Legacy benefits and the Universal Credit cut

28th Jul 2021

People receiving legacy benefits have been excluded from the £20 increase in support to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit. This means they will not be directly affected by the cut in October. However, to work towards having a strong social security system that works for everyone, we need to tell the Government not to cut Universal Credit and to instead increase legacy benefits.

In March 2020, as we were faced with the economic fallout from the pandemic, the Government recognised that our social security rates were too low and increased Universal Credit (UC) and Working Tax Credit (WTC) by £20 a week.

But people receiving legacy benefits, including Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance and Income Support have been excluded from this vital improvement in support, and that’s wrong.

It is not right that families on legacy benefits – the majority of which include someone who is sick, disabled or caring – have not had equivalent support purely because they are in another part of the system.

What this cut will mean for you

In October 2021, the Government plans to cut £20 a week from UC and WTC (removing the increase that was temporarily given at the start of the pandemic). The cut will not affect your payments if you are receiving legacy benefits.

Find out how the cut will affect you if you receive Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit.

What you can do

Social security must be strong enough for us all to rely on when we need a

lifeline. As we look to rebuild our society, ‘level up’ and ‘build back better’, it would make no sense at all to weaken social security support this October by cutting Universal Credit. Instead, the Government should make this investment permanent and ensure that all families on legacy benefits are also included.

Write to your MP to tell them why the Government must make the right choice this autumn:

  • Choose to protect people when they need support, not cut them adrift.
  • Choose a social security system that enables families to escape from poverty.
  • Choose to open up options and opportunities for people to improve their lives.
  • Keep the lifeline, and extend it to people receiving legacy benefits.

How to write to your MP

  1. Use the template below to write a personalised email to your MP.
  2. Go to https://www.writetothem.com/ and enter your postcode. Scroll down to find ‘Your MP’ and click on their name.
  3. Copy and paste the letter you’ve drafted.
  4. Follow the instructions on the website to send your letter.

Tips for sharing your experience

Consider the following questions when writing your message:

  • What does your household look like? Do you have children?
  • How long have you been receiving this benefit? Are you working or unemployed? How has the pandemic impacted you?
  • Are you managing to afford the rent, other bills and essentials?
  • What are your concerns about the future? What will happen if your level of support is not improved?

Include how benefits support you in normal times, not just during the challenges of the pandemic. We want to show MPs that social security is a vital public service that needs to meet people’s needs always, not just in a pandemic.

Your MP will want to hear how their decisions are affecting people's level of debt or affecting your ability to pay rent or bills. They will want to know if their choices have affected your children's or your family's health. Include your experience of these things if you feel comfortable.

Do remember to be polite – even when it is tempting not to be. They are human and we want them to support the cause!

Template for writing to your MP

Dear XXX MP,

I am writing to you about the continuing and unjust exclusion of people receiving legacy benefits such as Employment Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Income Support from the vital £20-a-week improvement in support that people claiming Universal Credit (UC) have seen.
[Let your MP know your family situation and what benefit you are entitled to.]

The standard allowance of UC and the basic rates of the older benefits that UC is set to replace have always been the same, as they are both meant to cover the same core living costs. Families on legacy benefits have been missing out on this essential improvement to our social security system since March 2020, just because they are in a different part of the system. This injustice is now being legally challenged and has been granted permission by the High Court for judicial review. It is not right that ESA claimants are having to take the Government to court for equal treatment.

The pandemic has shown us that life is full of things we can’t plan for. Social security must be strong enough for us all to rely on when we need a lifeline. Rather than cutting the incomes of families on UC this October, the Government should instead be making that vital investment permanent and ensuring that families like mine are no longer excluded.

I am hoping that, as my MP, you will raise these concerns about this injustice, and the importance of a strong social security system for our recovery, in parliament, as well as writing to the Chancellor and Ministers.

Kind regards,