The move to Universal Credit

The move to Universal Credit

This webpage should be read alongside our other webpages Universal Credit (UC), the more detailed guide to Universal Credit and UC support in Newcastle

 The aim of this page is to explain:

 1. How are people moving onto UC?

 2. Do I have a choice in moving to UC?

 3. Would I be better off or worse off on Universal Credit? 

- How to work it out myself

- Who can help if I can't

 4. If I am struggling to make a claim for UC or manage my UC claim, who can help me?

1. How are people moving onto UC - including news and guidance?

Universal Credit is replacing six means tested benefits Income Support, income-based Jobseekers Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits. They are called ‘legacy benefits’. UC is not replacing any other benefits, like pension age Housing Benefit, Housing Benefit in special accommodation, Council Tax Support and all other benefits. More information on the difference between UC and legacy benefits

 There are 3 main ways you may need to make a claim for UC:

 1. You are on legacy benefit(s) and have a change in circumstances that would mean a new claim for another legacy benefit. It is not normally possible to claim a legacy benefit. Instead, you will be told to claim UC and all your legacy benefits will be stopped. This is called ‘natural migration’. 

However, sometimes you don’t have to claim UC and you have a choice. See below Do I have a choice in moving to UC?

2. In the next few years, the Government will write to those still on legacy benefits saying they have to claim UC and their legacy benefits will stop after a while. This is called ‘managed migration’. See 'news and guidance' below and our more detailed guide to Universal Credit 

3. If you’re not on legacy benefits, then you should consider claiming UC if you are on a low income, to top up your wages, need help with rent and so on

News and guidance

The  'managed migration' process has started  on a small scale with the DWP writing to small numbers of legacy benefit claimants in Bolton and Medway, Cornwall, Harrow and 250 Tax Credit claimants in Northumberland in mid September, giving them 3 months or so to claim UC and that their legacy benefits will stop. The Government plan to increase the numbers in 2023 and have the process ended by the end of 2024.

A Government policy paper: Completing the move to Universal Credit - GOV.UK gives more explanation

New Government webpage: Tax credits and some benefits are ending: claim Universal Credit - GOV.UK includes:

  • What to do if you receive a 'Migration Notice'
  • How to claim Universal Credit
  • When you need to act
  • Payments
  • Help for those in financial difficulties 
  • A Universal Credit Migration Notice helpline including Telephone: 0800 169 0328, Relay UK etc

 2. Do I have a choice in moving to UC?

If you are on legacy benefits and have a change in circumstances, you may have to claim UC but you may not. You may have a choice.

For example, if you are on Housing Benefit and move tenancy in the same Local Authority, your Housing Benefit continues and you do not have to claim UC but if you move to another Local Authority, that is a new claim for Housing Benefit, so you have to claim UC and your legacy benefit(s) will end 

This table lists some changes in circumstances when you have to claim Universal Credit and when you do not 

If you do have a choice you may be better off on UC but you may also be worse off and it may be advisable to wait for managed migration if possible. Read on...

3. Would I be better off or worse off on UC?

The following information may help you decide if you would be better or worse off on UC:

It is complicated and you do not want to make the wrong decision. If you are unsure, you should seek advice - see below

Self-help calculators help you compare your legacy benefits with Universal Credit

Our basic guide to Universal Credit and the more detailed guide to Universal Credit

DWP information Understanding Universal Credit, Universal Credit and you and this new document Completing the Move to Universal Credit, which has examples of those who may be better and worse off.

To help you understand what changes you may need to make, the government have also produced an online Universal Credit personal planner, 'getting ready for Universal Credit'.

DWP YouTube videos, for example Is Universal Credit for me? and What support is available to me?

More detailed guides include Tax credits - moving on to Universal Credit factsheet by CPAG and UC law and guidance from Revenuebenefits and Rightsnet

It's not just a financial comparison between the amounts you'd be entitled to, there are some aspects of Universal Credit that can cause problems for people - here are some examples to take into account:

  • UC is paid monthly in arrears
  • You have to wait at least 5 weeks for the first payment after a new claim
  • You are expected to normally claim and manage UC online
  • The help with rent is paid with your UC, and you then have to pay the rent yourself to the landlord
  • There are more work related requirements in UC 
  • After a new claim for UC, old/historical Tax Credit arrears may be deducted from your UC
  • If your UC is lower than your 'legacy benefits' you drop down to that level. The only time you are protected from a drop is if you have the Severe Disability Premium paid with some of your legacy benefits and when 'managed migration' applies - see How are people moving onto UC above

This toolkit for advisers may help you decide

We have produced a Universal Credit natural migration toolkit for advisers and those who support people with Universal Credit (pdf 236kb). It gives examples of where someone might be better off and worse off claiming Universal Credit. They are only examples, and more than one example may apply. 

If I can’t figure it out myself, who can help me - nationally and in Newcastle?

Nationally, organisations that support people often have helplines that may be able to advise, for example CarersUKWorking families and Money Helper says ‘If you’re on Universal Credit or think you might be using it in the future, our Money Manager tool can help guide you’

In Newcastle:

This is covered in detail in our webpage: Universal Credit support in Newcastle

4. If I am struggling to make a claim for UC or to manage my claim, who can help me?

This is covered in detail in our webpage: Universal Credit support in Newcastle

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