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Introduction to Universal Credit

Universal Credit will be one single benefit for people aged 18 to 64 years old paid to each household. Some 16 and 17 year olds will be able to claim it, depending on their circumstances. Universal Credit has not been introduced in Northern Ireland.

How will it affect me?

Once introduced in Northern Ireland, Universal Credit can be claimed if you are not working, looking for work or working in a low paid job or are sick and not able to work.

You will be able to claim Universal Credit if you:

  • are not working
  • are looking for work
  • are working in a low paid job
  • are sick and not able to work

You can also get extra amounts for:

  • children or a young person you are getting child benefit for
  • rent
  • a mortgage, depending on your circumstances
  • limited capability for work due to mental or physical health problems
  • caring for a severely disabled person

Universal Credit will be made up of separate amounts of money to meet your personal needs, whether you are a single person or part of a couple.

If you are currently receiving benefits that are due to be replaced by Universal Credit, the Social Security Agency will be in touch, to guide and assist you through the steps you need to take.

When you move from any of these benefits or credits, you will not be any worse off at the point where you change to Universal Credit, as long as your circumstances remain the same as before.

What benefits are being replaced by Universal Credit?

The benefits that will be replaced are:

  • the means tested part of Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • the means tested part of Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefit -Rent element only

(For those who get help with their rates bill, the rates element of Housing Benefit will not be included in Universal Credit. Instead, it will be paid through a separate rate rebate scheme. This new scheme is being developed. When it is fully introduced, new claimants and those whose circumstances change, will be assessed separately for rates support).

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

  • the part Jobseeker’s Allowance that is made up from the contributions you have paid
  • the part of Employment and Support Allowance that is made up from the contributions you have paid
  • Child Benefit
  • Pension Credit
  • Carers’ Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

Disability Living Allowance will be replaced by Personal Independence Payment.

Social Fund and Universal Credit

Some of the payments that you can get from the Social Fund now will become part of Universal Credit. These are:

If you need help until your benefit claim has been paid you can ask for what is called a Short Term Advance of benefit instead of what is now called a Crisis Loan.  

Budgeting Loans will stay the same as now but the name will change to Budgeting Advance if you get Universal Credit.  

Find out more about the changes to Social Fund.

How do I get Universal Credit?

It will be much easier and simpler for you to make a claim for Universal Credit. You will be able to do it online at a time that suits you. If you do not have access to a computer there will be other ways for you to make a claim, including a dedicated telephone service where you can get help and support.

How does work change the amount of Universal Credit you can get?

If you start work or increase the number of hours you work, you may not lose all your benefit right away. The amount of Universal Credit you can get will depend on the amount of money you earn.

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