DWP urges hundreds of ESA claimants to apply for Universal Credit instead

Hundreds on employment and support allowance could be asked to make big change this month. People claiming employment and support allowance (ESA) could be asked to make a change in June as part of a "trial".

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is trialling asking these individuals to apply for Universal Credit. It comes ahead of a wider rollout, in which all claimants on ESA will be asked to move from September 2024.

The DWP has announced in a bulletin sent to local authorities that it is planning to begin notifying ESA claimants that they need to shift to UC in September 2024, with the aim of notifying everyone affected to make the move by December 2025.

READ MORE New UK airport departure rules will see passengers 'miss flight' and 'can't request new one'

The affected claimant will be income-related ESA claimants and also ESA with housing benefit claimants. Previously, migration of these groups was not scheduled to take place until 2028.

The DWP confirmed the new migration timetable in the 17 May edition of the departmental newsletter “Touchbase”, saying: “Many customers will be better off on UC compared to legacy benefits and we estimate around half of our ESA and ESA with Housing Benefit customers would receive over £100 a month more on UC.

"Customers will also be able to benefit from improved work incentives and enhanced labour market support for those who want it.” Universal Credit is replacing six benefits under the old welfare system, commonly called legacy benefits. They are: Working tax credit, Child tax credit, Income-based jobseeker's allowance, Income support, Income-related employment and support allowance and also Housing benefit.

You should consider carefully what moving over means for your money, as you can't move back once you're on Universal Credit. You may be moved to Universal Credit if your circumstances change, such as moving home, changing your working hours, or having a baby.

But eventually everyone will be moved over to Universal Credit.

This article was amended on June 11 to reflect that hundreds of people on ESA are moving to Universal Credit and not thousands.