Universal Credit is replacing six legacy benefits which are: Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, in
Universal Credit is replacing six legacy benefits which are: Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support and Working Tax Credit. However, this is a phased change, which means some people are still claiming under the old system of benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). As a result of the coronavirus crisis, the government agreed to raise Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit payments by £20 a week.
This policy is to last 12 months, and was designed to help those on low income or out of work navigate the complex financial circumstances often brought about by COVID-19.
However, the Work and Pensions Committee has stated many people are still struggling under the current measure in place.
The committee has said those on the older system of benefits have not received the same help, and thus there is disparity in the system as it stands.
The group, which draws together MPs from all parties, said: “It is unacceptable that people have been left facing hardship through no fault of their own, simply because of the outdated and complex way in which so-called legacy benefits are administered.”
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The report found the pandemic caused severe issues for many individuals, with several unable to meet the costs of essentials.
Disabled people were also hit hardest, with increased costs of care and rising food prices leaving them struggling to cope.
The committee also analysed the Universal Credit system, and criticised the minimum five week wait for a first payment, and the burden an Advance can cause.
The Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, the Rt Hon Stephen Timms, commented on the group’s findings.
He said: “DWP’s frontline staff have worked hard to get support to millions of people. Without their actions, the impact of the pandemic could have been much worse.
“But the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted weaknesses in a social security system which at times is too inflexible and slow to adapt to support people in times of crisis.
“The focus has mostly been on the unprecedented numbers of new claims for Universal Credit. But in the background, people on legacy benefits have slipped down the list of priorities.
“It’s now time for the government to redress that balance and increase legacy benefits too. It’s simply not right for people to miss out on support just because they happen, through no fault of their own, to be claiming the ‘wrong’ kind of benefit.”
At present, the Department for Work and Pensions is slowly phasing in the Universal Credit system, so there is a split between people claiming different benefits.
Those who are currently claiming any one of the six legacy benefits do not currently need to take any action, except in two instances.
If a person has a change of circumstances they need to report, this could affect the benefits they receive.
Secondly, if the DWP contacts a person about moving to Universal Credit then their benefits are likely to change.
Those who claim Universal Credit will not be able to go back to the benefits it is replacing.
Citizens Advice states that anyone who is currently claiming a legacy benefit is likely to be moved onto the newer Universal Credit system by 2023 at the latest.