How to move to universal credit

How to Move to Universal Credit from Legacy Benefits

Universal Credit is reshaping the UK welfare system by merging various existing benefits into a single, simplified payment. No matter whether you have received a Migration Notice or are considering a move due to a change in circumstances, understanding how to move to Universal Credit is vital. In this article, you will learn about the eligibility requirements, the application process, and all the necessary steps involved in transitioning from legacy benefits to Universal Credit.

Understanding Universal Credit 

Universal Credit is a major government program that helps people with their finances. For some people in Scotland, it is paid monthly or twice a month. You can get it if you’re on a low income, out of work, or unable to work. Universal Credit replaces six types of legacy benefits, which are:

  • Tax credits, including the Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), and
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Unlike these legacy benefits, Universal Credit combines all payments into one, allowing you to manage your welfare support much more easily. 

Eligibility for Transitioning Universal Credit

Transitioning to Universal Credit involves specific eligibility criteria, especially if you’ve received a Migration Notice. Typically, you’re eligible if:

  • You’re on a low income or need help with living costs.
  • You’re working (including self-employed or part-time), jobless, or a medical condition prevents you from working.
  • You live in the UK, are aged 18 or over (with some exceptions for 16 to 17-year-olds), and are under State Pension age.
  • You have £16,000 or less in money, savings, and investments.

Need Expert Help?

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Applying for Universal Credit: Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Preparation of Documentation: Before starting your application, ensure you have all the necessary documents. This includes valid identification (like a passport or driving licence), financial statements detailing income and savings, details of any other benefits you’re receiving, and information about your housing situation, such as a lease agreement or mortgage statements.

  2. Completing the Online Application: To apply, you must visit the official Universal Credit website and follow the instructions for the application. The process is designed to be straightforward, guiding you through various sections that cover your personal details, financial situation, housing circumstances, and current employment status. If you are applying in response to a Migration Notice, there is a section where you can indicate this.

  3. Scheduling and Attending the Interview: After submitting your online application, you will receive a notification to book an interview. This is a crucial step, as the interview allows you to discuss your situation in more detail with an adviser. Be ready to answer further questions about your application and to provide any additional documentation if requested. This meeting is also an opportunity to discuss your agreement, outline your responsibilities, and discuss the support you will receive while on Universal Credit.

  4. Understanding the Waiting Period and Managing Finances: After your interview, there is typically a five-week waiting period for your first Universal Credit payment. This timeline enables the processing of your application and verification of your information. If you need financial assistance during this wait, you can apply for an advance payment. This advance is a loan that you’ll need to pay back through future Universal Credit payments, so consider this carefully before applying.

  5. Receiving Your First Payment and Beyond: Your first Universal Credit payment will be deposited directly into your bank account as outlined during your application. From then on, payments are made monthly on the same date. If your circumstances change—such as finding a job, a change in income, or a change in your health situation—it is necessary to update your Universal Credit profile, as this could affect your payment amount.

Understanding Deadlines and Transitional Protection

If you’ve received a Migration Notice, you have three months from the date of the letter to apply for Universal Credit to ensure continuous financial support. This deadline could mean losing out on ‘transitional protection,’ which guarantees that individuals moving to Universal Credit will be financially better off when they switch.

Impact on Existing Benefits

When transitioning from legacy benefits to Universal Credit, it’s crucial to understand the impact on your existing benefits. Applying for Universal Credit will stop any current claims you have for the listed legacy benefits, as Universal Credit replaces these separate payments.

If you are receiving other benefits that Universal Credit does not replace, such as Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Child Benefit, these will continue unaffected. However, the overall income from Universal Credit may influence the amount you receive from these other benefits (such as Pension Credit), as your total household income is a factor in their assessment.

It’s also important to note that once you apply for Universal Credit, you cannot go back to the legacy benefits. Thus, it’s crucial to gather all the necessary information and seek guidance before deciding to switch.

Seeking Supports – How SwiftAcc Can Help

Understanding that transitioning can be complex. For personalised help or questions about your Migration Notice or eligibility, SwiftAcc professionals are here to guide you through the process, ensuring you receive the support needed during this transition. We offer guidance through the application process, help with calculating your entitlement, and support if you’re adapting to the changes due to receiving a Migration Notice.


Moving to Universal Credit is a significant shift designed to simplify the benefits system. While it aims to streamline benefits into one consolidated payment, understanding its impact on your specific circumstances is crucial. Through careful planning, staying informed, and seeking support when necessary, you can effectively manage the change and ensure that you’re making the most of the benefits available to you.

To stay updated on the latest developments and understand how recent updates might affect you, read our detailed guide on the Major changes in Universal Credit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Contact the Universal Credit Migration Notice helpline as soon as possible. If there’s a valid reason for the delay, you may receive an extension.

Yes, but only within the first 12 months. After that, the standard eligibility criteria apply, and having savings over £16,000 could affect your claim.

If you have applied for Universal Credit, your first payment is typically made at least five weeks after your application has been approved. You’ll need to think about how much money you’ll need until your first payment.

If you go abroad, you can continue to get Universal Credit for one month.

Your benefit payment can be affected by the level of savings or capital you hold. If you have savings under £6,000, they are ignored. If your savings fall between £6,000 and £16,000, they are considered as if they provide you with a monthly revenue of £4.35 per £250, regardless of whether they actually do.

If you stop working or your wages go down, your payment will increase. There are different rules if you’re self-employed. For every £1 you earn from working, your Universal Credit payment goes down by 55p. Your income will be your wages plus your new Universal Credit payment.

Your payment depends on your individual and household circumstances, including income, savings, and whether you have dependents. A benefits calculator can provide an estimation, but consult with an expert for specifics, especially regarding transitional protection.

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