happen sooner than expected

Hundreds of thousands of households are being alerted to major changes affecting their benefits. People who claim income-related Employment Support Allowance (ESA) will now be moved over to Universal Credit by April 2025, three years earlier than previously planned.

This will mean around 600,000 people receiving Migration Notice letters, likely in the early part of next year, telling them they will need to apply for Universal Credit or risk losing their benefits. People who claim so-called legacy benefits are being moved over to the single Universal Credit payment.

Many claimants have already been moved over but the process is continuing for some this year. The DWP is currently in the process of contacting people on income support and tax credits with housing benefit.

READ MORE: DWP sending letter to hundreds of thousands of households with three-month warning

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People who receive a Migration Notice letter informing them of the move to Universal Credit have been told they must not ignore it. That's because the process is not automatic and people must apply to receive Universal Credit as their legacy benefit stops.

In the 2022 Autumn Statement, the Government delayed the transition for those claiming income-related ESA and housing benefit to 2028. However, that plan has now been ditched.

Last week Prime Minister Rishi Sunak shared his "Welfare Reform" act which included the U-turn, with the benefits department set to start contacting all 600,000 households claiming these benefits later this year, the Mirror reports.

This unexpected shift was confirmed by the DWP on X. Following the speech, they posted: "The Prime Minister’s welfare reform speech earlier today announced the acceleration of the Managed Migration of legacy ESA/ESA & HB cases to Universal Credit. All migration notices will now be sent by the end of December 2025. We will work with stakeholders on the detailed plans."

The benefits being scrapped by the DWP are the older "legacy" benefits which include:

  • Working Tax Credit

  • Child Tax Credit

  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)

  • Income support

  • Housing Benefit

  • Income related Employment Support Allowance (ESA)

The DWP has been phasing out the legacy benefits for a few years and restarted the move again last year after briefly pausing during the Covid pandemic. At the time of the managed migration restarting, around 2.6 million people were still claiming old-style legacy benefits in the UK.