Moving to Universal Credit

Last updated: 30/03/2022

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.

It is expected that everyone currently getting a legacy benefit, or tax credits, will have moved to Universal Credit by early 2024.

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. If the money you were getting in legacy benefits was more that you will get in Universal Credit you will continue to get the higher amount. This is called transitional protection. However, your Universal Credit will not be increased in April until it is equal to the amount of Universal Credit you should be getting.

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, Housing Benefit and tax credits. 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 and need help to pay 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.