Universal Credit was introduced in Northern Ireland in September 2017.
This is a single payment for working-age people who may be on a low income or out of work and claiming benefit. It includes support for the cost of housing, children and childcare, as well as financial support for disabled people, carers and people who are too ill to work.
There have also been many changes to the benefits system over the last few years and these are set to continue. These changes could affect you and your family in a number of ways so it’s important to be aware of the changes so you can prepare well in advance.
Universal Credit key facts
Universal Credit replaces several means-tested benefits including Housing Benefit. This is a single payment for working-age people who may be on a low income or out of work. To claim Universal Credit, the claimant must agree a commitment that they will look for work or strive to increase their earnings if they are already working.
The following means-tested benefits will be replaced by Universal Credit:
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
To be eligible for Universal Credit in Northern Ireland the claimant must:
- Live in Northern Ireland
- Be 18 years of age or over (some claimants aged 16 may be eligible)
- Be under State Pension age
- Not be in full-time education
- Not have savings or capital over £16,000
Universal Credit is a digital service. This means that the benefit application and all subsequent communications relating to the claim will be carried out online. Claimants will not receive letters or emails about their claim they have a responsibility to regularly log into their online Universal Credit account to access any communications about their claim.