Thousands of households continue to enjoy legacy benefits in Wrexham ahead of the government’s target to complete the rollout of Universal Credit by 2024, new figures show.
Debt charity StepChange said many claimants are pushed into hardship by having to wait more than a month for their first Universal Credit payment after migrating from old benefits.
And measures recently announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to help tackle the cost of living crisis have been criticized for not going far enough to help low-income households.
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In Wrexham, 6,107 households were applying for Universal Credit in February after being transferred from inherited benefits, while around 3,016 remained on the old system, according to figures from the House of Commons Library.
This means around 33% of households in the parliamentary constituency are still on old benefits, such as In-work Allowance, Income Support and Jobseeker’s Allowance, which are due to be fully replaced in two years.
In Clwyd South, 5,454 households claimed Universal Credit in February, including around 2,750 on the old system. This means that around 34% of households in the parliamentary constituency are still receiving older allowances.
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StepChange said the move from inherited benefits to Universal Credit – which bundles six means-tested benefit payments into one monthly deposit – is difficult because new claimants have to wait five weeks for their first payment, which means some people need a budget advance, while others may be pushed into debt.
Ed McDonagh, Senior Public Policy Advocate, said: “Overall, Universal Credit can work to support people, but it also has features that can cause real hardship and can actually make people more indebted so that they try to circumvent them.”
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Across Britain, 4.8 million households applied for Universal Credit in February, or 66% of the total number of beneficiaries.
This means that 34% of households continue to receive inherited benefits despite the rollout from 2013.
In his spring statement, Mr Sunak did not respond to calls to increase Universal Credit and legacy benefits in line with inflation – meaning many will see a reduction in benefits in real terms from April – announcing instead that £12m would be provided to cut taxes. credit error and fraud and “in turn supporting a smooth transition to Universal Credit”.