Thank you to those who have contacted me about support for people on legacy benefits during the pandemic. Ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions have delivered measures designed to benefit those who are likely to be facing the most financial disruption during the pandemic.
New claimants will generally be receiving Universal Credit (UC). I would also emphasise that claimants on legacy benefits can make a claim for UC if they believe that they will be better off. However, claimants should check their eligibility before applying to UC as legacy benefits will end when a claim to UC is submitted. Claimants will not be able to return to legacy benefits in the future.
The Government has increased the budget for legacy benefits by £600m (1.7 per cent) from April 2020 and will raise it a further £100m (0.5 per cent) from April 2021 as part of the Government’s annual up-rating exercise.
It is important to add that temporary increases to UC and Tax Credits have been part of a wider support package including mortgage holidays and income protection schemes. The increase in Local Housing Allowance rates benefits both Universal Credit claimants and legacy claimants in receipt of housing support. The cost of this investment has been almost £1 billion and ensures that more than 1 million households will see an increase, on average, of £600 per year.
I hope that this provides additional detail to explain why the Government’s decisions in regard to UC do not always match decisions in relation to legacy benefit recipients.