Ask CPAG Online - Universal Credit 'Natural Migration'

Universal credit (UC) is being introduced in a phased programme, due to be completed by 2024.

UC is replacing the following old means-tested or 'legacy benefits':

  • income support
  • income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • income-related employment and support allowance
  • housing benefit
  • tax credit

Claimants who are currently in receipt of legacy benefits can stay on those benefits until they are transferred ('migrated') onto UC.

There are two different migration processes:

  • 'natural migration', which occurs when a claimant has a change of circumstances and ends up having to claim UC, rather than another legacy benefit, to get means-tested support;

  • 'managed migration', which is the process the DWP will use to bring current awards of legacy benefits to an end and allow replacement claims for UC.

'Managed migration' is not due to begin until July 2019 and will first involve a pilot of 10,000 claimants before being rolled out to the remaining legacy benefits claimants from 2020 onwards.

By contrast, 'natural migration' is possible at any time, including before the start of the managed migration process and, since the roll out of the UC 'full service' is now complete, applies to any claimants who have a change of circumstances that would lead to a new claim being required. 

The other major difference between 'natural migration' and 'managed migration' is is that when claimants move onto UC through 'managed migration', 'transitional protection' payments will ensure that they are not paid less UC than they were receiving in legacy benefits. This does not apply to claimants transferring onto UC through 'natural migration', which means that some claimants will be worse off following natural migration onto UC (some claimants, however, will be better off).

The government has introduced rules which protect some disabled people from being worse off by ensuring that they cannot transfer to UC by 'natural migration'. These people are those who are entitled to the 'severe disability premium' as part of their legacy benefit. The rules preventing people with the 'severe disability premium' from claiming UC were introduced from 16 January 2019 by the Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) (SDP Gateway) Amendment Regulations 2019.Those who have already transferred and lost out are to receive a 'transitional payment' to compensate them but the regulations introducing this have not yet been published. This follows a court decision (TP and AR v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 14 June 2018) which held that people getting that premium who transferred to UC by 'natural migration' after moving house and having to claim UC instead of housing benefit should have been protected.

Click on the links below for more details of 'natural migration'.