THOUSANDS of households still remain on old benefit plans, ahead of the Government’s target to complete the Universal Credit rollout by 2024.

In Braintree, 5,816 households were claiming Universal Credit in February after being transferred from legacy benefits, while an estimated 2,706 remained on the old system, according to figures from the House of Commons library

This means about 32 per cent of households are still on older benefits, such as Employment Allowance, Income Support and Jobseeker’s Allowance, which are set to be fully replaced in two years’ time.

In Witham, it was 4.754 households, with 2,212 on old schemes, also 32 per cent.

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The figures come after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced measures to help with the cost-of-living crisis, which have been criticised for not going far enough to help low-income households.

In his spring statement, Mr Sunak did not respond to calls to increase Universal Credit and legacy benefits in line with inflation.

StepChange are concerned moving from old benefits to Universal Credit is challenging because new claimants must wait five weeks for their first instalment, with some needing a budgeting advance, while others could be pushed into debt.

Senior public policy advocate for StepChange Ed McDonagh said: "Overall, Universal Credit can work to support people, but it also has features that can cause real hardship and can actually worsen people’s debt as they try to work around them."