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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? 

 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. 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

2. 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?

3. 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 timetable below. For more details on this, see our more detailed guide to Universal Credit 

Before managed migration, it is important those on legacy benefits find out if they would be better off or worse off on Universal Credit. See Would I be better off or worse off on Universal Credit? below

Managed migration timetable

Small pilots first

In 2022, the 'managed migration' process re-started on a small scale with the DWP writing to small numbers of legacy benefit claimants in various areas giving them 3 months or so to claim UC and that their legacy benefits will then stop. Those areas included 250 Tax Credit claimants in Northumberland and in the Cornwall District in February 2023. We have been told Avon, Somerset and Gloucester from April 2023 and East London and Cheshire from May 2023.

The big roll out

The Government plan to increase the numbers in 2023 and have the process ended by early 2025 has been changed. In November 2022 the Autumn Statement announced a two-tiered roll-out: "The government is pushing back the managed migration of claimants on income-related Employment and Support Allowance (with the exception of those receiving Child Tax Credit) to Universal Credit to 2018." In January 2023, the government document Completing the move to Universal Credit: Learning from the Discovery Phase and a press release on press release on 28 March 2023 gave more detail. Based on this, we think the roll out process is as follows:

  • Some more pilots will take place in early 2023/24
  • From April 2023 for about a year, the DWP plan to manage migrate those solely in receipt of working tax credit and/or child tax credit
  • In 2024/25 DWP plan to manage migrate the remaining tax credit cases (which also receive DWP benefits) and Income Support, Housing Benefit and Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • By the end of 2024/25 DWP will have completed the moves of all legacy cases with tax credits (including those on both ESA and tax credits), all cases on Income Support (IS) and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and all Housing Benefit (HB) only cases
  • The remaining ESA cases will not be manage migrated till 2028/29

As a consequence, the Housing Benefit and Pension Credit merger is also delayed till 2028

These government webpages explain the overall situation:

Completing the move to Universal Credit

Tax credits and some benefits are ending

 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 should 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

IMPORTANT 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 and could actually make you worse off. 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 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 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:

The services that can help are listed 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?

The services that can help you are listed in our webpage: Universal Credit support in Newcastle

5. More information

See our basic guide to Universal Credit and the more detailed guide to Universal Credit

See 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

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