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 when introduced 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 will be 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.

How will Universal Credit be introduced?

Universal Credit was introduced for new claims, on a phased geographical basis from 27 September 2017. The rollout will continue on a phased geographical basis until December 2018.

As it reaches the respective geographical areas, people living in those areas will be able to make a new claim for Universal Credit instead of having to submit multiple claims for the benefits that it is replacing. The planned approach is detailed below.

Week commencing   Office
27/09/2017 Limavady
15/11/2017 Ballymoney
13/12/2017 Magherafelt and Coleraine
17/01/2018 Strabane and Lisnagelvin
07/02/2018 Foyle and Armagh
21/02/2018 Omagh and Enniskillen
07/03/2018 Dungannon and Portadown
16/05/2018 Newry and Downpatrick
30/05/2018 Lurgan, Newcastle and Kilkeel
13/06/2018 Falls and Shankill
27/06/2018 Andersonstown and Banbridge
05/09/2018 Holywood Road and Ballynahinch
19/09/2018 Newtownabbey and Newtownards
03/10/2018 Shaftesbury Square and Carrickfergus
17/10/2018 Knockbreda and Bangor
31/10/2018 Lisburn and Larne
14/11/2018 North Belfast and Cookstown
05/12/2018 Ballymena and Antrim

If you receive any of the six benefits being replaced by Universal Credit you will be transferred to Universal Credit between July 2019 and March 2023. If you receive one of the existing benefits that will be replaced and you live in a Universal Credit area but your circumstances change, you may move to Universal Credit from the date of the change of circumstances.

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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