Ask CPAG Online - What is Natural Migration onto Universal Credit?

'Natural migration' is the process which results in claimants moving off 'legacy benefits' and onto universal credit (UC), usually when their circumstances change and they need to make a new claim. The 'legacy benefits' (which UC is replacing) are:

  • income support (IS)
  • income-based jobseeker's allowance (IBJSA)
  • income-related employment and support allowance (IRESA)
  • housing benefit (HB)
  • tax credit (TC)

Once claimants move onto UC, their legacy benefits stop and they cannot reclaim them while they remain entitled to claim UC.

Why does natural migration happen?

Natural migration happens because the law1 generally prevents anyone:

  • living in a UC 'full service area' (see below) from claiming a legacy benefit;
  • entitled to UC from being entitled to legacy benefits.

For details of 'full service' areas, see Where does natural migration happen?

This means that if you are claiming a legacy benefit and your circumstances change, you may be prevented from claiming another legacy benefit and will have to claim UC instead, in which case your award of legacy benefits will terminate. Note that only changes of circumstances which would, prior to UC, have prompted you to make a new claim for another legacy benefit can result in natural migration onto UC. Changes of circumstances which only affect the amount of the legacy benefit(s) you are getting and which would not have required you to claim a different legacy benefit to get more help, will not result in migration onto UC.

For more details and examples of when natural migration occurs, see When does natural migration happen?