factchecking myths and misconceptions about universal credit

“No new claims for tax credits are allowed, you have to claim universal credit”

The short answer:

That’s not the case … new claims can be made in limited circumstances

Although the general rule is that no new claims for child tax credit (CTC) or working tax credit (WTC) can be made from 1 February 2019, there are a number of exceptions that can allow new claims where -

  • you already have an award of WTC and you become entitled to CTC (or vice versa) - this is treated as a change of circumstances so you can add the other type of tax credit to your existing claim;
  • you were entitled to CTC and/or WTC in 2018/2019 and you are claiming for 2019/2020;
  • you are prevented from claiming universal credit because you are, or were in the last month, entitled to a legacy benefit that includes a severe disability premium;
  • you are prevented from claiming universal credit because you are a frontier worker.

If you are prevented from making a new claim for tax credits, your options are limited to -

  • claiming universal credit if you (and your partner if you have one) are of working age;
  • claiming pension credit (which includes amounts for children after 1 February 2019) if you (and your partner if you have one) are over pension age;
  • if you are in a mixed age couple - where one of you is pension age or over and one of you is working age - depending on your circumstances you may be able to claim pension credit or universal credit - see the linked myth Mixed-age couples can no longer choose to claim pension age benefits instead of universal credit for further details of when these options may apply.

Law and case law:

Welfare Reform Act 2012 (Commencement No. 32 and Savings and Transitional Provisions) Order 2019 (SI.No.167/2019) commences provision to abolish tax credits and amends existing rules to provide for limited exceptions.

Official guidance:

Advice for decision making Memo 03/19 on abolition of tax credits.

Need more help?

If you need help in finding out more about your rights and the options available to you, do consider contacting a local independent advice organisation. 

Enter a postcode on our advicelocal site to find details of advice organisations in your area. They will usually be able to offer free advice and support, and help to answer any questions you have.

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