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Universal Credit triggers

What changes in circumstances might trigger a move to Universal Credit?

The government’s current plan is that existing benefit claimants will be moved over to Universal Credit from 2019 onwards in a process called 'managed migration'. A small number will start to be moved from July 2019 but the main 'managed migration' will take place from 2020 onwards and is currently due to be completed by December 2023.

However, anyone who has a change of circumstance requiring a new benefit claim will be moved earlier via 'natural migration'. This group of people will also lose their right to transitional protection which is only available for managed migrants to UC.

In general, natural migration could be triggered if entitlement to your current benefit ends (prompting a need to claim a new one) or you become entitled to a different or extra benefit. It shouldn't happen when you make changes to benefits you are already claiming.

The following gives examples of what may happen in a range of circumstances.

First, a word of warning

If you decide to switch from legacy benefits to Universal Credit we suggest you seek advice before doing so. It is not just the amount of money you may be entitled to that could change.

Some of the overall rules may be different, including; the initial waiting days you will not be paid for; the frequency of your payments (eg, weekly, fortnightly, monthly); or the commitments you need to agree to in order to remain eligible. See our Universal Credit guide for more details on each of these areas.

Plus, there is usually no going back to your previous benefits once a claim for Universal Credit has been made, so get advice if you're considering doing this.

A change in employment status

If you... You should...
don't already claim Child Tax Credits but do claim Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support or Income-related Employment Support Allowance and you start work with enough hours to satisfy Working Tax Credit conditions be asked to claim Universal Credit
don't already claim Child Tax Credits but do claim legacy benefits such as Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance and Housing Benefit and you start work but not enough hours to satisfy Working Tax Credit have a choice - either remain on adjusted exisitng benefit or claim Universal Credit if you will be better off
already claim Child Tax Credits and income based legacy benefits and you start work with enough hours to satisfy Working Tax Credit conditions have a choice - either remain on existing benefits with added Working Tax Credit or claim Universal Credit if you will be better off
are on Working Tax Credit and your hours fall below 16 be asked to claim Universal Credit
are on Income-related Employment and Support Allowance and your hours increase over 16 be asked to claim Universal Credit
already claim Child Tax Credit and start work to satisfy Working Tax Credit rules stay on Child Tax Credit and add Working Tax Credit 
already claim Working Tax Credit and you increase your hours have a choice - remain on adjusted Working Tax Credit or claim Universal Credit if you will be better off
already claim Working Tax Credit and you become sick be asked to claim Universal Credit

 

A change in family circumstances

If you... You should...
already claim Income Support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or Housing Benefit and your household becomes responsible for a first child be asked to claim Universal Credit
already claim Working Tax Credit only and your household becomes responsible for a first child have a choice - either remain on existing benefits with added Child Tax Credit or claim Universal Credit if you will be better off
are a lone parent on Income Support and your youngest child turns 5 years old be asked to claim Universal Credit, unless there is another reason to stay on Income Support
already claim Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance and your baby is due within 11 weeks be asked to claim Universal Credit
already claim Child Tax Credit (with or without WTC) and you have another child or go from 2 to 1 have a choice - remain on adjusted tax credits or claim Universal Credit if you will be better off

 

A partner leaving or joining the household

If you... You should...
are a couple on Tax Credits and you separate both be asked to claim Universal Credit as single people
are a lone parent on Income Support and Child Tax Credit and you form a couple with a partner working less than 24 hours a week be asked to claim Universal Credit as a couple 
are a lone parent on Income Support and Child Tax Credit and you form a couple with a partner working more than 24 hours a week be asked to claim Universal Credit as a couple 
are a couple on Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance with children under 5 and become lone parents both be asked to claim Universal Credit as single people
are single a person under pension age on 'legacy benefits' and you become a couple with person of Pension Credit qualifying age be asked to claim Pension Credit until Universal Credit is fully rolled out across the country

 

Starting or stopping being a carer

If you... You should...
satisfy Carer's Allowance rules and are making a new benefit claim be asked to claim Universal Credit
are a carer on Income Support who stops being a carer be asked to claim Universal Credit

 

Starting or stopping a claim based on disability

If you... You should...
already claim Income-related Employment Support Allowance but you fail a Work Capability Assessment be asked to claim Universal Credit (note: if you challenge your Work Capability Assessment and win you will remain on Universal Credit)
already claim Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance and you become sick be asked to claim Universal Credit

 

Changes to tax credits

If you... You should...
are renewing your existing Tax Credit claim have a choice - remain on adjusted Tax Credit or claim Universal Credit if you will be better off
claim Tax Credit but your change of circumstances wouldn't have led to a claim for a new 'legacy benefit' (for example you have less income) have a choice - remain on adjusted Tax Credit or claim Universal Credit if you will be better off

 

Moving home and taking up a new tenancy

If you... You should...
already claim Housing Benefit and you move into a new local authority be asked to claim Universal Credit
already claim Housing Benefit and you move within the same local authority have a choice - remain on adjusted Housing Benefit or claim Universal Credit if you will be better off
are on Tax Credit, Income Support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance and take up a new tenancy for the first time be asked to claim Universal Credit

 

Other changes

If you... You should...
claim Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance and you need to attend court or jury service be asked to claim Universal Credit
claim Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance and you are remanded in custody be asked to claim Universal Credit
claim Income Support and you cease full time education be asked to claim Universal Credit
are on Contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance and are entitled to Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance be asked to claim Universal Credit

 

With thanks to Newcastle City Council Active Inclusion Service for the information in this guide. It is as accurate as possible but subject to change.

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