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North-east residents urged to prepare for latest Universal Credit switch

By Kyle Ritchie

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North-east benefits claimants have been urged to prepare for the latest Universal Credit shake-up as notice letters arrive through letterboxes.

Advice Direct Scotland, which runs the national advice service advice.scot, said households should prepare for changes as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) switches more people to the single-payment system.

Universal Credit, which is gradually replacing six older forms of benefits and tax credits (known as legacy benefits), requires people to apply at the right time or risk their payments being stopped suddenly.

Some people who receive benefit payments are going to see changes.
Some people who receive benefit payments are going to see changes.

Under the latest phase, those currently receiving Income-related Employment Support Allowance with Child Tax Credits will be sent a migration notice this month.

Additionally, letters detailing the necessary steps for the switch will be sent to pension-age recipients of Tax Credits.

Advice Direct Scotland is reminding people that the move to Universal Credit is not automatic, and they will need to apply by the deadline stated in the letter, typically within three months.

Not applying in time will result in their payments being stopped.

Those unable to apply for Universal Credit by the deadline can request an extension from the DWP, provided they do so before the specified date in their letter.

Advice Direct Scotland stressed the need for people to check their mail and make sure they do not ignore or throw away migration notices.

Some people may receive less money on Universal Credit than they typically got from their previous benefits.

In such cases, they can apply for “transitional protection payments”, which are designed to bridge the gap.

To be eligible for these additional payments, claimants must have received a migration notice and apply by the deadline specified in their letter.

Universal Credit is usually paid once a month. In Scotland, individuals can request to receive payments twice a month instead.

They also have the option to have some of their Universal Credit paid directly to their landlord.

Advice Direct Scotland stressed that it is crucial for people who are used to receiving weekly or fortnightly benefit payments to check their bills and direct debits.

They should assess whether they can manage financially before the transition and consider requesting a change in how often they receive payments.

Additionally, if possible, it is advised to set aside some money every week to prepare for the gap in payments during the changeover.

Anyone feeling worried or unsure about what to do can reach out for support from advice.scot’s benefits advisers, who can also help ensure they are claiming all the support they are entitled to.

The team can be reached on 0808 800 9060 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm) or through www.advice.scot

Additionally, Advice Direct Scotland offers an online benefits calculator that helps individuals assess their entitlement to both devolved and reserved benefits.

Conor Forbes, policy director at Advice Direct Scotland, said: “As the transition to Universal Credit progresses, with thousands more Scots being notified of the switch, it’s crucial that people understand the next steps and how it will affect them.

“We urge households to check their mail and remember that the move to Universal Credit is not automatic.

“We understand that many Scots are facing significant financial challenges due to the cost-of-living crisis, so it's more important than ever that they receive all the support they are entitled to.

“Once people receive their migration notice, they should use the three-month window to review everything and ensure they are ready to apply for Universal Credit, as well as any 'transitional protection' they may be eligible for.

“Help is available for anyone who is worried or confused.

“At Advice Direct Scotland, we offer a wide range of services to everyone in Scotland at no cost, regardless of personal circumstances.”

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