Universal Credit roll out

Universal Credit roll out

What is the Universal Credit roll out?

Universal Credit is gradually being rolled out across the UK in stages.

If you are making a new claim for benefits, or are already claiming benefits and have a change in your circumstances, you may have to claim Universal Credit at some point before September 2018.

Once the roll out for new claims is complete, all existing claimants who have not had a change in circumstances, will be moved over to Universal Credit at some point between July 2019 and March 2022.

Are you single, without children and looking for work?

Most new claims from single unemployed people who do not have children will now be for Universal Credit, no matter where you live.

This includes single people who already claim tax credits or Housing Benefit but you must not already be receiving Jobseeker's Allowance or be in one of the categories listed in the 'Who can't claim in a live service area' section below.

If you are in one of these groups and you don't have a change of circumstance you will not be affected by Universal Credit until July 2019 at the earliest.

Are you single and working, in a couple or have children?

Universal Credit is currently being rolled out to these groups for people making a new benefit claim. Whether you will be asked to apply for Universal Credit or existing benefits will depend on your circumstances and whether you live in a live or full service area.

Live Service Areas

A small number of areas already allow Universal Credit claims from people who live with their partner or have children as long as they are unemployed (unless they fit into one of the categories listed in the 'Who can't claim in a live service area' section below). These live service areas will eventually convert to being full service areas, as explained below.

Full Service Areas

Some areas allow Universal Credit claims from almost everyone, whether or not they are in one of the categories below or are working. These are called full service areas. The whole of the UK is expected to be full service by September 2018.

When your area is a full service area most people making a new benefit claim will be invited to claim Universal Credit instead of existing benefits. If you live in a Universal Credit full service area you can no longer make a new claim for tax credits, Housing Benefit or out-of-work benefits like Income Support.

Families with three or more children making a new claim for Universal Credit are an exception to this rule. They can continue to claim existing benefits until at least November 2018. Anyone else living in a full service area and already getting benefits or tax credits will be asked to claim Universal Credit if they have a change of circumstances.

You can find out when you could be affected personally by putting your postcode into the benefits calculator.

Or read the government's list of jobcentre areas now taking claims for Universal Credit and Universal Credit full service roll out schedule.

Are you already claiming benefits?

Existing benefits and tax credits claimants who do not have a change of circumstance will not be affected by Universal Credit until July 2019 at the earliest. The government expects to finish moving existing benefit and tax credit claimants onto Universal Credit by March 2022.

What counts as a change of circumstances?

There's no published list of what counts as a change of circumstances to trigger a move from one of the existing benefits to Universal Credit but below is a guide of the changes likely to be included:

  • If your entitlement to the current benefit ends, for example you are claiming Working Tax Credit and you lose your job (or regularly reduce your hours below the minimum number of hours you must work) or you are claiming income-based Jobseekers' Allowance and you start working more than 16 hours a week in a low paid job.
  • If you become entitled to a different or extra benefit, for example you are claiming Jobseeker's Allowance and have a child so you become eligible for Child Tax Credit, you separate from a partner and become eligible for help with your rent through Housing Benefit or you are on income-based Employment and Support Allowance and are declared able to work.
  • If you have a change in your relationship, for example if you move in with somebody already claiming Universal Credit you will claim Universal Credit together.

It is not currently clear if moving house counts as a change of circumstances but it may be the case that moving within the same local authority doesn't count as a change but moving to a new authority does. We will update this guide when this has been confirmed.

There are also a few changes that are unlikely to count as a change of circumstance, which will generally be changes to benefits you are already claiming. For example, you are already getting Child Tax Credit and you have another child, you are already getting Working Tax Credit and you change jobs (as long as you still meet the hours rules) or you are already getting Housing Benefit and your rent increases.

In many cases you are obliged to report a change of circumstances. If you are in any doubt as to whether a change in your circumstances means you will have to claim Universal Credit see if a local advice agency is able to help you or contact the relevant benefits team to ask.

Who can't claim in a live service area?

Even if you live in a live service area, if you are in any of the groups below you won't be able to claim Universal Credit until your area becomes a full service area:

  • you are already claiming Jobseeker's Allowance or the benefits listed below
  • you aren't fit for work because you have an illness or disability
  • you care for someone who has a disability
  • you own your home or have a mortgage on it
  • you live in supported accommodation or are homeless
  • you expect to earn over £338 in the first month of being on Universal Credit (£541 a month for couples)
  • you expect to earn money from self-employment (in a trade, profession or vocation) in the first month of being on Universal Credit
  • you’re a company director or a member of a limited liability partnership
  • you're in education or training, or intend to start education or training in the first month of your claim

If you are currently claiming or have applied for any of the following benefits you won't be able to claim Universal Credit in a live service area:

  • Employment and Support Allowance (contribution based)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (income related)
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker's Allowance (contribution based)
  • Jobseeker's Allowance (income based)
  • Severe Disablement Allowance

For more general information please see our Universal Credit guide.

When will the roll out affect Northern Ireland?

In Northern Ireland the Universal Credit roll out will begin in September 2017 and be completed by September 2018.

  • 25 September 2017 - Limavady
  • 13 November 2017 - Ballymoney
  • 11 December 2017 - Magherafelt and Coleraine
  • 15 January 2018 - Strabane and Lisnagelvin
  • 5 February 2018 - Foyle and Armagh
  • 19 February 2018 - Omagh and Enniskillen
  • 5 March 2018 - Dungannon and Portadown
  • 16 April 2018 - Banbridge and Lurgan
  • 30 April 2018 - Kilkeel, Downpatrick and Newry
  • 14 May 2018 - Bangor, N'ards and Holywood Road
  • 28 May 2018 - Knockbreda, N'abbey and Shankill
  • 11 June 2018 - Corp St, Falls and A'town
  • 25 June 2018 - Shaftesbury Sq, Lisburn and Larne
  • 2 July 2018 - Carrick, Antrim and Ballymena
  • July to September 2018 - Cookstown, B'hinch and Newcastle

 

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