Hundreds of thousands of Brits could be at risk of losing benefits accidentally when moving to Universal Credit, Lords fear

Peers have raised major concerns about 745,000 people currently on ESA benefit who are "especially vulnerable" and will struggle to make a new claim for the flagship welfare system.

Just over a third of the people who are set to be migrated over are on long-term benefits and might not even need to make a new claim at all, a new report from the House of Lords Scrutiny Committee said today.

But ministers have said that everyone will have to apply for Universal Credit within three months of being asked to, or they will see their benefits stopped.

Most of the people who are on ESA are unable to work and "greater flexibility" should be given to make sure they don't lose their benefits, Peers recommended.

10,000 people are set to go onto the new benefits system next year, and millions more will be rolled onto it after that.

But peers said the current plans were "vague and aspirational".

And they argued that claimants shouldn't be "forced into debt" because they weren't given enough money to last the changeover period.

Many Brits have said they have racked up huge debts waiting for their first benefits payments to come through, which can take five weeks or even longer.

The report concluded: "We take the view that the House has been given insufficient detail to make an informed decision about DWP’s proposals.

"Given the large number of unknowns, and the particular difficulty and risks involved in transferring three quarters of a million very vulnerable claimants to Universal Credit, it seems that DWP may have acted prematurely in seeking such extensive powers."

Peers said the Department for Work and Pensions might be trying to achieve too much at once, and it raised serious concerns about whether it would be able to cope with all the people going onto the new system.

The DWP has insisted it can't use the information that's already in the system for benefits claimants, and argued that the data was often out of date and full of errors.

The Department has been approached for comment on the Lords' recommendations.

Yesterday one MP told how Brits applying for the new system were told they had to fork out £34 for a driving licence if they didn't have a form of ID.

And a teen mum on Universal Credit said she and her partner couldn't afford to take her ill baby to surgery, and was forced to crowd fund the money instead.


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