Tax credits are ending, and most people will need to apply for Universal Credit instead.
Universal Credit Migration Notice
Look out for a letter called a Universal Credit Migration Notice from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) explaining what you'll need to do and by when.
If you are claiming tax credits and are aged 65 or over, DWP will write to ask you to apply for Universal Credit or Pension Credit, depending on your circumstances.
You won't be moved to Universal Credit automatically, so it's essential to act quickly and follow the instructions in the letter. Otherwise, your benefits will stop.
To continue receiving financial support, you must claim Universal Credit by the deadline stated in your letter, even if you have just renewed your tax credits claim.
There are plenty of things you can do to prepare. Tax credits are ending: Understanding Universal Credit has information about the steps you can take and further support.
Would I be better off or worse off on Universal Credit?
The following information may help you decide if you would be better or worse off on Universal Credit.
If your Universal Credit is lower than your 'legacy benefits', your income from benefits will reduce to the new amount. You are only protected from reduced benefits if you have the Severe Disability Premium paid with some of your legacy benefits and when 'managed migration' applies. This is called Transitional Protection.
Transitional protection does not apply to those who naturally or voluntarily migrate. It means those eligible households with a lower calculated award in Universal Credit than their legacy benefits awards will see no difference in their entitlement when they are moved to Universal Credit, provided there is no change in their circumstances during the migration process. The transitional protection element will erode over time with increases in Universal Credit elements - excluding the childcare costs element - and will stop with certain changes of circumstances.
The Government has also provided additional protection for those who had a change in circumstance and have been receiving Severe Disability Premium.
In addition, those migrating from tax credits who are gainfully self-employed will be eligible for a 12-month start-up grace period before the Minimum Income Floor applies to help them grow their business.
Self-help calculators help you compare your legacy benefits with Universal Credit.
It's more than just a financial comparison between the amounts you'd be entitled to. Some aspects of Universal Credit can cause problems for people. Here are some examples to take into account:
- Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears.
- You must wait at least five weeks for the first payment after a new claim.
- You are expected to claim and manage Universal Credit online.
- The help with rent is paid with your Universal Credit, and you have to pay the rent yourself to the landlord.
- There are more work-related requirements in Universal Credit.
- After a new claim for Universal Credit, old tax credit arrears may be deducted from your Universal Credit.
- You can apply for an advance payment of Universal Credit, which you will need to repay within 24 months.
Further support and guidance
If I need help to make a claim for Universal Credit or manage my claim, who can help me? You can request assistance from:
Department for Work and Pensions
Universal Credit: How to claim - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). Alternatively, you can contact the Universal Credit Helpline at 0800 328 5644.
Get help if you have accessibility needs. For those who need support with the following:
- using the phone (advice on Relay UK, textphone, Video Relay Service for deaf people who use British Sign Language and alternatives to the phone, including home visits)
- using a computer
- reading letters or filling in forms
- attending face-to-face meetings
- managing your affairs
Citizens Advice's Help to Claim Service
Contact the Citizens Advice about a Universal Credit application. This service can assist you in making a claim. It is available between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday.
- Phone free: 0800 144 8 444
- Relay UK if you can't hear or speak on the phone: 18001 then 0800 144 4 444
- British Sign Language (BSL)
- Webchat advice
Ask for a translator if you need advice in a different language.