Moving to Universal Credit

This information applies to England and Wales.

Universal Credit replaces the following legacy benefits:

Universal Credit rollout

Universal Credit has been rolled out across the UK for:

  • new claimants
  • people who must make a new claim due to a change in circumstances 
  • existing claimants who receive a migration notice asking them to claim UC

There are exceptions to this. 

Check if you can get Universal Credit (Citizens Advice)

If you are receiving a legacy benefit and do not have a change in circumstances, you do not need to do anything until the DWP contacts you about moving to Universal Credit.

Guidance for people who have received a Migration Notice (GOV.UK)

If you must claim Universal Credit, you will wait at least 5 weeks for your first payment.

If you move to Universal Credit, your existing claim will end.

You may be entitled to transitional protection if:

  • you are asked to claim UC by the DWP or
  • you receive the Severe Disability Premium and have a change of circumstances

Transitional protection

5 week wait

If you must claim Universal Credit, you will wait at least 5 weeks for your first payment.

You will get a 'run-on' payment, worth up to 2 weeks of your old benefits and premiums. This includes:

  • Income Support

  • income-based JSA

  • income-based ESA 

You do not need to pay this back. It will not affect the amount of UC you get.

More about run-on payments (GOV.UK)

Advance payments

If you cannot wait 5 weeks, you can apply for an advance payment by:

You will have to pay back your advance payment.

Get an advance payment of Universal Credit (Citizens Advice)

Transitional protection and Universal Credit

Waiting for your money

While you wait for Universal Credit, here are some steps you can take:

  • Work out what you owe.
  • Check your bill payments are on time.
  • Use a budget planner to take control of your finances.
  • If you can, buy items such as nappies, washing powder and other essentials in bulk.

Use the Turn2us benefits calculator to find out what you can claim.

Free food and food banks

Budgeting to stay out of debt

Visit our online community to ask how other people have managed on a budget.

Money-saving ideas for disabled people (Money Saving Expert)

Mental health and benefits

The benefit process can be stressful. There are things you can do if it’s affecting your mental health. These can include:

  • accessing mental health support
  • talking to a mental health charity about how you are feeling
  • talking to other disabled people on our online community

Support if claiming benefits affects your mental health

If your mental health means you find it hard to work or do daily tasks, you could claim benefits. These will depend on the criteria, but can include depression or anxiety.

Benefits and mental health

Warning Prioritise your bills

It’s important to budget so that you can pay important bills. You should prioritise:

  • rent or mortgage to avoid losing your home
  • Council Tax and court fines as you could go to prison if you do not pay
  • energy bills because it's important to stay warm

Government help with your energy bills

Change in circumstances

You must contact DWP if your situation changes. The DWP calls this a change in circumstances. Your claim could be reduced or stopped if you do not report this change immediately.

If your circumstances have not changed, you do not need to claim Universal Credit until DWP contacts you.

Check if a change affects your Universal Credit (Citizens Advice).

Help claiming Universal Credit

You can contact the Universal Credit helpline if:

  • you cannot use digital services

  • you have a question about your claim and cannot access your online claim

Universal Credit Helpline (GOV.UK)

Citizens Advice run a Help to Claim service to help you:

  • work out if you can get Universal Credit

  • fill in the Universal Credit application

  • prepare for your first job centre appointment

  • check your first payment is correct

Help to Claim (Citizens Advice)

Dealing with deductions

If you have an overpayment under the Universal Credit system, the DWP will take a monthly deduction from your Universal Credit.

What is an overpayment under the Universal Credit system (Turn2us)

Overpayments can happen because of:

  • incomplete information on your claim form
  • failure to mention a change in circumstances
  • an unpaid loan from the DWP
  • the late award of another benefit or income
  • a banking error
  • an official error
  • fraud

If you’ve been overpaid and cannot repay, seek benefits advice (MoneyHelper).

Appealing a benefit decision

Last reviewed by Scope on: 09/10/2023

Was this page helpful?

We're sorry to hear that.

Tell us how we can improve it

More about managing money

Opens in a new windowOpens an external siteOpens an external site in a new window