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Universal Credit (UC) is gradually replacing tax credits, and some other social security benefits. Universal credit is now available across the UK and HMRC state that it is no longer possible for anyone to make a brand-new claim for tax credits. The only exception is for certain people who are granted refugee status. Instead, people are expected to claim UC or pension credit depending on their circumstances.  Currently, existing tax credit claimants can continue to renew their tax credits and/or add extra elements to their claim. See our existing tax credit claimants page for more information. Our understanding is that the majority of existing tax credit claimants will move to either universal credit or pension credit by the end of the 2024/25 tax year. You can find out more about this in our universal credit section. 

Updated on 6 April 2024

Migration process

Managed migration is the formal process used by DWP and DfC for moving existing tax credit claimants (or other legacy benefits) to universal credit.

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The managed migration process for tax credit (and other legacy benefit) claimants is a new process developed by DWP. Whilst there is a process to follow, DWP may continue to adapt and develop the steps and communications as the migration exercise evolves.

The migration process broadly involves inviting existing tax credit (and other legacy benefit) claimants to make a claim for universal credit by a certain deadline. If they do not, the notice tells them that their current tax credits (or other legacy benefits) will end.

Managed migration process

The main difference between voluntary and natural migration compared to managed migration is transitional protection. Due to the universal credit rules, some people will be better off claiming universal credit, some will get about the same and others will get less on universal credit than they get from their legacy benefits.

  Transitional protection is only available if you claim universal credit after receiving a managed migration notice and only if you make your universal credit claim within certain time limits.

The Government say that transitional protection payments will make up the difference if your universal credit entitlement is less than your previous tax credits or benefits. In reality, the rules for calculating transitional protection are complex and don’t always guarantee you will get transitional protection even if your universal credit is less than your tax credits and other legacy benefits. 

If you start to claim universal credit by choice or because of a change of circumstances rather than because you have received your formal migration notice, you will not have access to any transitional protection - the one exception being for certain claimants entitled to a severe disability premium in their legacy benefits (income support, JSA and ESA).

The migration notice

A migration notice will be sent to you by post. It will tell you that all your awards of any existing benefits  which universal credit is replacing and that you are currently getting will terminate and that you will need to make a claim for universal credit. It also sets out the day, called the deadline day, by which you need to make your universal credit claim to be covered by transitional protection.

If you are part of a joint claim, both of you, as joint claimants should be sent a migration notice. This also applies for certain legacy benefits which are individual claims but the claimant has a partner for the purposes of that benefit.

You can request a copy or duplicate of your migration notice but the original deadline day will be the same.

The deadline day

The migration notice will tell you the date that you must make your universal credit claim by. This is called the deadline day.

Generally, you should have at least 3 months from the date the notice is issued to make your universal credit claim but sometimes DWP might give a longer period.

Extending the deadline

DWP can extend the deadline day if they choose to or if you ask for an extension, but only if there is good reason and you make the request before the original deadline. You should contact DWP on the number stated on the letter if you need longer to make your universal credit claim.

Cancelling the migration notice

DWP can cancel a migration notice if it was sent in error or, for example, if you fall into one of the deferred groups of claimants who are not currently being brought into the migration exercise.

DWP can also cancel migration notices if you have a change of circumstances, after the notice was issued, that puts you into one of the deferral groups.

Termination of existing benefits

If you do not make your claim for universal credit on or before the deadline day set out in your migration notice, all existing legacy benefits and tax credits that you have been receiving will still terminate. The benefits involved are the ones that universal credit is replacing – income-related ESA, income-based JSA, income support, housing benefit, working tax credit and child tax credit.

It may be the case that in some cases DWP may suspend, rather than terminate, legacy benefits and extend the deadline day to allow you to make your universal credit claim. We recommend seeking advice from a welfare rights specialist in this situation.

Working tax credit and child tax credit terminate the day before the deadline day. Income-related ESA, income-based JSA, income support, housing benefit awards will terminate on the last day of the period of 2 weeks beginning with the deadline day. This effectively gives a 2 week run-on of these benefits.

The only exception to the termination rule is where there is an award of housing benefit which is based on entitlement in respect of specified accommodation or temporary accommodation because these awards will not terminate if no claim is made before the deadline in the migration notice.

Claiming universal credit on or before the deadline day

If you are a tax credit claimant and you receive a migration notice and you make your claim for universal credit, you don’t need to tell HMRC that you have claimed universal credit.

Once the universal credit claim has been made, DWP’s usual processes around verifying information and evidence apply – such as establishing claimant identity and checking details of any rent payments. If you do not provide DWP with the information they request within a month of the request, the claim will be closed.

If you also receive your standard tax credit renewal pack during the migration process, you should complete it as well as any in-year finalisation forms you receive.

Claiming universal credit after the deadline day

If you receive a migration notice and do not claim universal credit on or before the deadline day, your tax credit award (and any other legacy benefit) will be terminated.

However, there is a grace period to give you more time to make your universal credit claim. This means that provided you claim universal credit within a month of the deadline day, your universal credit award will still start from the original deadline day and you can still benefit from the transitional protection rules. This is sometimes called the final deadline day as it falls on what would be the last day of your first universal credit assessment period.

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