Advice NI Calls On Tax Credit Claimants To Act ‘Before It’s Too Late’

Speaking about this issue, Kevin Higgins, Head of Policy, Advice NI said: “We understand that there were about 30,000 households in receipt of Tax Credits and none of the other legacy benefits, and so in scope to receive a Migration Notice letter between October 2023 and April 2024. These claimants then had 3 months from the date of their letter to make a claim for UC. As we reach the end of that phase, official statistics provided by the Department for Communities evidence that, by February 2024, there were only 6,880 migrated households, representing less than 25% of the total for this phase.

We know that many households would not have received a Migration Notice by the end of February, some will have delayed their claim to Universal Credit until they secured their full benefit uprating in April, and others are still within the 3-month migration window. However, the latest update we have received from the Department indicates that approximately 40% of those contacted so far are yet to make a claim for UC.”

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions in Great Britain suggest a relatively high proportion of Tax Credits recipients are not making the transition to UC at all. As a result, many people, for whatever reason, risk depriving themselves of income at a time when everyone is struggling with the cost of living crisis and making ends meet.

Kevin Higgins continued:

“In light of these statistics, we strongly urge anyone in receipt of Tax Credits who has received a Migration Notice to make the move to Universal Credit. Support is available from the independent advice sector to help people make a claim, and to understand the amount of UC they should be entitled to receive.

We believe it is especially important to make prospective ‘Move to UC’ claimants aware of the special transitional protection measures in place to ensure that those moving from Tax Credits are not at a financial disadvantage from claiming UC:

  • Normally you cannot get UC if you have more than £16,000 in capital, excluding the value of your home. A current Tax Credit recipient who makes a claim for UC following receipt of a Migration Notice will have property, savings or investments worth more than £16,000 disregarded for the first 12 months of their UC award.
  • Normally self-employed UC claimants are assessed as having an assumed level of income known as the Minimum Income Floor, regardless of whether the actual income is less than this amount. A self-employed claimant who makes a claim for UC following receipt of a Migration Notice will not have the Minimum Income Floor applied to their UC claim for the first 12 months of their UC award.
  • Normally the elements of UC and the rates payable do not exactly mirror the legacy benefits. A person who makes a claim for UC following receipt of a Migration Notice will have their entitlement to legacy benefits and UC reviewed, and if the rate of UC payable is lower than their legacy award they will be entitled to an additional transitional element of UC to make up the difference.”

Advice NI has been working closely with the Department for Communities to flag issues of concern and to try to ensure that the ‘Move to UC’ process is as smooth and supportive for claimants as possible. This ongoing engagement is appreciated and has already led to significant improvements, for example in relation to how applications from self-employed claimants are processed by Universal Credit. Albeit monthly reporting for self-employed groups such as farmers still presents a significant challenge.

Advice NI and the independent advice network is available to assist people with exploring their options and supporting them through the process of claiming Universal Credit. Contact details are available on the Advice NI website ( in relation to the help and support available, including how to access local advice provision (

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