Rishi Sunak baffles MP with claims Universal Credit is 'generous'
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The process was paused during the pandemic, but now the Government aims to phase everyone on to the new system by the end of 2024. Benefits claimants could see their payments cut off if they miss a deadline to apply for Universal Credit under plans that affect 2.6 million households.
Claimants will be given a minimum of three months’ notice that they need to make a Universal Credit claim and given the number for a helpline, Sky News reported.
Various charities have said that if people do not apply by the deadline, the DWP will be able to stop their existing claim.
More than 20 charities have urged the Government not to resume moving people receiving older benefits on to Universal Credit unless it can guarantee nobody’s income will be cut off during the cost-of-living crisis.
Groups have written to Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey warning that plans to move legacy benefit claimants on to the new system are “too dangerous to continue”.
They also said it is “unacceptable” that the Government will trial the process using 500 people as “guinea pigs”.
Figures from the DWP have shown that up to 900,000 will be worse off once moved onto Universal Credit.
Officials have claimed 55 percent will be better off on the new benefit and people won’t lose money overnight, but some will be worse off in the long term as living standards drop to their lowest level in 50 years.
The incomes of more than 700,000 people with mental health problems, learning disabilities and dementia could also be put at risk, charities have warned.
In the letter to Ms Coffey, the groups wrote: “We believe that your approach for moving people receiving older benefits on to Universal Credit risks pushing many of them into destitution.
“We ask you to consider the devastating consequences for someone who faces challenges in engaging with the process having their only income cut off, especially during this cost-of-living crisis.”
In a written statement submitted to the House of Commons on April 25, Ms Coffey said she is “absolutely committed to making this a responsible and safe transition”.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind and a signatory, said: “The DWP’s managed migration plans could leave people with mental health problems with no income.
“Those too unwell to engage with the DWP could be left unable to pay their rent, buy food, or pay their rising energy bills.
“During a cost-of-living crisis, this could put the entire incomes of over 700,000 people with mental health problems, learning disabilities and dementia at risk. This is completely unacceptable.
“The DWP should halt this process until they can guarantee they will not stop anyone’s old benefits until they have successfully made a claim to Universal Credit.”
Only around 500 people will be moved to UC at first, but the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will ramp up the pace after a few months.
Express.co.uk has contacted the Department for Work and Pensions for comment.
A DWP spokesman said: “Over five million people are already supported by Universal Credit.
“It is a dynamic system which adjusts as people’s earnings change, is more generous overall than the old benefits, and simplifies our safety net for those who cannot work.
“Roughly 1.4 million people on legacy benefits would be better off on Universal Credit, with top up payments available for eligible claimants whose Universal Credit entitlement is less.”
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