Moving to universal credit

Last updated: 03/03/2021

If you are getting one of the benefits being replaced by universal credit you will be sent a letter ‘inviting’ you to claim universal credit instead.

You do not have to claim universal credit but the benefits being replaced (legacy benefits) will stop so you will have a drop in your income.

If you claim universal credit when invited you should not have a drop in your income even if the amount of universal credit is less than you were receiving in legacy benefits. However, the payment you receive will not be increased each year so that it will stay the same until it is equal to current universal credit. This is called transitional protection.

A change of circumstance that means you would have to claim a different legacy benefit could mean you need to apply for universal credit before being invited to claim it.

For example, if you are getting income support and your youngest child turns five you will receive universal credit rather than jobseeker’s allowance. Other changes that can trigger a move to universal credit include:-

  • Starting work of 16 or more hours per week if not already getting tax credits
  • Reducing working hours to under 16 hours per week
  • Moving in with a partner
  • Moving to a different local authority when you need to claim help with rent

You will not get transitional protection if you move to universal credit before being invited to.

You can choose to move from legacy benefits to universal credit, rather than wait to be invited by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), but it is best to get advice before doing so as you might be worse off.