Natural migration

The main provisions that lead to claimants having to naturally migrate to universal are set out in -

  • the 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.No.983/2013);
  • the Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No. 23 and Transitional and Transitory Provisions) Order 2015 (SI.No.634/2015); and
  • the Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014 (SI.No.1230/2014).

The relevant provisions in these regulations were extended to all areas of the UK by individual Commencement Orders.

NB: See below for equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland.

Losing right to claim legacy benefits

Article 4 of SI.No.983/2013

Sets out the general rules for the abolition of income-based JSA and income-related ESA.

Regulations 5 and 6 of SI.No.1230/2014

Make provision preventing entitlement to and claims for income support, housing benefit or tax credits.

Regulations 7 and 8 of SI.No.1230/2014

Set out rules for the termination of income support, housing benefit and tax credits when a universal credit claim is made.

Retaining right to claim legacy benefits

Article 5A(1) of SI.No.983/2014 and article 7(2) of SI.No.634/2015

Make provision enabling new claims for existing benefits where universal credit cannot be claimed.

Regulation 79(2A) of SI.No.213/2006

Provides that no new claim for housing benefit is required if moving to new accommodation within the same local authority area.

Regulation 5(2)(a) of SI.No.1230/2014 and paragraphs 1(a) and 3B of schedule 1 to SI.No.376/2013

Make provision so that housing benefit is payable for specified accommodation or temporary accommodation.

Regulation 3(1)(j) of SI.No.1968/1987

Provides for ESA to be awarded pending a limited capability for work appeal.

Regulations 2 and 3 of SI.No.10/2019

Make provision to introduce the SDP gateway, preventing claims to universal credit by claimants entitled to an SDP - or who have been within the last month - and consequential amendments to provide for such claimants to continue to claim existing legacy benefits.

Section 1 of the Welfare Reform Act 2007

Provides that old-style contributory and income-related ESA are one benefit for claims purposes, so no new claim is required to add income-related ESA to contributory ESA - confirmed in LH v SSWP [2014] UKUT 480 AAC.

In Northern Ireland, SR.No.190/2017 and SR.No.226/2016 make provisions that are largely equivalent to that in Great Britain.

Further explanation of the legislation is set out in guidance. Please note, however, guidance is not binding and cannot override the legislation.

Advice for decision making

Chapter M6

Sets out the effects of transition to universal credit.

Advice for decision making

Chapter M5

Includes guidance on the SDP Gateway.

Housing benefit adjudication circular


Provides guidance on when new universal credit claims are required.

Housing benefit adjudication circular


Includes guidance on the SDP Gateway and housing benefit.

DWP guidance from

Closing the gateway for claimants with SDP

Sets out guidance for DWP staff on how the SDP Gateway operates.

Case law​ provides further interpretation of the legislation and establishes legal precedent.

Upper Tribunal

[2020] UKUT 48 (AAC)

Whether income support including a disability premium is ‘paid on grounds of incapacity for work or disability’ / whether income support is extinguished or suspended where claimant is imprisoned

Court of Appeal

[2020] EWCA Civ 37

Court of Appeal upholds High Court judgments that failure to protect income of severely disabled claimants migrating to universal credit is unlawful

High Court

[2019] EWHC 1116 (Admin)

Universal credit migration arrangements as originally drafted for those who received severe disability premium before 16 January 2019 were unlawful.

High Court

[2019] EWHC 462 (Admin)

Failure to provide transitional protection for claimants who transferred to universal credit following incorrect legacy benefit decision was not unlawful.

High Court

[2018] EWHC 1474 (Admin)

Government’s initial failure to protect benefit rates for severely disabled people migrating to universal credit was unlawful.

Upper Tribunal

[2018] UKUT 306 (AAC)

Withdrawal of universal credit claim did not mean that it retrospectively ceased to exist for purposes of ending tax credit award.

Court of Appeal

[2020] EWCA Civ 618

Court of Appeal rules that failure to provide transitional protection for claimants who transferred to universal credit following incorrect legacy benefit decision was unlawful

Upper Tribunal

[2020] UKUT 239 (AAC)

Whether a single tax credits claimant could avoid prohibition on claiming tax credits in a universal credit full-service area by relying on previous year’s joint award.