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Migration and transitional protection

This content applies to England

Transitional protection for claimants who move from other benefits to universal credit (UC) as part of 'managed migration'.

Managed and natural migration

'Managed migration' is the process by which DWP will transfer people with live claims for existing benefits onto universal credit.

Managed migration is opposed to 'natural migration' which occurs when a claimant of, for example, housing benefit experiences a change in circumstances which means that s/he is no longer entitled to that benefit and has to claim universal credit. The government has the power to enact regulations around the process managed migration.[1] As yet, no regulations have been laid, but a draft set has been published with an explanatory memorandum giving more details.[2] It is envisaged that managed migration will start in July 2019 and last until 2023.[3] The draft regulations allow only 10,000 awards of UC to be made under managed migration. Once this number has been reached, new regulations will be needed.[4]

Note that while the word 'migration' might imply an automatic process of transfer, both managed and natural migration require the claimant to actively make a claim for universal credit.

For information about natural migration from housing benefit, see Changes in circumstances.

Process of managed migration

The draft regulations allow DWP to send a 'migration notice' to a person claiming existing benefits. This gives a date by which s/he will have to claim universal credit, known as the 'deadline day'.[5] The deadline day must be at least three months after the migration notice, but can be changed to a later date in certain circumstances.[6]

If the claimant makes the claim before the deadline day, then in most circumstances, entitlement to UC will commence on the date of the claim.[7] Most existing benefits will stop on the day before the claim for UC has been made [8] Payment of housing benefit will continue for two weeks.[9]

If a person does not claim UC by the deadline day, then entitlement to most existing benefits will stop on that day, although housing benefit will be paid for two more weeks.[10] Claims made within one further month will be treated as having been made in time and automatically be backdated to the deadline day.[11] However, if made after this time, a claim will be treated as new. In these circumstances, there will be no transitional protection (see below).

Transitional protection

Transitional protection will ensure that most claimants will not be worse off as a result of the managed migration from their previous benefits to universal credit. However, in order to benefit from transitional protection a claimant will have to have claimed for UC by the date quoted in the migration notice (the 'deadline day') or less then a month after.[12]

Transitional protection will apply where the total award that a household would receive in the first month of universal credit is less than the total award of benefits and tax credits that the household receive at the point of managed migration.[13] This will be achieved by including an extra element of UC in the claim to the value of the difference (the 'transitional element').[14]

Any sanction applicable to a household's entitlement will be ignored in the calculation.[15]

Transitional protection does not apply to natural migration to universal credit, for example as a result of a new claim or a change of circumstances.  The High Court held that a lack of transitional protection for universal credit claimants who were financially worse off as a result of having their legacy benefits terminated in error and being prevented from re-claiming them on the discovery of the awarding authority’s mistake, was not ‘manifestly without reasonable foundation’ and therefore not unlawful.[16]

The benefit cap

Note that the Benefit cap will apply to claimants who are part of the managed migration process unless they are exempt. There will be no transitional protection to mitigate its effects.[17] This means that:

  • where a claimant has had her/his housing benefit reduced to less than the minimum amount, the reduction will also be incorporated into the universal credit claim
  • where reducing housing benefit to the minimum amount left the claimant with benefits above the cap level, no further reduction will have been made. When the claimant moves to UC, however, there will be further reductions to the level of the appropriate cap.

Reducing and ending transitional protection

Reduction of amount

If other elements of a claimant's UC award increase there will be an equivalent reduction in the transitional element until the transitional element reduces to zero. This may mean that if, for example, a person's rent increases by £15 with a consequent increase in her/his housing cost element, s/he is no better off because of the effect on the transitional element. The only exception is childcare costs: if the amount awarded for these changes, the transitional element will be unaffected.[18]

Ending protection

The transitional protection lasts until there is no shortfall between the amount awarded under universal credit and the amount previously received or until:[19]

  • a partner leaves or joins the claimant's household
  • the claimant's earnings fall below the level at which s/he would be expected to look for work for three consecutive months
  • the ending of the universal credit's award.

If an award of UC which included a transitional element ends because of an increase in earned income and the claimant makes a fresh (successful) claim within three months, the element will also be included in the new award.[20]

Transitional protection regulations

References on this page are all to draft regulations. The page will be updated when regulations are enacted.

Wales

The information on this page reflects the law as applicable in England. Go to Shelter Cymru to check for variations applicable in Wales.

[1] paras 1 and 4, Schedule 6, Welfare Reform Act 2012.

[2] Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019. Note that these replace the earlier Draft Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) (Managed Migration) Amendment Regulations 2018

[3] Hansard, HC Deb 7 June 2018 cWS.

[4] proposed reg 2 Draft Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019.

[5] proposed reg 44 Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014 SI 2014/1230 as inserted by proposed reg 3(7) Draft Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019.

[6] proposed reg 44 and 45 Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014 SI 2014/1230 as inserted by proposed reg 3(7) Draft Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations.

[7] s.7 Welfare Reform Act 2012, reg 21(1) Universal Credit Regulations 2013 SI 2013/376, reg 10, Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Jobseeker's Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (Claims and Payments) Regulations 2013 SI 2013/380.

[8] regs 5, 6 and 8 Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014 SI 2014/1230 and art 4, Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No. 9 and Transitional and Transitory Provisions and Commencement No. 8 and Savings and Transitional Provisions (Amendment)) Order 2013 SI 2013/983.

[9] reg 8(2A) Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014 SI 2014/1230 as inserted by reg 6(7) Universal Credit (Miscellaneous Amendments, Saving and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2018/65.

[10] proposed reg 46(1) Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014 SI 2014/1230 as inserted by reg 3(7) Draft Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019.

[11] proposed reg 46(3) Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014 SI 2014/1230 as inserted by reg 3(7) Draft Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019.

[12] proposed reg 48, Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014 SI 2014/1230 as inserted by reg 3(7) Draft Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019.

[13] proposed reg 52(1) Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014/1230 as inserted by as inserted by reg 3(7) Draft Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019.

[14] proposed reg 52(2), reg 53 and reg 55 Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014/1230 as inserted by reg 3(7) Draft Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019.

[15] proposed reg 53 Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014/1230 as inserted by reg 3(7) Draft Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019.

[16] (1) TD, (2) AD (A child, by her litigation friend TD) & (3) Patricia Reynolds v SSWP [2019] EWHC 462 (Admin).

[17] proposed reg 53(11) Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014/1230 as inserted by reg 3(7) Draft Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019.

[18] proposed reg 55 Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014/1230 as inserted by reg 3(7) Draft Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019.

[19] proposed reg 55(3) and 56 Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014/1230 as inserted by reg 3(7) Draft Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019.

[20] proposed reg 57 Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014/1230 as inserted by reg 3(7) Draft Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019.

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