Universal Credit – the latest update

Universal Credit has replaced Tax Credits as the main means-tested benefit for adults of working age. This benefit provides claimants with 85% of their eligible childcare costs for children under 16 (17 for children with disabilities). However, because Universal Credit incorporates a range of existing benefits, what is best for your family depends on your specific circumstances. Universal Credit has replaced the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (Income-Based)
  • Income related ESA
  • Housing Benefit
  • Tax Credits

New claimants

Universal Credit is now available for new claimants, that is, people who are not currently claiming a legacy benefit such as income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Existing claimants

If you currently receive any of the legacy benefits that are being replaced by Universal Credit you will be transferred to Universal Credit. At present, this is likely to be from 2020. Depending on where you live, the Department for Work and Pensions or the Department for Communities (Northern Ireland) will contact you to guide you through the steps you need to take when your claim is ready to move to Universal Credit. This is known as managed migration.

If you experience a change in circumstance prior to that you may find you are moved to Universal Credit as a result of the change in circumstances. This is known as natural migration.  If you are receiving any legacy benefits, you will lose these if you claim Universal Credit, and will not be able to go back on to them.

Not all changes of circumstances will result in having to make a new claim for Universal Credit. We strongly advise in any change of circumstances that you seek advice before making a claim for Universal Credit as it may not be the best option for you or your family. Call our Family Benefits Advice Service on 028 9267 8200 for personalised advice.

You will also find more information in the range of factsheets on our website including our recently updated Universal Credit and Tax Credits factsheets.