New universal credit change prompts Scots to get ready

Scottish benefits claimants are being advised to brace themselves for the next universal credit overhaul as notification letters land on doorsteps all over the country.

Advice Direct Scotland, the organisation behind the national advice service, has emphasised the importance of households gearing up for changes as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) moves more individuals to the single-payment system.

Universal credit (UC), gradually taking the place of six older forms of benefits and tax credits (referred to as legacy benefits), necessitates timely applications to avoid abrupt payment halts. In the latest round, those presently receiving Income-related employment support allowance alongside child tax credits will receive migration notices this month. Furthermore, letters outlining the necessary steps for the transition will be sent to pension-age recipients of tax credits.

It’s pivotal for individuals to note that the shift to UC is not automatic, and they must apply by the deadline stated in the letter, usually within three months. Failure to apply on time will lead to payment discontinuation. Those unable to meet the UC application deadline can seek an extension from the DWP, as long as the request is made before the specified date in their correspondence.

Advice Direct Scotland stresses the significance of checking mail diligently to avoid ignoring or discarding migration notices. Some claimants may receive less money under UC compared to their previous benefits. In such instances, they can apply for ‘transitional protection payments’ to bridge the financial gap. To qualify for these extra payments, individuals must have received a migration notice and apply within the deadline stipulated in their letter.

UC payments are typically issued monthly. In Scotland, recipients can opt to receive payments twice a month and may also choose to have a portion of their UC sent directly to their landlord.

It’s crucial for individuals accustomed to weekly or fortnightly benefit payments to review their finances and recurring payments. They should assess their financial readiness before the switch and contemplate altering their payment frequency. Additionally, if feasible, setting aside a portion of money weekly can help prepare for any payment hiatus during the transition.

Those feeling anxious or uncertain about the process can seek assistance from’s benefits advisers, who can assist in maximising their entitled support.

For support, contact the team on 0808 800 9060 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm) or visit

Advice Direct Scotland also provides an online benefits calculator to help individuals evaluate their eligibility for both devolved and reserved benefits.

Conor Forbes, the policy director at Advice Direct Scotland, stated: “As the transition to universal credit unfolds and thousands more Scots are informed of the change, it is crucial that people comprehend the upcoming steps and the impact on them.

“We urge households to monitor their correspondence and remember that the shift to universal credit is not automatic. We recognise that many Scots are facing significant financial difficulties due to the cost-of-living crisis, making it more important than ever for them to access their entitled support.

“Once individuals receive their migration notice, they should utilise the three-month timeframe to reassess everything and ensure they are prepared to apply for universal credit, as well as any potential ‘transitional protection’ they may be eligible for. Help is available for those who are concerned or confused.

“At Advice Direct Scotland, we extend a variety of services to all in Scotland at no cost, irrespective of personal circumstances.”

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