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Can a family with 3+ children escape the UC 'lobster pot'?

6th April 2017 saw the introduction of the Two Child Limit - and since then families with three or more children have not been able to make a new claim for Universal Credit - including families living in 'Full'/Digital service areas. And things will stay this way during, what the DWP call, an interim period which is expected to be up to Autumn 2018 at the earliest.

So a question that has been on many people's minds is:

'Can a family with three or more children escape the UC lobster pot and claim legacy benefits?'

A family may wish to do this if they would be better off on the legacy benefit system (there are many reasons why a family could be better off - click here).

The answer is:

'Not if they are classed as a ‘UC claimant’'……and this status can apply to some claimants even if they chose themselves to end their UC claim.

So who is a ‘UC Claimant’ and therefore cannot make a new claim for a legacy benefits?

This will depend on whether they are claiming UC on the ‘Live’ or ‘Full’ service as the rules are different……

‘Live’/Gateway areas – who is a UC claimant?

  • Anyone with an open on-going claim for UC (unless living in ‘specified accommodation in which case can make new claim for HB).
  • Anyone who was on UC as a couple – who is now single – and it is less than one month of a previous award terminating*.
  • Anyone who was on UC, whose award reduced to nil when the assessment included some earnings – who continues to meet the basic conditions of entitlement for UC (except the claimant commitment) – and it is less than 6 months of a previous award terminating* ie has a ‘dormant’ claim.

(It is a little unclear whether a claimant who has a ‘dormant’ UC claim can withdraw that claim and so then not be a UC claimant - but we can't see why they shouldn't be able to do this.)

‘Full’/Digital areas – who is a UC claimant

  • Anyone with an open on-going claim for UC (unless living in ‘specified accommodation in which case can make new claim for HB).
  • Anyone who was on UC as a couple – who is now single – and it is less than one month of a previous award terminating*.
  • Anyone who was on UC, whose award has ended – and it is less than 6 months of a previous award terminating*.

*Award terminating = last day of last Monthly Assessment Period on which claim paid