Good afternoon

As you know, by December 2018 all areas, UK wide will be offering Universal Credit’s digital or Full Service delivery. The move to Full Service will effectively bring all “legacy benefit” claims for people of “working age” to an end, by December 2023.

Thankfully, the process of migration, involving another 6 million claims, over the next 5 years, will be done in phases. The first phase, Natural migration (due to change in circumstances); followed by existing “Live” cases (mainly young single claimants) being asked to make their claims online and, once completed, conduct all related communications with DWP via their online account & journal; and, lastly, the Managed or forced migration stage, where all remaining JSA(IB), ESA(IB), Income Support, Tax Credits and Housing Benefit will be invited to make their online UC claim.

Due to the complexity of the process, it’s not surprising to hear many people are being wrongly advised by councils, DWP and, sometimes, their landlords, to claim Universal Credit when, in fact, their particular change in circumstances, should have merited the continuation of their exisiting “legacy” claim. However, once UC is claimed, even in error, DWP prompts an automatic “Stop Notice” to the legacy claim and there is no going back. As a result, some tenants have lost substatial amounts of entitlement with no form of protection available, other than Discretionary Housing Payments.

So, in order to avoid situations like this, DWP recently issued a circular explaining when a UC claim would and would not be required. You can find the details below:

Circumstance for new UC claim Additional information and exceptions
Move from in work to unemployment, and claimants whose hours reduce to less than 16 hours per week Claimants subsequently claim UC (because JSA(IB) is abolished in their area). Claimants may also apply and qualify for new style JSA – contribution-based only – alongside UC1.
Move from out of work to employment / self-employment Exception – Claimants who already have an award of CTC can apply for WTC. The award of WTC is a change of circumstances to the existing Tax Credits award, so they do not need to claim UC.
Move from ESA(IR) to Job-seeking For example, claimant’s ESA(IR) award is terminated as they are found not to have LCW. The claimant subsequently claims UC (because JSA(IB) is abolished in their area) and must remain on UC even where any subsequent appeal against the ESA disallowance is found in their favour.

Exception – Claimant does not claim UC during mandatory reconsideration period and, on appealing, is then awarded ESA pending appeal (a new claim not required); where subsequent appeal is allowed, they remain on ESA(IR).

Move from ESA to employment / self-employment Exception – Claimants that already have CTC can continue to claim tax credits. This is because a new claim to WTC in these circumstances is not prevented under UCFSrules and so they do not need to claim UC.
Move from unemployed (in other words, IS or JSA(IB)) to being sick Claimants may apply and qualify for new style ESA – contributory only – alongside UC.
Become responsible for a child for the first time Exception – Claimants who already have an award of WTC can claim CTC. This is because a new claim to CTC in these circumstances is not prevented under UCFSrules and so they do not need to claim UC.
Existing HB claimant who moves from one LA to a new LAin a UCFS area Exception – Only claimants who move into specified accommodation or temporary accommodation can continue to make a new claim for HB. Claimants with 3 or more children can continue to make a new claim for HB up to 31 January 2019.
Income Support award ends because the claimant no longer satisfied the conditions of entitlement Examples –

The claimant is no longer a carer.

The claimant is a lone parent whose youngest child reaches age 5.

Claimant receiving a legacy benefit or tax credits forms a couple with a UC claimant They will not be able to remain on their existing benefits or tax credits and, on forming the couple, are treated as making a joint UC claim with their new partner.


Make sure your staff are familiar with this information as it could make a big difference to your tenant’s benefit entitlement, ability to meet their rental obligations and your organisation’s income stream

If you require further information on this or any other Housing Benefit or Universal Credit topic, please phone 07733 080 389 or email



Bill Irvine

UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd.