From Monday 9th May, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have started moving people on older benefits such as Employment Support Allowance onto Universal Credit. The Government is hoping to complete the transition by 2024.
This is called “Managed Migration” and will affect people on the following types of benefits
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
Managed Migration means that the rules are different. Previously, if you were on a legacy benefit, you were able to stay on that benefit unless your circumstances changed. This could be due to ending a relationship or moving into a different area. When this happened, you would have to make a claim for Universal Credit. Over time, this would mean people passively move over onto Universal Credit.
Overall, this meant that you had a choice about what you wanted to claim, and you choose the benefit that left you better off.
Managed Migration is different as the DWP is actively moving people onto Universal Credit. The DWP will notify you via a formal notice. Once this happens, you have to move onto Universal Credit or your benefits will stop.
This is the case even if you are going to be worse off.
Do I have to move now?
From 9th May, the DWP has begun the process of writing to everyone on legacy benefits to require them to make the transition. Until the DWP has sent you a letter requiring you to move, you can continue to remain on your current benefits. They are aiming to complete the process by 2024 so in the long term, you will have to move eventually.
What is important is that once you make the claim and move over, you cannot go back to your previous benefit. So we would advise anyone on the legacy benefits noted above to get advice first before making the transition. This is the case, even if you have received a notice that you have to move as you can make sure your payments are correct and you are getting everything that you are entitled to.
Am I going to be worse off?
The rules around benefits can be complicated and they take into account lots of different details and information about your circumstances. Without that information, it is impossible to say whether you will be worse off without doing a benefit check.
As a general rule, some types of people are more likely to be worse off or better off but there aren’t any simple general rules unfortunately.
There are some rules about ensuring that people who receive additional payments are not in a worse position on Universal Credit. This is called transitional protection. Where this applies, you receive extra elements in your Universal Credit to ensure you are not worse off.
What is significant is that these payments will decrease over time. This is because the additional payments are ‘eroded’ as benefit rates are adjusted along with inflation. In the long term this means your payments will decrease. There are also ways in which you can lose these additional payments due to changes in your circumstances, so it is a good idea to make sure you get advice so you do not lose out unnecessarily.
Going onto Universal Credit can be a big step so it makes best sense to get some advice about what your benefits will look like when you make the transition. The other benefit to getting advice is that you can check about any other benefits you may be eligible for, such as Council Tax Support or Discretionary Housing Payments which people can be missing out on.
At Vauxhall Law Centre we can look at your benefits with you and offer you advice. We also run a debt and housing Service. If you would like assistance please contact us on 0151 360 7777 and leave us a message with your name and phone number.
Alternatively, you can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org