Thank you for contacting me about increasing legacy benefits during the pandemic. I have read your email carefully and have noted the key points that you make.
I have been encouraged by the Government’s clear commitment to supporting people through this challenging time with unprecedented packages of support rolled out for businesses and individuals alike. I also welcome that additional support has been provided through the welfare system, representing an injection of around £9.3 billion, which is a huge sum of money.
As I understand it from discussions with colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions, the Government has delivered a range of measures that can be quickly and effectively operationalised to benefit those facing the most financial disruption during the pandemic. It is important to remember that new claimants will generally be receiving Universal Credit (UC) already and people 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 as legacy benefits will end when they submit their claim and they will not be able to return to them in the future.
It is important to add that those on legacy benefits may have benefitted from other support such as mortgage holidays and the 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. In addition to the extra support provided through Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit, the legacy benefits were increased by 1.7 per cent in April 2020 following the announcement to end the benefit freeze.
I will continue to monitor this issue carefully and raise your specific concerns with my ministerial colleagues whenever appropriate.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking