Moving to Universal Credit from other benefits
Universal Credit will replace:
- Housing Benefit
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Income Support
These are known as 'legacy benefits'. If you're thinking of claiming one of these benefits for the first time, you might need to apply for Universal Credit instead. It depends where you live - check if you're eligible for Universal Credit. You can also find out when Universal Credit is coming to your area on GOV.UK.
If you’re already getting any of the legacy benefits, you don’t usually need to claim Universal Credit until the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) gets in touch. This is meant to happen from 2019.
If you do claim Universal Credit you’ll stop getting legacy benefits. Most will stop straight away, but you’ll keep getting Housing Benefit for 2 weeks after you claim Universal Credit. Find out more about how Universal Credit is paid.
You usually can’t go back to claiming legacy benefits once you become entitled to Universal Credit, unless you already live in or move to a postcode in a live service area. Get help from your local Citizens Advice if this applies to you.
Changes that mean you’ll need to claim Universal Credit
If you have a change of circumstances, you need to tell the DWP so you get the right amount of benefit.
If you live in a full service area, some changes of circumstances can mean you have to claim Universal Credit instead of your current benefits. You'll need to claim Universal Credit if a change would mean you had to make a new claim for your current benefits.
For example, you might be claiming Housing Benefit but then move to a different local authority in a full service area. Normally, this would mean you have to make a new Housing Benefit claim. As it's a new claim, you need to claim Universal Credit instead.
If you're in this situation, you might have to claim Universal Credit instead. Contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help if this applies to you.
There will usually be a gap between your legacy benefits stopping and your first Universal Credit payment. This will normally be about 5 weeks but it could take longer. You might also get less money on Universal Credit than on legacy benefits. If you’re struggling with money, you can get an advance payment of Universal Credit - this is a type of loan.
If you have 3 or more children
You should be able to stay on legacy benefits if you’re responsible for 3 or more children.
If you move in with a partner who gets Universal Credit
Your legacy benefits will stop if you live with a partner who already gets Universal Credit.
You won’t have to make a new claim if you move in with your partner and they already get Universal Credit. Your partner still needs to tell the DWP you’ve moved in together so they get the right amount of Universal Credit.
You should contact the Universal Credit helpline to report a change of circumstances.
Universal Credit helpline (full service)
Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 012 1888
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Calls to these number are free. It’s best to call from the phone number you gave the DWP when you set up your Universal Credit account. You'll have a shorter wait and be put through to the same person who handled previous calls you've made.
If you split up from a partner and you’re both on legacy benefits
You can stay on legacy benefits if your name is on the benefit award letter. If your ex-partner's name is on the benefit award letter, you'll need to make a new claim for Universal Credit.
If one of you is Pension Credit age
You can’t get Pension Credit at the same time as Universal Credit. If you’re in a couple and your partner is Pension Credit age, you can choose if you want to claim Universal Credit or Pension Credit. You’ll probably be better off claiming Pension Credit. You can work out Pension Credit age on GOV.UK.
You can read more on how Universal Credit is paid differently to legacy benefits and how this might affect you.