Skip to content

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.

To date, this has not been introduced in Northern Ireland. This information is provided for information purposes only.

Universal Credit for those making a new claim is expected to be introduced across Northern Ireland from early 2017.

This information is provided for planning purposes only.

How will it affect me?

Once introduced in Northern Ireland, 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 office that pays your benefits 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 stay the same as before.

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 - 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:

  • 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 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.

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

If you start work or increase the number of hours you work under Universal Credit, you will be able to earn a certain amount before your Universal Credit payment is reduced.  This is known as your Work Allowance. Once you earn more than your Work Allowance, your Universal Credit payments will gradually reduce.

This allows you to take temporary or seasonal jobs without worrying about making a brand new claim or any gaps between paydays as you move in and out of work. The amount of Universal Credit you can get will depend on the amount of money you earn.

More useful links