Social Security Benefits: Coronavirus

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 11th June 2020.

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Photo of Matt Western Matt Western Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of increasing legacy benefits in line with the increase in universal credit during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

No such assessment has been made. The Government has announced a suite of measures that can be quickly and effectively operationalised to benefit those facing the most financial disruption during the pandemic.

We estimate that 2.5 million households receiving Universal Credit will benefit straight away from the increase in the standard allowance rates which was announced on 20 March, and which is additional to the planned annual uprating. New claimants who have either become unemployed, or whose earnings or work hours have decreased because of the outbreak, will benefit too; subject to their eligibility.

We have also made a number of changes to legacy and other working age benefits in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including increasing certain entitlements, such as Local Housing Allowance. Up-to-date information about the employment and benefits support available, including Universal Credit, Statutory Sick Pay, New style Jobseeker's Allowance, and Employment and Support Allowance, can be found here: www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/employment-and-benefits-support/.

It has always been the case 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 Universal Credit as legacy benefits will end when they submit their claim and they will not be able to return to them in the future. For this reason, prospective claimants are signposted to independent benefits calculators on GOV.UK. Neither DWP nor HMRC can advise individual claimants whether they would be better off moving to UC or remaining on legacy benefits.

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