Money Wellness
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category iconbenefits
calendar icon31 Aug 2023

Thousands have their benefits stopped after failing to complete move from tax credits to universal credit

A leading charity has called for the government to provide more support to families moving from tax credits to universal credit after it was revealed that 28% had failed to complete the process, resulting in their benefits being stopped.

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) believe families are currently not getting enough help with the ‘managed migration’ process and are being left without money to live on.

‘Managed migration’ was introduced to streamline the benefits system, making people claiming tax credits and other benefits – known as legacy benefits – switch to universal credit.

Managed migration started on a small-scale last year and is being rolled out in stages. It was scaled up in April this year to focus on single, tax credit-only claimants, many of whom work.

If you receive a letter from the DWP advising you to complete the migration process, you have three months to take action before your benefits are stopped.

CPAG analysis of DWP’s figures reveals that only two thirds of people (1,800) sent a migration notice between November 2022 and March 2023 made a successful universal credit claim before their migration deadline. A further 5% (140) made a claim after the deadline had passed, and 28% (770) did not claim universal credit at all and had their current benefit payments stopped.

By the end of this financial year, the DWP plans to have sent 500,000 tax-credit claiming households a migration notice asking them to being the process. If the proportion of no-claims remains the same, then 140,000 households could have their current benefits stopped.

 

How do you know if you’ll be affected by the migration?

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has already written to thousands of people currently claiming tax credits to tell them they must switch over to universal credit. Thousands more people will receive the letter later in the year.

The process, known as managed migration, is being done to streamline and simplify the benefits system by bringing together people on six legacy benefits into one offering – universal credit.

Those legacy benefits include:

  • working tax credits
  • housing benefit
  • income support
  • income-related employment and support allowance (ESA)
  • income-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA)
  • child tax credit. 

Other benefits, such as personal independence payment (PIP), will stay the same.

Anyone who receives a letter must begin claiming universal credit by the deadline date given in their letter if they wish to continue to receive financial support.

What’s universal credit?

Universal credit is a payment to help with your living costs. You may be eligible if you’re on a low income, out of work or can’t work.

Universal credit payments are paid less frequently than tax credit – usually monthly – and are claimed and managed online, with claimants having their income assessed each month to ensure they’re still eligible for the benefit.

Who’s entitled to universal credit?

Universal credit is for people who:

  • Are on low income
  • Need help with living costs
  • Are working (including self-employed or part time)
  • Are out of work

How do you claim universal credit?

You can apply for universal credit online at www.gov.uk.

You’ll need to create an account to make a claim, and you must claim within 28 days of creating the account or you’ll have to start again.

To apply online you’ll need:

  • your bank, building society or credit union account details
  • an email address
  • access to a phone

You’ll also have to prove your identity so will need some documents, such as:

  • driving licence
  • passport
  • debit or credit card
  • payslip or P60

To complete your claim, you’ll also need to provide information about:

  • your housing e.g. how much rent you pay
  • your earnings e.g. payslips
  • any disability or health condition that affects your work
  • how much you pay for childcare if you want help with childcare costs
  • your savings and any investments such as shares or property that you rent out

You might need an appointment with the universal credit team if they need more information from you or can’t verify you online. This appointment will either be in a local jobcentre or on the phone.

If you can’t claim universal credit by the deadline date given in the letter, you should contact the universal credit migration notice helpline on 0800 169 0328 immediately.

Are there any exceptions to the universal credit rules when migrating?

If you receive a migration notice letter from DWP, then some of the normal universal credit rules won’t apply to you. These are:

  • Tax credits – if you receive tax credits you can make a claim even if you have savings or capital more than £16,000. After 12 months normal eligibility rules will apply
  • Students – if you receive financial support from your current benefits, you can claim universal credit if you or your partner are in full-time advanced education (such as attending university)
Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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