More than a half a million benefit claimants need to “take action” to avoid having their payments stopped, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has warned.

People claiming one of six ‘legacy benefits’ will start to receive letters asking them to move over to Universal Credit.

The process, known as managed migration, is gradually notifying claimants of the legacy benefits of the changes.

The migration notice must be responded to promptly, with the DWP saying people will have three months to claim Universal Credit or risk losing their benefit entitlements.

The deadline for responding will be stated on your letter.

The move may well have an impact on the amount of money those currently on legacy benefits receive, with some finding themselves better off and some finding themselves worse off.

However, top up payments will be available for eligible claimants whose payments are reduced as a result of the change.

The top up payments will continue until the claimant’s Universal Credit entitlement matches the amount they were receiving on legacy benefits.

The plans to move people over to Universal Credit will affect people claiming six types of support:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Working Tax Credit

The DWP guidance says: "On Universal Credit, most people will be entitled to the same amount they received from their previous benefits or more.

“If the amount you are entitled to on your existing benefits is more than you will get on Universal Credit, a top-up is available. This is called transitional protection.

"You can only get this top-up if you have received a Migration Notice letter from DWP and claim by the deadline date on your letter. If your circumstances change before you make your claim, this may affect the amount you get.

“You should claim as soon as possible to make sure the amount you are currently entitled to can be protected. Any transitional protection you receive as part of your Universal Credit claim may stop if you have a change in circumstances once you've made your claim."