Moving onto Universal Credit – podcast transcript

This podcast is one of a series produced by Contact about the benefits system. It looks at the different ways that someone might move onto Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is a new benefit for people of working age and it’s replacing 6 existing benefits. These are:

These benefits are known as the legacy benefits.

If you currently claim one of these legacy benefits there are three different ways in which you could end up claiming Universal Credit.

Firstly, some people choose to claim Universal Credit because they think they might get more Universal Credit than they currently receive in legacy benefits. While it’s true that some people are better off on Universal Credit, many families are worse off. In fact, families with a disabled child are often at greater risk of being worse off than other families.

Because of this, its really important that you get detailed individual advice from a benefits adviser before volunteering to claim Universal Credit early, as there will be no transitional protection to make sure you aren’t left worse off. Once you claim Universal Credit you cannot go back to your old benefits at a later date – so get advice first.

The second way you might move onto Universal Credit is through having a change of circumstances that means you have little option but to claim. This is known as natural migration onto Universal Credit. Not all changes of circumstances will lead to you needing to claim Universal Credit – it’s only a change that means a new means tested benefit claim is needed.

For instance, if you’re a couple on tax credits and you separate, your couples tax credit claim will end. It’s not possible to make a new claim for tax credits as a single person, so you will need to consider claiming Universal Credit instead. Or if you are renter who gets Housing Benefit and you move to a different local authority area, your Housing Benefit claim will end. If you want help with rent in your new area you will need to consider claiming Universal Credit.

Claiming Universal Credit through natural migration will mean that any other legacy benefits you get will have to stop. It’s up to you whether you claim Universal Credit after a change of circumstances or not – but some people may feel they have little real option. It’s still always best to get individual advice though, as people who move onto Universal Credit through natural migration don’t get transitional protection to make sure they are not worse off.

The third way that someone can end up on Universal Credit is through ‘managed migration’. Managed migration is a process where the Department of Work and Pensions write to you telling you that your current legacy benefits are ending and asking you to make a claim for Universal Credit within a three-month deadline. Managed migration is gradually being rolled out across the country. See Contact’s website for up to date details of the areas where it applies. Currently about 30,000 claimants a month are being asked to claim Universal Credit but this figure will soon rise.

Once you are selected for managed migration you will not be moved over automatically – instead you need to make a claim for Universal Credit and will have a deadline to do this by. So long as you claim Universal Credit via managed migration, you will be eligible for transitional protection.

Transitional protection means that if your Universal Credit payments are lower than your legacy benefits, you can get top up payments to make sure that you aren’t left worse off. It’s important to remember that only those people who move onto Universal Credit via managed migration are able to get transitional protection

Once you’ve been selected for managed migration, you will receive a letter telling you this. This letter is known as a managed migration notice. You will know that you have a managed migration notice as the letter gives you a deadline date by which you are asked to claim Universal Credit.

For more information, listen to our podcast on what you should do if you receive a managed migration notice.