The move to Universal Credit

The move to Universal Credit


From Early January 2024, The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are writing to people claiming one or more of the following "Legacy" benefits asking them to make a claim for Universal Credit:

  • Tax Credits
  • Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-Related Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit

These letters are called "Migration Notices".  If you get one of these letters you need to make a claim for Universal Credit before the deadline date given on your letter.  If you do not make a claim by this deadline date your current benefits will stop.



How are people moving onto Universal Credit

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’. 

 There are 3 main reasons why you may need to make a claim for Universal Credit:

1.  New Claim: If you’re not already on one of those legacy benefits (listed above), then you should consider claiming Universal Credit if you are on a low income.  You can make a claim even if you are already working.

2. Change in Circumstances: You are receiving one of those legacy benefit(s) and have a change in circumstances that would mean a new claim for another legacy benefit. Instead, you will be told to claim Universal Credit and all your current legacy benefits will be stopped. This is called ‘natural migration’. 

3. Managed Migration: From April 2023 to 2024/25, the government are writing to those on legacy benefits inviting them to claim Universal Credit and their legacy benefits will stop after three months. This is called ‘managed migration’. The letter is called a 'migration notice'.  


Managed migration timetable.

From the dates below the government will start writing to people inviting them to claim Universal Credit.  They will sending you a "migration notice" which will have a deadline date in which you will need to claim Universal Credit.

  • From April 2023 to March 2024 -  Working Tax Credit and/or Child Tax Credit and not on any other 'legacy benefit'
  • April 2024 - Income Support claimants and those claiming Tax Credits with Housing Benefit
  • June 2024 - Housing Benefit only (not supported or temporary accommodation)
  • July 2024 - Employment Support Allowance (ESA) with Child Tax Credits (and Housing Benefit)
  • August 2024 -  Tax Credits claimants who are over state pension age.
  • September 2024 - Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) only (or ESA and Housing Benefit only); and Jobseeker's Allowance (and Housing Benefit).

The aim is that Migration Notices will have been sent to all legacy benefit claimants by the end of December 2025.

Some people will not receive a migration notice, such as:

  • People in prison
  • People who are within 6 months of State Pension age (as they will then be able to claim Pension Credit instead of Universal Credit).

Migration notices are being deferred for some, such as:

These groups are deferred (at the moment) from a MN:
Claimants aged 16 or 17 years old, who are claiming in their own right or as part of a couple claimTheir 18th birthday
Claimants whose mail has been returned as they are no longer living at the address it was sent to (Dead Letter Office)Their correct address can be established
Claimants with a child in non-advanced education who are aged 19The child reaches 20
Claimants with a visual impairmentThe migration notice is designed to be issued in braille and large print.
Claimants who require a home visitA process is designed for claimants on the Move to Universal Credit journey to have a home appointment.
Claimants who have an appointeeA process is designed to include them
Terminally ill claimantsA process is designed to include them, if that is appropriate in their circumstances.

Do I have a choice in moving to Universal Credit?

If you get a 'migration notice' letter you should not ignore it and you should claim Universal Credit within the deadline day on the letter to protect your income. Your 'legacy benefits' will normally stop after 3 months. More details: see our other webpage: I've received an invite to claim Universal Credit - what should I do? 

If you are on legacy benefits and have not yet received a migration notice you do have a choice in claiming Universal Credit. You may have a change of circumstances that could mean you need to make a Universal Credit claim.

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


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

The following information does not apply if you have received a migration notice. If so see above. Otherwise, this information may help you decide if you would be better or worse off on Universal Credit:

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:

  • Universal Credit 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 Universal Credit online
  • The help with rent is paid with your Universal Credit, and you then have to pay the rent yourself to the landlord
  • There are more work-related requirements on Universal Credit
  • After a new claim for Universal Credit the DWP may make deductions from your payments for certain governments debts or arrears for rent/utilities.
  • If your Universal Credit 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

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

Why should I claim Universal Credit?

You should claim Universal Credit to protect your income and other things like free school meals, help with prescriptions, cost of living payment etc. 

What else should I claim?

Universal Credit does not replace Council Tax Support so:

Universal Credit is replacing 6 means tested benefits listed above. All other benefits still continue.

Applying for Universal Credit

You normally have to apply online for Universal Credit through the Government website. But you can also make a telephone claim.

Apply for Universal Credit on

Support with Universal Credit in Newcastle

These services can help you claim Universal Credit and support you if you have difficulty:

support for Universal Credit claimants in Newcastle

More information

See our basic guide to Universal Credit

Also see our other webpage: I've received an invite to claim Universal Credit - what should I do?

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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