Universal credit: Existing tax credit claimants
This section of the website looks at how existing tax credit claimants are affected by the roll-out of Universal Credit (UC).
At present, existing tax credit claimants are not affected by UC. From July 2019, DWP started testing the processes they will use (called 'Move to UC') to move existing tax credit claimants across to UC. The rules for this test phase allow for up to 10,000 tax credit claimants to be moved to UC during the pilot. It had been expected that the pilot would be scaled up from November 2020 so that by December 2023 remaining tax credit claimants would have been moved to UC (where that is possible). In February 2020, it was announced that the full migration process would take longer than expected and would be complete by September 2024. In March 2020, the pilot to test the processes was suspended due to the impacts of the Coronavirus outbreak in the UK and the timetable for the managed migration exercise is currently uncertain. We explain the latest information in our managed migration ('Move to UC') section.
The only way existing tax credit claimants can move to UC before that exercise happens is through 'natural migration'. This can only happen if:
- they choose to make a UC claim
- they have a change in circumstances that ends their tax credit claim but they need to continue claiming support (e.g. change from joint to single household) and they are not prohibited from claiming UC
- they need to make a claim for another benefit that has been replaced by UC. For example, a tax credit claimant who needs to make a claim for help with their rent would have claimed housing benefit previously. However, housing benefit (in most cases, although there are some exceptions) has been replaced by UC. So to access help with their rent they need to make a UC claim which in turn will end their tax credits claim.
Note: where an existing tax credit claimant falls into any of the 3 scenarios above and they have reached their state pension qualifying age (other than where they are part of a mixed-age couple), they will not be able to claim UC due to the age rules. Instead, they will be expected to claim pension credit for continued support, although there are a number of exceptions in relation to claims for Housing Benefit.
We explain more about how tax credit claims are brought to an end in these situations in our making a universal credit claim section. We also consider what happens if someone accidentally or mistakenly claims UC.
We explain which changes of circumstances will end a tax credits claim and require a UC claim in our changes of circumstances section.
Finally, we look at how HMRC finalise tax credit claims for someone moving to UC in our finalising tax credits claims section and what happens to tax credit debt when someone moves to UC in our tax credits debt section.
Last reviewed/updated 24 May 2021