Thank you to those who have contacted me recently about support for people on legacy benefits during the pandemic.
This is the biggest public health emergency in a generation. I am encouraged by the clear commitment to supporting people through this challenging time, with unprecedented packages of support rolled out for businesses and individuals alike.
The Government has delivered a suite of measures that can be quickly and effectively operationalised to benefit those likely to be facing the most financial disruption during the pandemic. It is important to remember that 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. I must stress that claimants will not be able to return to legacy benefits in the future.
Legacy benefits were increased by £600m (1.7 per cent) from April 2020 and will receive a further £100m (0.5 per cent) increase 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. This significant investment cost almost £1 billion and ensures that more than 1 million households will see an increase, on average, of £600 per year.
My colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions and the Treasury will continue to review how best to help vulnerable people.
Thank you again to those who took the time to raise this with me.