Universal credit: Moving areas

Once a person becomes entitled to UC, they stay on it even if their circumstances change or they move to a non-UC area (where it has not yet been introduced). Sometimes this is referred to as the ‘lobster pot’ principle. In areas that are part of the live service (although from 1 January 2018 it is no longer possible to make a brand new claim for UC in live service areas), once entitled to UC, the gateway conditions are not relevant so if a person has a change of circumstances that means they no longer meet one of the gateway conditions it will not necessarily affect their entitlement to UC (unless it is a change that also affects entitlement to UC). In live services areas, it may be possible to withdraw a UC claim, although advice should be taken from a welfare rights specialist before doing so.

Unfortunately the position on moving areas is not entirely clear and we are still seeking further information from DWP.

Moving from a full service area to a live service area

Our understanding is that if you claim UC in a full service area and move to a live service area, you will remain classified as a ‘digital service claimant’ meaning that the digital rules would continue to apply.

However, it does appear, in this situation, some claimants may be able to withdraw their UC claim and reclaim tax credits (see above for more information on the factors to consider if contemplating this). However, specialist advice is needed to establish if this is possible, the consequences of doing so and the timing considerations involved.

From 1 January 2018, the live service will no longer accept brand new claims although existing live service UC claimants will remain in UC, as will some other people who have certain changes of circumstances and can re-claim in live service areas. See our live service page for more information.

Moving from a live service area to a full service area

It is not clear what happens to someone who claims UC in a live service area and then moves to a full service area and whether they would become a ‘digital service claimant’ and be subject to slightly different rules. We are seeking clarification on this point.

However what is clear is that once a claimant moves from a live service area to a full service area, they are unlikely to be able to withdraw their UC claim and claim tax credits because HMRC would reject the claim as they are living in a full service postcode (unless an exception applied which meant they could make a tax credits claim).

Last reviewed/updated 31 May 2018