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

'Natural migration' describes the process which results in claimants moving off 'legacy benefits' and onto universal credit (UC) when their circumstances change. 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;

  • living in a 'gateway (live service) area' (see below) from claiming IBJSA or IRESA if they satisfy the 'gateway conditions' for claiming UC (these benefits are abolished when a claim is made for UC, JSA or ESA in a full service area or in a gateway area where the claimant satisfies the gateway conditions);

  • entitled to UC from being entitled to legacy benefits.

For details of 'gateway' and '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 claim 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?