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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Universal credit migration  →  Thread

Will a move to a new area trigger a forced move from ESA to UC?

PandaNBTA
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National Bargee Travellers Association, Reading

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I think I may have posted a similar question before but I can’t find my own posting via the search facility.  My client is going to move to a boat from a house and currently gets ESA and PIP. If they move to a different Local Authority area would this trigger a forced move to UC and the loss of their ESA and PIP?

If so, is the relevant Local Authority the District Council or the County Council where it’s not a unitary authority?

There would be no other changes of circumstances - the client is not claiming or planning to claim any other benefits eg HB at present.

Many thanks.

Elliot Kent
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Shelter

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There isn’t such a thing as a UC trigger or forced move.

The rule is that you can’t make a new claim for HB or the other legacy benefits.

Often someone will be getting HB in LA 1. They move to LA 2 where they have rent to pay. Their HB in LA 1 stops as they leave. They can’t claim HB in LA 2 so they end up either claiming UC or doing without help with their housing costs. The reason for that is because they can’t make the new HB claim - it’s not an automatic result of moving.

But in your case, if the client either wouldn’t qualify for or doesn’t want help with their housing costs, this doesn’t apply. There would be no reason for him to make a new claim for HB if he could, so the fact that he is prevented from doing it doesn’t change anything. He can just stay on ESA and PIP wherever he goes.

Also, PIP would not be affected by a move to UC anyway - it is separate to the UC system. It might also be that if the ESA he is getting is contributory, then that would still continue regardless.

Cordelia
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Welfare rights officer - Wrexham Council Welfare Rights Team

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Hi Panda,

There shouldn’t be a forced move, however people often find themselves in situations where not claiming UC would leave them without essential income.  I find it easier to think in terms of “does this person need to claim UC because their current benefits don’t cover their needs?”

Moving from one local authority to another often requires someone to claim UC because they need to pay rent in their new area.  Even if they were previously on Housing Benefit in their old area, that claim will end when they leave that Local Authority, and if they are moving into a mainstream tenancy they cannot start a HB claim in their new area. 
From what you’ve said that doesn’t apply to your client, so there is no need to claim UC. 

Unfortunately not all DWP staff seem to grasp this, and we do see people being wrongly advised to claim UC, sometimes leaving them worse off in the long term. 

It would help to know more about your client’s circumstances though - in particular whether they are getting an SDP now and whether they will continue to qualify for it after they move.  Or are they moving in with a partner?  Moving in with a partner who is already on UC would result in your client’s income-related ESA stopping, and the partner’s single claim would become a couple claim.

PandaNBTA
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National Bargee Travellers Association, Reading

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Thank you Elliot and Cordelia, that’s really helpful - as always.