Universal Credit was introduced in Northern Ireland in September 2017 under the Northern Ireland (Welfare Reform) Act 2015. Universal Credit is a new payment for working age people who are on low income or out of work. To get Universal Credit you must be aged 18 or over and be under State Pension age.

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a new payment that will support you if you are on a low income or out of work. It will give you the help you need to prepare for work, start work or earn more money.

To be eligible for Universal Credit you must be aged 18 or over and be under State Pension age. It will include support for the cost of housing, and when a claimant is in employment, it will also assist with childcare costs as well as providing financial support for disabled people, carers and people who are too ill to work.

What benefits are being replaced by Universal Credit?

The benefits that are being replaced are:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (income-based)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (income-related)
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefit (Rental)

A new Department of Finance Rate Rebate Scheme will provide rates support for tenants or home owners who are entitled to Universal Credit.

The following benefits will not be replaced by Universal Credit and will continue:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (Contribution- based)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (Contribution- based)
  • Child Benefit
  • Pension Credit
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

Disability Living Allowance is being replaced by Personal Independence Payment.

Introduction of Universal Credit 

Universal Credit was introduced in Northern Ireland on a phased geographical basis from 27 September 2017 until December 2018.

As Universal Credit has now rolled out across Northern Ireland, people can make a claim to Universal Credit instead of having to submit multiple claims for the six benefits that it replaced.

If you receive any of the six benefits that Universal Credit replaced but your circumstances change, you may move to Universal Credit from the date of the change of circumstances.

If you receive any of the existing benefits replaced by Universal Credit and your circumstances do not change, you will be transferred to Universal Credit between 2020 and 2023.  The Department will contact you when it is time for you to move.

Universal Credit and rented housing: guide for landlords

A guide for private and social sector landlords with information about Universal Credit is available. The guide also explains what budgeting and payment support is available for tenants who may need help.

Universal Credit: Employer Information pack

A guide for employers is available. The information pack explains what Universal Credit means for employers.

Help and Support

The Northern Ireland Executive has agreed support will be available for people on a low income who are claiming Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit. These supplementary payments will be available to help with the additional expenses of employment.

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