Universal credit: Transitional protection

Transitional protection – managed migration to UC
Transitional SDP element
Transitional protection – state pension age claimants

Transitional protection managed migration

The Government have said that anyone that is ‘managed migrated’ over to Universal Credit in the formal exercise by DWP will not lose out in cash terms at the point they are moved where their circumstances remain the same. In order to ensure this happens, if the UC award is less than the total being received under the legacy benefits, the new UC award (upon managed migration) will include a transitional protection in the form of an additional amount to broadly make up the difference between UC amount awarded and what the claimant was receiving in total from legacy benefits (for example tax credits).

The managed migration process, including the calculation of transitional protection, is to be trialled under a pilot phase to start with. This started in July 2019 and was to run until July 2020 but the pilot was suspended in March 2020 due to the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK. It is not clear when it will re-commence.

The migration regulations were published in July 2019 (Northern Ireland equivalent).  The regulations for the pilot are the same as those previously published in draft form in November 2018, however they also include a limit on the number of cases that can be migrated under the pilot (test) phase. This means no more than 10,000 claimants can be moved across as part of the pilot and under these regulations.

It has been confirmed that Parliament will be given a further vote before the migration exercise is scaled up to the remaining legacy benefit caseload.

DWP's intention was to take remaining tax credit claimants (and other legacy benefit claimants) through the managed migration process between November 2020 and September 2024, although it is not clear whether this end date will change due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic which caused a suspension of the pilot.

Transitional protection – managed migration to UC

The Government have said that anyone that is ‘managed migrated’ over to Universal Credit in the formal exercise by DWP (‘move to UC’) will not lose out in cash terms at the point they are moved where their circumstances remain the same. In order to ensure this happens, if the UC award is less than the total being received under the legacy benefits, the new UC award (upon managed migration) will include transitional protection in the form of an additional amount to broadly make up the difference between UC amount awarded and what the claimant was receiving in total from legacy benefits (for example tax credits).

The managed migration process, including the calculation of transitional protection, was set to be trialled under a pilot phase to start with. This started in July 2019 and was to run until July 2020 but the pilot was suspended in March 2020 due to the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK. The pilot recommenced in May 2022 and DWP expect to complete the whole migration exercise by the end of 2024

The migration regulations were published in July 2019 (Northern Ireland equivalent).  The regulations for the pilot were the same as those previously published in draft form in November 2018, however they also include a limit on the number of cases that can be migrated under the pilot (test) phase. This means no more than 10,000 claimants can be moved across as part of the pilot and under these regulations.

It was confirmed that Parliament would be given a further vote before the migration exercise was scaled up to the remaining legacy benefit caseload. It is not yet clear whether further legislation will be required to re-start the work following the suspension of that initial trial, however draft regulations  have been sent to the Social Security Advisory Committee which seek to remove the 10,000 claimant limit in the 2019 regulations and make other adjustments.

Transitional SDP element

From 27 January 2021, people who receive a severe disability premium (SDP) with a social security benefit (or have been receiving a SDP and continue to meet the criteria for SDP but the benefit has ceased in the previous month) are no longer prevented from making a new claim for UC and, consequently, can no longer make a brand new claim for legacy benefits.

The transitional SDP element is to be included in the calculation of the UC award for those SDP recipients who make a new claim for UC from 27 January. However, the transitional SDP element is liable to erosion over time in the same way as other transitional protection elements.

The transitional SDP element is not payable in cases where a transitional element is already being paid for claims made prior to 27 January 2021 and is not payable where the SDP recipient is joining the household and making a new joint UC claim with an existing UC claimant.

Further details about the new element are set out in the DWP’s decision makers guidance ADM 1/21

Transitional protection - state pension age claimants

For those tax credit claimants who have reached state pension age (in a couple, where both claimants have reached state pension age), they will move to pension credit instead of universal credit. No details have been released yet about whether this will be a managed migration similar to the move to UC nor have any details about transitional protection been given.

Most mixed age couples are not able to claim pension credit and must claim UC instead. However, those who were in receipt of pension age housing benefit on 14 May 2019 and who have not had any break in their claim, can claim pension credit. It is not yet clear how existing tax credit claimants in this position will be dealt with.

Last reviewed/updated 25 May 2022