Moving to Universal Credit

Universal Credit was introduced in Cambridge in October 2018. It replaced all new claims from people of working age for:

  • Child and working tax credits
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker's Allowance

The government has begun to migrate recipients of these benefits to Universal Credit. This will happen in stages, so might not affect you immediately.

If you receive child or working tax credits and none of the other benefits listed above, the government will contact you soon. They will invite you to claim Universal Credit. You must respond, as your tax credits will stop after three months.

If you receive other benefits as well as tax credits, the government will probably not contact you until 2024. We will keep this page up to date as we learn more.

You might be better off receiving Universal Credit than your existing benefits. The government believes that up to 65% of people would.

Use an approved benefits calculator to check whether to apply before the government contacts you. Consider any upcoming changes to your income or household, and see if they make a difference.

Frequently asked questions

When am I likely to be asked to migrate to Universal Credit?

The current timetable for sending migration notices is:

  • April to June: recipients of Income Support and Housing Benefit, and recipients of Tax Credits and Housing Benefit
  • June to August: recipients of Housing Benefit only
  • July to September: recipients of Income-related Employment and Support Allowance and Child Tax Credit
  • August to September: Pension-age recipients of Tax Credits
  • September: recipients of Job Seeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit

You will have three months to make your Universal Credit claim after you receive a migration notice. For example, if you only receive Housing Benefit and your notice arrives at the end of August, you must apply before the end of November.

If you receive income-related Job Seeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit with no other benefits, you will receive a migration notice sometime during 2025.

Everyone will be moved to Universal Credit eventually — why should I do it now?

The government has not set out the timetable for moving people to Universal Credit. For some people, moving to Universal Credit will increase their household income. Encouraging people to check if they can apply means you could get this increase earlier.

If I apply rather than being moved to Universal Credit, will I lose my transitional protection?

If your entitlement to Universal Credit would be lower than your legacy benefits entitlement, you might be entitled to a top-up payment known as transitional protection. This means that your Universal Credit entitlement will be the same as your legacy benefit entitlement at the point you move.

If you are entitled to more Universal Credit, there is no transitional protection.

If transitional protection does apply, it will be reduced or removed when a change in your circumstances leads to an increase in your Universal Credit. It can also change when the rates of Universal Credit increase each April. Transitional protection is not reinstated if your circumstances change back again.

It is important to use a benefit calculator to work out if you will be better off on Universal Credit. If you know you have a change of circumstances coming up soon, check how that will impact your current benefits and any Universal Credit you may be entitled to. Changes include change in income, capital, childcare costs and people in your household.

If I receive Severe Disability Premium in my Housing Benefit applicable amount calculation, will I still be better off?

No, you may not be better off. If you do not know whether you get this in your Housing Benefit calculation, check the notification letters that we send you.

I receive Housing Benefit — if am successful in my Universal Credit application, is there any initial financial support as Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears?

Yes, we will make an extra payment equal to two weeks at your current Housing Benefit rate. This is paid in addition to your Universal Credit for the same period.

You can also ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit from the government if moving to a monthly payment will cause you financial difficulties. This will be recovered from your Universal Credit payments over the following 12 months.

My Housing Benefit is paid to my landlord — how will I pay my rent under Universal Credit?

Most people can set up a direct debit to pay their landlord. If you have rent arrears or are struggling to manage your money, speak to your work coach at the job centre. They can arrange an Alternative Payment Arrangement from your Universal Credit to your landlord.

Will I receive my Universal Credit every four weeks, like my current Housing Benefit?

No. Universal Credit is paid monthly. The date you receive it will be the same every month, based on the date of your initial claim. Changing to monthly payments can be difficult — help is available Citizens Advice, Step Change and similar organisations.

I get help with my Council Tax now - what will happen if I get Universal Credit?

The Council Tax support you will get if you receive Universal Credit depends whether you are working and have other people living with you (these are called non-dependants). You do not need to tell us of your earnings, as we get that information from Universal Credit. Your net earnings determine how much you need to contribute towards your Council Tax bill.

I have been self-employed for more than a year, but my income is still low. How will Universal Credit affect me?

Universal Credit may impose a notional income called Minimum Income Floor, based on the national minimum wage. This can mean you will not get Universal Credit. Read more about Universal Credit for self-employed people.

I don’t have to work at present because of disabilities or caring responsibilities. Will being on Universal Credit mean I will be forced to work?

There are still groups of people who receive Universal Credit who are not expected to work or to work full time. Work coaches at the job centre can give you advice on what would be expected of you. In the future, working expectations may change depending on government rules.

If I don’t like being on Universal Credit, can I move back to my old benefits?

No — when you are on Universal Credit you can’t transfer back. This is why it is important to make sure you are comfortable moving over.

I need more information – who can help me?

You can use a benefit calculator to see if you would get more on Universal Credit.

You can speak to a work coach at the job centre. If you are worried about how you would manage on Universal Credit, Citizens Advice are experts in benefits and money management.

If the calculator suggests you will be better off, you should also check with an expert. You could contact the government's MoneyHelper for free advice.

You might be eligible for financial help from the county council’s Household Support Fund. If the fund is temporarily closed, check back in a few days or contact Cambridge Citizens Advice or 08082 787808.

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