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Transitional protection

Universal Credit: Transitional Protection


If you would get less money under Universal Credit than your current benefits, you could receive a top-up payment so that you do not lose out. This is called 'transitional protection'.

How does transitional protection work?

Transitional protection is a top-up payment so that you do not lose out because of the introduction of Universal Credit. It means that, in cash terms, you cannot receive less than your current benefits. However this top-up payment will be frozen so you will be gradually worse off over time as this payment is eroded by inflation. And you need to be aware that certain changes of circumstances will bring transitional protection to an end.

Who can get transitional protection?

Transitional protection only applies if you are an existing benefit claimant and there are no changes in your circumstances. Relevant changes in circumstance are those which would have previously meant a new claim for income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit or tax credits.

There are three kinds of claim for Universal Credit:

  • New claims e.g. when someone not currently on benefits loses their job and makes a new claim for UC
  • Natural migration, when you are on benefits but have a change of circumstance which triggers a new claim for UC, e.g. when a partner moves in/out
  • Managed migration, when your circumstances haven't changed so DWP initiates your transfer onto UC 

DWP’s claim that “no one will be worse off” when moved on to UC only applies for the third kind of claim - “managed migration”. 

Can I lose my transitional protection?

Transitional protection will end if, for example:

  • a partner leaves or joins your household
  • a sustained (three-month) earnings drop beneath the level of work that is expected according to your claimant commitment
  • your Universal Credit award ends
  • you (or your partner) stop work

Once transitional protection has ended it will not be applied to any future awards.

Severe Disability Premium (SDP) transitional protection

SDP recipients who haven't yet moved to Universal Credit

From 16 January 2019, if you are already receiving legacy benefits which include entitlement to the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) you will no longer be able to make a new claim for Universal Credit.

If you are receiving the SDP and have a change in circumstances that would have previously prompted a new claim to Universal Credit, you will remain on legacy benefits (including Housing Benefit).

To try to identify the people this affects and stop them claiming UC, the online UC claim form will have a specific question regarding SDP to inform claimants of this.

If you have any queries regarding SDP and UC you can call a specialist DWP team on 0800 181 4049. From 16 January 2019, if you were getting a SDP and mistakenly make a new claim for UC the specialist team should help you return to your old benefit/s.

Previous SDP recipients already on Universal Credit

If you were receiving the SDP in a legacy benefit but have already moved over to Universal Credit you will remain on UC but at some point you will receive an additional amount to compensate for the financial loss experienced when you moved to UC and lost your SDP.

DWP will identify claimants who have moved to Universal Credit and who are potentially eligible for a payment. If eligible, you will receive a lump-sum payment to cover the period since you moved to Universal Credit and then an ongoing monthly payment.

At a point that has not yet been decided, these ongoing monthly payments will be converted into transitional protection, becoming part of the overall Universal Credit award, and treated in the same way as other transitional protection payments described at the top of this page.

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