Universal Credit (UC) replaces six ‘legacy’ benefits and tax credits for working-age households. The Government first launched UC in 2013 and completed the delivery rollout of the UC Full Service to all jobcentres in Great Britain by the end of 2018.
The Department for Work and Pensions currently expects all households claiming legacy benefits and tax credits to have been notified of the need to move across to UC by the end of 2024 (with the exception of Employment Support Allowance). This expansion of UC across the target population of working-age households receiving means-tested support is what we call caseload rollout.
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How do we measure caseload rollout?
Universal Credit is the replacement for six legacy benefits and tax credits:
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Housing Benefit for working-age claimants
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit.
Households who are receiving legacy benefits and/or tax credits continue to receive these unless and until:
- they have a significant change of circumstance triggering a new claim for UC (this is natural migration to UC),
- they choose to voluntarily move to UC, or
- their circumstances don’t change but the DWP moves them across to UC (a process called managed migration). In May 2022, DWP commenced a discovery phase, to start to manage migrate households to UC. In April 2023 DWP expanded managed migration (referred to as ‘Move to UC’) and has been incrementally increasing the number of Migration Notices (the letter informing households of the need to claim UC to continue to receive financial support from the government).
The ongoing pace of caseload rollout will depend on the rate at which households close their legacy claims and open UC claims or are moved across as part of managed migration.
We measure the progress of UC caseload rollout in an area by comparing the number of households claiming UC in an area with our estimate of the total number of households still in the legacy system. Our estimate is based on the following data on legacy benefit caseloads:
- Child and Working Tax Credits for in-work households [source: HMRC Tax Credit provisional awards geographical analysis]
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Income Support
- Housing Benefit: claimants aged 16-64 who are not in employment and not ‘passported’ (i.e. not receiving any of the three means-tested out-of-work benefits listed above [all sourced from DWP Stat-xplore].
For the most recent months, when the latest statistics on legacy benefits typically lag behind Universal Credit household statistics, we estimate how much the legacy estimate has declined over the period based on the expected completion date of caseload rollout. Note that our latest estimates of legacy benefit caseloads are subject to future revision as and when new caseload statistics are published by the DWP and HMRC.
We aim to update most aspects of this dashboard monthly, in line with data releases from HMRC and the Department for Work and Pensions, but the data shown here may not be the latest available. MPs and their staff can contact the Commons Library with queries about updates.