Collected on this sub- page are some of the free Big Book resources on Universal Credit, that you may find helpful.
They also appear on our general Downloads page along alongside resources for other benefits, news and updaters for the Big Books and the training courses we offer.
Please feel free to download , print, use or make into paper aeroplanes on a wet afternoon
Do I need to switch to UC?
If you are new to claiming means tested help when you are of working age” (from 16 to 66) things are more straightforward . For better or worse you need to start a claim for Universal Credit, as you cannot start a new claim for a “legacy benefit”
It gets a bit more complicated if you are still getting “legacy benefits” . For now you stay as you are, but will at some point need to switch over to UC. You will do this beither:
- choosing to make a claim for UC instead ; or
- having to make a “natural migration” to UC because of a change in circumstances
- having to make a “managed migration” to UC when they write to you requiring you to make a claim for UC instead. This will start happening slowly from April 2022
Does it matter how I switch? Yes, especially if you stand to get less under UC than you currently get under “legacy benefits” . That’s because only the “managed migration gives you full protection agains any losses at the time you switch over to UC
When do I have to switch to UC?
There is a myth doing the rounds in the DWP that “any change of circumstances will lead to a need to switch from legacy benefits to UC” This is wrong.
The golden rule is:
“Is it a change of circumstances that would require a new claim under the legacy benefits system?”
As you cannot usually do that , then you would need to claim UC instead.
Protections for those getting a severe disability premium (SDP) and possibly for disabled children too
There was an exception for a time after 16th January 2019, which came about after a Court ruling that forcing people to switch to UC without transitional protection for lost disability amounts , amounted to unlawful disability discrimination when a Court ruling after a Court ruling against unlawful discrimination by the DWP, a new SDP Gateway, meant that:
- At first the DWP set up an SDP Gateway which meant that you could not claim UC if you were receiving a “severe disability premium” (SDP) within any of your legacy benefits. Instead, you were able to make a new claim for a “legacy benefit” if your circumstances changed.
- However, this all changed from 27th January 2021. You would now switch to UC – if you had a relevant change of circumstances that needed you to make a new claim – but would now get a special SDP Transitional Element, so that you would not lose out on that part of your legacy benefit.
- In January 2022, the High Court told DWP to stop messing about and quibbling the amount of that element. It needs to include the full difference in sickness and disability money. They also added the same protection need to apply to children and young people who lose out from the lower rate of chid disability element being much lower in UC than it is in Child Tax Credit. At the time of writing , we are waiting to see if DWP will seek to appeal or how they will implement this new High Court decision.
If in doubt as to whether you get an SDP, check your last notification of how your current benefit is worked out or get advice. There may be some people who should be getting an SDP in their legacy benefits but did not take the steps to get it added. It’s not too late to do so.
General information on changes of circumstances
Some further resources around switching over to UC include:
- A general single-sided flowchart of when a change in circumstances might mean you have to switch from “legacy benefits” to UC leads to a switch to UC here
- A more detailed table of examples situations of changes of circumstances that may lead to a need to switch to UC, in collaboration with Newcastle Welfare Rights.- available here
There have been instances of DWP and other benefit officers mistakenly advising people they need to switch because of a change of circumstances or just encouraging such a change. Most recently there is an active campaign to encourage people to switch to UC voluntarily . In answer to questions from the Work and Pensions Select committee, DWP have stated that is not their policy intention and people will be compensated:
- See the news post – and video and other links – from the National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers (NAWRA) – available here
Get advice before claiming UC
If in doubt, do get advice before claiming UC as you cannot switch back to legacy benefits:
- Some people will get more from Universal Credit than they get from their legacy benefits and so may want to switch over to UC as soon as possible. But still get advice to double check and to plan your switch to UC and choosing the best time to switch.
- Others will lose out under the changes. There is the special protection above if you are getting a severe disability premium – and now it seems for child disability elements – but other parts of your “legacy benefit are not protected unless you get the full protection that comes with a switch via a “managed migration” . These will start happening slowly from April 2022 and the pace will pick up later in the year.
However, please note that this full protection will still not apply if you switch to UC via a “natural migration” or just decide to switch voluntarily.
New claim or switching to UC – Tips when making a UC claim:
- Surviving a claim for UC : Top Tips – a run through of potential pitfalls and suggestions when you make a claim for UC – available here
- A DWP video following a trouble free claim offers useful screenshots of the claim pages and process as it should happen and the online journal and other resources to check your claim and keep it going. It is available here.
- Trying a practice claim – if you want to have a run through the form, without actually making a claim, follow the link here
How much UC can I get?
- JUST UPDATED 🙂 – UC Calculation Sheet – April 2022-23 – all the figures and a template for doing the sums – on a single page – available