Quarter of million ‘legacy’ benefit claims in NI set to be ‘moved’ to Universal Credit

Advice NI has produced the first in a series of Briefing Papers on ‘Move to UC’ which is the UK government’s plan to move ‘legacy’ social security benefit claimants onto Universal Credit by December 2024

The scale of the ‘Move to UC’ undertaking in Northern Ireland has been highlighted by Advice NI. A detailed Briefing Paper sets out the number of ‘legacy’ benefit claims in scope to be affected by ‘Move to UC’ and a range of issues including the risks associated with claimants making the move before the process starts; how people can prepare for ‘Move to UC’ and who might be better off.

Kevin Higgins, Head of Policy Advice NI, said:

“This is an incredibly complex and far-reaching process, with many thousands of people with over 250,000 separate benefit awards set to be affected by ‘Move to UC’. Whilst the Department has confirmed that nothing is likely to happen in NI this year, that means that the window for completing the ‘Move to UC’ exercise is shortened and likely, therefore, to place more pressure on everyone involved including Universal Credit staff, the independent advice network and especially the claimants.”

‘Legacy’ benefits refer to the working-age means-tested benefits that are to be replaced by Universal Credit. They are:

  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment & Support Allowance
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit.

Kevin Higgins continued:

“We also know that some claimants may now be thinking about whether they should move to Universal Credit before the process begins: our clear message is ‘don’t gamble on Universal Credit’. Comparing the amount of money someone would receive on Universal Credit as opposed to their current ‘legacy’ benefit(s) is often a complicated task, but there are some fundamental truths:

While some people may be entitled to more money under Universal Credit than they receive in the ‘legacy’ benefits system, others will be entitled to less;

People who voluntarily move from ‘legacy’ benefits to Universal Credit by natural migration and find themselves worse off will not be able to return to their ‘legacy’ benefits and will simply be expected to cope with the loss of income at a time when the cost of living is steadily rising.

People who wait until they are called forward for ‘managed migration’ will automatically avail of ‘Transitional Protection’ —a top-up payment to a claimant’s Universal Credit award to ensure that their award is equal to the amount they were receiving in the legacy system— should they find themselves in a position where they would be worse off.”

The Advice NI Briefing Paper containing a detailed breakdown of the issues involved and the number of benefit claims set to be affected in NI.

If you need advice on legacy benefits or Universal Credit please call our Freephone helpline on 0800 915 4604.



  1. Press Contact - Kevin Higgins, Head of Policy, Advice NI on 028 9064 5919.
  2. Advice NI is the umbrella body for the Independent Advice Network in Northern Ireland. In 2019/2020 Advice NI and its members dealt with 540,983 enquiries, the majority being social security benefits related.
  3. To find out more about the work of the Independent Advice Network or to obtain copies of the various publications produced by Advice NI, please contact us at 028 90 645919, email comms@adviceni.net or visit our www.adviceni.net.
  4. Advice NI Briefing Papers on ‘Move to UC’.
  5. If you need advice on legacy benefits or Universal Credit please call our Freephone helpline on 0800 915 4604.