Universal credit will be launched for new claimants from October 2013, whilst claims for existing benefits are phased out.
There are currently around 12.5 million claims in place for the benefits that will be replaced by universal credit. Because of the number of people affected the Department for Work and Pensions has decided to phase in the introduction of universal credit between 2013 and 2017.
When you claim universal credit will depend on where you live and whether you are making a new claim or you are being transferred from a benefit that is being replaced.
In Lewisham universal credit will go live after April 2014.
Those on benefits that are being replaced will be transferred in one of two ways:
- Natural migration – if you experience a significant change of circumstance that affects your benefit entitlement the opportunity will be taken to move you on to universal credit at that point.
- Managed migration – if your circumstances don't change, once universal credit has been established in every part of the country the Department for Work and Pensions will begin systematically to move people over to universal credit on a systematic basis.
You can use the Department for Work and Pensions Universal Credit Personal Planner to work out how the changes will affect you. It will provide information and advice tailored to you.
The benefit cap
From summer 2013 a cap will be introduced on the total amount of benefit that working age people can receive. This will mean that workless households should no longer receive more in benefits than the average earnings of working households.
Find out more about how the benefit cap will affect you.
Universal Credit national timetable
From 29 April 2013 newly unemployed people in one of the Pathfinder pilot areas, Ashton-under-Lyne, will claim universal credit (UC) rather than Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA).
October 2013 to April 2014
From October 2013 a ‘phased roll out’ will begin, with one district per region taking on new UC claims. It is expected that this roll out will include more complex claims.
April 2014 to late 2015
From April 2014 the DWP intend that all new claims from working age people, everywhere in the UK, will be for UC instead of the benefits it replaces. Pensioners will still be able to claim Housing Benefit up until October 2014.
From the end of 2015 to October 2017
Around three million households receiving housing benefit will be transferred to universal credit on a local authority boundary basis council area by council area under 'managed migration' as the old benefit system winds down.
New claims for UC and 'natural migration' on to UC will continue as well.
For further details of the national rollout you can visit the Government website.