Benefit claimants in Harrow will start to receive Migration Notice letters from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) from today (August 15th) informing them they are required to move to Universal Credit to retain their financial support.
The first 250 claimants will receive the notice letters after the DWP recently resumed its plans to move all claimants currently receiving any of six benefits known as ‘legacy benefits’ over to Universal Credit by the end of 2024.
The six legacy benefits being replaced (Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Income Support and Housing Benefit for those of working age) all have complex and inefficient systems based on ageing, inflexible IT.
Universal Credit on the other hand uses a modern, digital system that more than proved its worth during Covid-19 where it quickly ensured three million new claimants were protected from the financial impact of the pandemic. Not all legacy benefit claimants in Harrow will receive a letter requiring them to move to Universal Credit during this phase, but a group of 250 will start to receive letters from August 15th onwards.
When claimants receive their Migration Notice letter, it will contain information needed to move to Universal Credit. This will include the exact date they need to claim by – which will give them three months to do so – as well as the next steps they need to take and other important information to help them make their claim.
A dedicated helpline – signposted on the letter claimants receive – will provide support to make their Universal Credit claim, and guidance will be available online. Those in need of further support can also visit their local job centre, at Queens House, Clarendon Road, Harrow.
Claimants can also use the separate Help to Claim service for support.
Minister for Welfare Delivery, David Rutley said: “Universal Credit supported millions of people during the pandemic, and it continues to provide crucial financial support.
“It is an accessible and secure benefit supporting people’s needs from month to month and opens up tailored support, helping customers get into and progress in work.”
Harrow already has just over 21,000 Universal Credit claimants. The benefit provides those who receive it with one-to-one tailored support to help them into employment or to further their career if they are able to work, while people with a health condition or disability who cannot work could receive almost £350 a month on top of the Universal Credit standard allowance. More details about Universal Credit can be found on the Understanding Universal Credit website at understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk.
Everyone receiving a letter will have their entitlement to Universal Credit assessed against their current legacy benefits, with top-up payments known as transitional protection available for eligible claimants whose entitlement would otherwise have been reduced because of the change. This ensures they receive the same entitlement as on the legacy system at the point they move to Universal Credit.
This will continue unless their circumstances change. Claimants will receive a two-week run-on of their Income Support, Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance, or Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance. Those moving from Housing Benefit will receive a two-week transition to Universal Credit Housing Payment.
Additional further support remains available for those in need, including the Household Support Fund and Discretionary Housing Payments. If you do not receive a letter notifying you to move to Universal Credit, you do not have to do anything, and you will continue receiving your current legacy benefits.
However, if you think you would be better off on Universal Credit you can check your entitlement for the benefit using an independent benefits calculator, with a guide on how to apply also on the Understanding Universal Credit website.
People who are unsure whether they would be better off should wait until they receive a letter, as the transitional protection top-up payments only apply to claimants moved by DWP, and people cannot reclaim their old benefits after moving to Universal Credit.