Hundreds of people in Darlington lose benefits in Universal Credit switch

Stock pic of a job centre <i>(Image: PA)</i>
Stock pic of a job centre (Image: PA)

Hundreds of people in Darlington have been stripped of their benefits during the ongoing switch to Universal Credit, new figures show.

Universal Credit was introduced in 2013 to replace several existing benefits, in a bid to simplify the benefit system.

People receiving Jobseekers’ Allowance, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit among others are gradually being transferred onto Universal Credit, with the Department for Work and Pension (DWP) resuming the issuing of migration notices in July 2022 following the coronavirus pandemic.

But payments to many receiving these older benefits were stopped completely, rather than moving to the new system.

DWP figures show around 1,640 migration notices had been submitted to legacy benefit and tax credit claimants in Darlington between July 2022 and March.

Of these notices, approximately 560 (34%) cases were closed, resulting in someone losing their benefits.

Anti-poverty charity Turn2Us said it is "deeply concerned" hundreds of thousands of people across Britain have lost support as they move from legacy benefits to Universal Credit.

Claire Atchia McMaster, director of income and external affairs at the charity, said many claiming legacy benefits have complex needs and may lack digital access to manage their support.

She added: "It is vital the process of contacting and supporting these people is not rushed, ensuring they are given adequate time, accessible information and personalised support to move over to Universal Credit."

In Darlington, around 3% of people sent a migration notice are yet to transfer to Universal Credit.

Ms McMaster continued: "Disruption to benefits payments alongside the five-week wait for Universal Credit could cause serious harm to their finances and lives."

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A DWP spokesperson said: "The majority of tax credit claimants have successfully moved to Universal Credit.

"Our statistics show that only 30 people logged complaints while over half a million households had been invited to move to Universal Credit by the end of March.

"There is a range of support available to help people move, including extensions for those who need extra support."