In January 2022, the DWP started transferring some people still getting the legacy benefits and tax credits to Universal Credit (UC). This process is known as ‘managed migration’. At first, this applied only to a small number of cases, but was expected to apply to more people during 2022. The official intent is to complete the managed migration process by the end of 2024.
Note: if you are transferred to UC under the managed migration process and the amount of your UC is less than the amount you were getting on your legacy benefits, you are entitled to a ‘transitional element’ in your UC. This transitional protection is intended to ensure that you are not worse off at the point you transfer to UC.
The main rules and procedures are as follows (these may be subject to change)
- The DWP begins the managed migration process by sending you (and your partner if you are in a couple) a ‘migration notice’. This tells you that your legacy benefit or tax credit award will end on your ‘migration day’ and invites you to make a claim for UC instead.
- When you are sent the migration notice, you become a ‘notified person’.
- You are given a date you must make your UC claim by. This is your ‘deadline day’. This day must be at least three months from the date of your migration notice. You can be given longer to make your claim if the DWP agrees that there is a good reason – e.g., if you are unwell or need to arrange help in order to make your claim.
- The DWP can cancel your migration notice – e.g., if it was sent in error or if this is considered necessary to protect your interests.
- If you have not claimed UC by your deadline day, but you do so within a month of that day (i.e., by your ‘final deadline’), you will still have claimed in time to get a transitional element in your UC.
You have made your claim for UC when you submit it – i.e., in most cases, when you have completed and submitted the online claim form. This establishes the date of your claim. After you claim, you are likely to be required to provide further information (e.g., about your identity or income), usually at an interview. If you do not provide the information within the time allowed (you should be given at least a month, but can be given longer), the DWP is likely to decide that you are not entitled to UC and say that your claim has been ‘closed’. Although you can challenge this decision, unless it is changed, you are not entitled to a transitional element as you have been refused UC. If you make another claim before your final deadline and are awarded UC, the rules say that you cannot get a transitional element included, although it is not clear whether this is the official intention.
Your entitlement to your legacy benefits ends when you claim UC or, if you do not claim, on the day before your deadline day. Your IS, income-based JSA, income-related ESA and HB continue for the first two weeks of your UC claim, if you would otherwise have remained entitled – i.e., you get paid both your legacy benefits and UC for two weeks.
When you make your claim for UC, you are not automatically entitled - you must still satisfy the usual rules of entitlement. However, there are exceptions.
- If you are a student when your legacy benefits end, you can get UC even if you are in full-time education – you do not have to satisfy the usual rule about not ‘receiving education’.
- If you are entitled to tax credits when you claim UC and have capital of over £16,000 - the capital above £16,000 is ignored when calculating your entitlement to UC. This is called a ‘transitional capital disregard’ and can apply for up to 12 months beginning with your first month on UC.
Have you been sent a migration notice?
If you have been sent a migration notice by the DWP, you are affected by managed migration. Note the following.
- There is no choice about when you are affected. However, the DWP intends to apply the managed migration process gradually. Get advice if you are affected and you are worried or unsure.
- If you need more time to claim UC than you have been given (e.g., because you are unwell or need help with the online claim), contact the DWP and explain this.
- If you are vulnerable because of your health, or have complex needs (e.g., because you are homeless), the DWP should take account of that under its ‘complex needs’ procedures. If you think this has not happened, tell the DWP and ask that it does.
- If you would be worse off on UC, you should be protected by a transitional element in your UC, provided you claim UC within the time allowed and later supply any further information required. If you claim UC outside the time limit, you will not have transferred to UC under the managed migration rules and are not entitled to this element.
- If you submit your claim in time but then fail to supply any further information that is required, the DWP is likely to regard this as a ‘failed claim’ and then say that your claim is ‘closed’. This means that you have been refused UC. You can challenge the decision to ‘close’ your claim. You could try making another claim before your final deadline, but the DWP may still refuse to award you a transitional element.
- If you are awarded UC but are in financial difficulty while waiting to be paid, you can apply for an advance.
From some point, claimants with existing awards of legacy benefits will begin to be transferred to UC under the DWP’s ‘managed migration’ process.
If you are transferred to UC in this way and your UC maximum amount would be less than the amount you were getting on your legacy benefit, a ‘transitional element’ is included in your UC maximum amount.
This is intended to ensure that you are not worse off at the point of transfer to UC.
Transitional protection only applies if you transfer to UC under the ‘managed migration’ process.
It does not apply if you claim UC after a transfer under the ‘natural migration’ process.
So, you could find that if you claim UC under the natural migration process, it is worth less than the legacy benefit you were getting previously (even if you qualify for the transitional SDP element).