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Moving to Universal Credit from other benefits

This advice applies to Wales

Universal Credit is gradually replacing certain benefits. If you get one of those benefits, you’ll have to move onto Universal Credit by 2023.

Universal Credit is replacing:

  • Housing Benefit
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits (WTC)
  • Income Support

If you’re claiming any of these benefits, you can stay on them for the moment - unless you’ve had a change of circumstances. For example, you might need to claim Universal Credit if you’ve split up with a partner or moved to a different council area.

If you haven’t had a change of circumstances, you won’t usually need to claim Universal Credit until the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) sends you a letter.  

You can choose to move onto Universal Credit at any time if you want to. Find out more about Universal Credit.

If you get, or recently stopped getting, a severe disability premium

You can’t apply for Universal Credit if you’ve been getting a severe disability premium. If you’re not sure if you get one, check your benefits letters.

Find out more about the severe disability premium and Universal Credit. 

Check if a change means you need to claim Universal Credit

If your work, home or family situation changes, you might need to move on to Universal Credit. Not every change of circumstances means you need to change your benefits. 

You should report a change of circumstances as soon as you can - even if you stay on your old benefits. You might be paid too much or too little if you report it later.

If you don’t report a change and you’re paid too much, you’ll need to pay the money back and you might have to pay some extra money as a penalty.

If you’re on Working Tax Credits or Child Tax Credits, you’ll need to tell the HMRC about a change on GOV.UK.

For other benefits, you can find out how to report a change of circumstances on GOV.UK.

If you need help working out if you need to claim Universal Credit, you can talk to an adviser.

If you’ve split up with your partner

If you're in a joint claim for Working Tax Credits or Child Tax Credits, you'll need to make a new claim for Universal Credit as a single person.

If you’re in a joint claim for another benefit

You’ll need to check if the benefits are in your name first. They’ll be in your name if the benefits letters are addressed to you.

If you’re still not sure, you can check with the organisation that pays you your benefits. This will be your local council if you’re getting Housing Benefit and the DWP for other benefits.

You can stay on your old benefits if they’re in your name and:

  • you’ve moved out but still live in the same council area
  • your ex-partner’s moved out

If you’ve moved home or your partner moves in

If you're claiming Housing Benefit and you’ve moved to an area with a different local council, you’ll have to claim Universal Credit instead. If you’re not sure, you can find your local council on GOV.UK.

If you’ve moved to a different home in the same council area, you can stay on your current benefits if you were claiming Housing Benefit and the claim was in your name.

It might not be in your name if you were claiming Housing Benefit with an ex-partner. Check if the benefits letter is addressed to you - that means the claim was in your name. You can also ring your local council to check - find your local council on GOV.UK.

If you and your partner move in together

You’ll need to make a new joint claim for Universal Credit if you move into your partner’s home and you or your partner are already claiming Universal Credit. Find out how to claim Universal Credit.

You'll be able to stay on your current benefits if all of the following apply:

  • your partner isn't already getting Universal Credit and has no income
  • you and your partner don’t get Child Tax Credits

If you have children

You’ll need to claim Universal Credit if you have your first child - unless you’re already claiming Working Tax Credits. If you’re on Working Tax Credits and you have your first child, you can claim Child Tax Credits instead.

If you’re on Child Tax Credits already and you have another child, you can stay on your benefits.

If you’re on Income Support, you’ll usually need to claim Universal Credit if all of the following apply:

  • you’re a single parent
  • your youngest child has turned 5
  • you’re not a full-time carer for someone who’s sick or disabled

Find out how to claim Universal Credit.

If your work situation’s changed

What you need to do will depend on the benefits you’re claiming and how your work situation has changed.

You'll need to claim Universal Credit if you're not claiming Child Tax Credits and you start:

  • doing 16 hours or more a week of work that isn't 'permitted work'
  • earning more than £131.50 of work from work that isn't 'permitted work'

Check what counts as ‘permitted work’.

If you’re claiming Child Tax Credits, you can stay on most of your current benefits and claim Working Tax Credits. You won’t keep getting income-related ESA.

It’s best to check how much you’d get on Universal Credit - you might get more money on it.

If you’re on Working Tax Credits (WTC)

You’ll have to claim Universal Credit if you’re no longer able to work or you lose your job.

If your hours have increased, you can stay on your current benefits.

If your hours have decreased, you’ll need to work a certain number of hours to stay on your current benefits. The number depends on your situation - it’s the same as WTC. Check how many hours you need to work on WTC.

If your hours have dropped below these numbers, you’ll need to claim Universal Credit.

If you’re not on Working Tax Credits

If you work less than 16 hours, you can stay on your current benefits.

If you or your partner have reached State Pension age

It’s usually best for you to claim Pension Credit. You can check State Pension age on GOV.UK.

Check how much you’ll get on Universal Credit

If you can choose between staying on your old benefits and claiming Universal Credit, it’s best to check how much you’d get on Universal Credit with the entitledto calculator. To get an accurate answer, you’ll need to know details about your:

  • income - including any benefits, salary or other earnings
  • rent and living expenses
  • savings and investments

Claiming Universal Credit

If you claim Universal Credit, you’ll usually get one single monthly payment and you usually have to manage your claim online. Read more about Universal Credit.

You’ll keep getting Housing Benefit for 2 weeks after you apply. You’ll stop getting the other benefits it’s replaced straight away.

It will take 5 weeks to get your first Universal Credit payment - but it could take longer. If you need money now, you can ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit. You’d need to pay this back.

If you need help moving on to Universal Credit, you can talk to an adviser. They can help work out which benefit is best for you.

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