Ask CPAG Online - ESA Problem Areas Tranfers from ESA to universal credit
Transfers from ESA to universal credit
IRESA is being replaced by universal credit (UC) in a phased programme. UC consolidates means-tested support for people under pension credit age into one benefit and includes extra payments for people assessed as having ‘limited capability for work-related activity’.
New claims for IRESA are no longer possible in UC 'full service areas'. Contributory ESA (-ESA) will continue to exist alongside UC and will count in full as income when calculating the amount of UC payable.
When will you be transferred onto UC?
The Government has said that existing claimants of IRESA will be transferred in a phased migration programme beginning in July 2019 and ending by March 2022. The detailed rules and arrangements have yet to be announced. 'Transitional protection' will ensure that you are not worse off when transferring from your current benefits onto UC.
If you are getting CESA, you will stay on that benefit but will be subject to new rules, including more stringent conditionality and sanctions.
Can you still claim ESA if you live in a UC area?
UC is being introduced in a phased programme by area. See Chapter 2 of the CPAG Handbook for full details of the introduction of UC.
If you live in a UC 'gateway area', you cannot claim UC if you are not fit for work, are entitled to ESA, or are disputing an ESA decision. In these circumstances, you can still claim ESA if you satisfy the normal conditions.
If you live in a UC 'full service area', you cannot claim IRESA and must claim UC to get means-tested help while you are sick. If you are appealing against a decision that you are not entitled to ESA because you do not have 'limited capabilty for work', you can get IRESA pending your appeal (see Can you get ESA while you are challenging a decision? as long as you have not claimed JSA of UC pending your mandatory reconsideration.
For more details about the effect of the introduction of UC on ESA, see Universal Credit: Natural Migration.