Moving to universal credit

Last updated: 10/03/2021

If you are receiving a legacy benefit you will be ‘invited’, by letter, to claim universal credit instead. Legacy benefits are – income support, jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance, housing benefit, child tax credit and working tax credit.

When this happens, your income will not be reduced if the amount of universal credit is less than you were receiving in legacy benefits. This is called transitional protection. However, the payment you receive will not be up-rated each year but will stay the same until it is equal to the current amount of universal credit.

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 can include:

  • Already getting jobseekers 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 3 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 current amount of universal credit.

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.