Universal Credit will be introduced in the Antrim area from Wednesday 5 December 2018.
Universal Credit replaces six existing benefits with one and is for people of working age (18 - state pension age). It is initially for new claimants in the local area.
People in the Antrim area already claiming the existing benefits will not be affected and do not need to make a claim for Universal Credit at this time, unless their circumstances change. Existing claimants of these benefits who do not have a change in their circumstances will transfer to Universal Credit between July 2019 and March 2023.
Universal Credit will also begin in the Ballymena area from the same date. It has already been rolled out across a number of other areas of Northern Ireland.
David Sales, Universal Credit Programme Director, explained: “Universal Credit is a significant change to how benefits are claimed. In order to ensure claimants get the support they need, it is being introduced gradually across Northern Ireland from September 2017. This means we have been able to closely manage and learn from the rollout to date.”
As Universal Credit replaces claims for multiple benefits with a single claim, it is simpler to claim and more flexible. It aims to support people into work and to earn more without losing their benefits, while ensuring those who cannot work continue to receive the financial support they need. Claims are made online, with digital support available for those who may need it.
David Sales continued: “Our local staff have undertaken extensive training in preparation for Universal Credit. As it is claimed online, we have also upgraded local offices to provide a digital zone with access to PCs and free Wi-fi. Staff are available to guide new claimants through the process. So far, the vast majority of people have been able to make their online claim without needing additional assistance from our staff.”
Further information on Universal Credit and full details of the rollout are available on nidirect.
Notes to editors:
- Universal Credit (UC) was introduced in Northern Ireland in September 2017 under the Welfare Reform (NI) Order 2015, in line with the NI Executive’s decisions on welfare changes
- UC will be rolled out on a phased geographical basis by post code aligned to Jobs & Benefits Office locations. Postcodes in Antrim are aligned to the Antrim Jobs and Benefits Office. More information on the rollout timetable is available on nidirect
- Provisions will be made available for existing claimants affected by the introduction of Universal Credit when they move on to it. The Independent Welfare Changes Helpline, which has been funded by the Department to provide independent help and advice on Universal Credit and any of the other welfare changes, is 0808 802 0020
- There will also be flexibilities in relation to payments for Northern Ireland claimants, with twice monthly payments the default option. This will closely reflect the frequency of current benefit payments and is intended to offer assistance in managing household finances
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