Move to Universal Credit update for Northern Ireland

Households who are in receipt of Tax Credits continue to be moved onto Universal Credit, however, from May 2024, this now includes households who are also in receipt of Housing Benefit. 

This is part of a UK-wide transition where current benefit claimants are gradually being moved onto Universal Credit from the old benefit system. This means that families who are in receipt of ‘legacy benefits’ such as Tax Credits, Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Job Seeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit will be contacted to tell them when this change will happen. This is known as ‘Move to UC’ or Universal Credit ‘managed migration’.

What is happening in Northern Ireland?

In Northern Ireland, since October 2023, households who are in receipt of Working Tax Credits and/or Child Tax Credit and none of the other benefits listed above have been receiving a Migration Notice letter from the Department for Communities. From mid-May this has been expanded to include those households who are also in receipt of Housing Benefit. The Migration Notice letter explains that they will need to make a claim to Universal Credit within 3 months from the date of their letter.

As the ‘Move to UC’ is being completed in phases, Migration Notice Letters are not currently being sent out to people in receipt of Income Support, Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Based Job Seeker’s Allowance or Housing Benefit without Tax Credits.

If you think this change may affect you it is very important that you do not take any action unless you receive a Migration Notice Letter from the Department for Communities. The Department for Communities is sending out these letters in batches over a period of time however if you are concerned that you have not yet received a Migration Notice Letter you can contact the Universal Credit Service Centre on 0800 012 1331.

What does Transitional Protection mean?

Anyone who makes a claim for Universal Credit after receiving a Migration Notice letter will have their benefit entitlement protected through Transitional Protection. This means if you have had no change in your circumstances, except moving from the legacy benefits to Universal Credit, you will not have any reduction in the amount of money you receive at the point in time that you move to Universal Credit. Any reduction in entitlement that there may have been, due to moving from the old benefits, will be covered by an extra government payment paid in addition to Universal Credit. This is why it is important that you do not take any action unless you receive a Migration Notice letter from the Department for Communities.

Additional support

The Department for Communities has a dedicated telephony team to provide advice and support to those impacted, details of how to contact this team are included in the Migration Notice letter. In addition, people will be advised that they can contact their local Jobs and Benefits office for help and support. Information is also available on the NIdirect website.

Further information

If you think that this may affect you or your family and would like further advice on how this could affect any entitlement to financial support now or in the future, contact our Family Benefits Advice Service for free, impartial and confidential advice. Call us on 028 9267 8200 or email – we are here to help.