The coalition government launched Universal Credit (UC) in 2010 to replace six means-tested benefits for working-age households. There are currently around 6 million people receiving UC. Most of these were new applications, or claimants whose circumstances changed or who chose to switch from legacy benefits.

At the end of 2022, some 2.5 million households remained on legacy benefits. The Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) intends to move many of these to UC through a process it calls ‘managed migration’. It started to scale up this process in April 2023, starting with Tax Credit claimants. DWP aims to complete the migration of around one million claimants to UC by March 2025.

In the Autumn Statement 2022, the government announced it would defer the managed migration of those on income-related Employment and Support Allowance to UC until 2028. It said the delay would save some £1 billion.


Our report will look at whether DWP is making good progress in replacing legacy benefits with UC. It will consider whether DWP:

  • is making the progress expected in implementing UC
  • is well-placed to undertake the managed migration of claimants from legacy benefits to UC effectively
  • has a plan to complete the move of all claimants from legacy benefits to UC

NAO Team

Director: Laura Brackwell
Audit Manager: Mark Parrett