Moving to Universal Credit

Last updated: 25/05/2022

Moving from legacy benefits to Universal Credit

Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit and tax credits are called legacy benefits and are being replaced by Universal Credit. If you are getting a legacy benefit you will receive a letter from DWP telling you your benefits will stop and asking you to claim Universal Credit instead.

The process of moving people from legacy benefits to Universal Credit has already begun and is expected to be completed by 2024.

Will I get less money when I’m asked to claim Universal Credit?

You may be getting more money from legacy benefits than you would get from Universal Credit. If you claim Universal Credit when you receive the letter, your benefit income will not be reduced. You will receive the same amount. This is called transitional protection. However, the Universal Credit you get will not be up-rated each year but will stay the same until it is equal to the amount of Universal Credit you should get.

Changes that mean moving to Universal Credit before receiving the letter

If you are getting a legacy benefit and have a change in your circumstances you may have to claim  Universal Credit instead.

Circumstances that can trigger a move to Universal Credit include:

  • Already getting Jobseeker’s Allowance and you becoming a single parent.
  • Start needing to claim help with rent.
  • Getting Income Support when your youngest child turns 5.

For example: Magda has a 4 year old son and is getting Income Support.  Her Income Support will stop when her son turns 5. Magda will then have to claim Universal Credit.

You will not get transitional protection if a move to Universal Credit was triggered by a change in your circumstances.

If you are already getting transitional protection, and have a change of circumstances, your Universal Credit will drop to the amount of Universal Credit you should be getting.

Can I move to Universal Credit before I get the letter asking me to claim it?

You can choose to move from legacy benefits to Universal Credit, rather than wait to be invited by DWP. It is best to get advice before doing this to make sure you will not be worse off.

Can I choose to keep legacy benefits rather than move to Universal Credit?

You cannot choose to keep legacy benefits after you receive the letter asking you to claim Universal Credit. You have 3 months from when you receive the letter to claim Universal Credit. After this time your legacy benefits will stop. You can still claim Universal Credit after your legacy benefits stop but there may be a gap between legacy benefits stopping and Universal Credit starting.