Before you start
Make sure you are in an area where Universal Credit has been introduced.
You will need the following information to hand:
- your postcode
- an email address
- details of the bank or building society you want Universal Credit paid into
- details of your housing costs (rent)
- if applicable, your landlord’s details
- details of your savings or other capital
- details of any income that’s not from work, for example, from an insurance plan
- details of any other benefits you’re getting
- details of people who live in your home, for example, your partners and children
When making your claim you will be set tasks called ‘to-dos’ that will tell you exactly what steps you need to take.
Important information when creating your account
If you are a householder and live in rented accommodation owned by a private landlord, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive or a Housing Association, you will be asked a number of questions:
- ‘Do you pay rent, own your own home or get Housing Benefit?’
You should answer ‘Yes’
- ‘What is your current housing situation?’
If your landlord is the Northern Ireland Housing Executive or a Housing Association, you should select the ‘Rent from council or housing association’ option
- ‘How much rent do you pay?’
You should enter only the amount you pay for rent. Do not include any rates paid or any service charges. Details of service charges you pay will be asked for separately
The Housing Element of your Universal Credit will be paid directly to your Landlord, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, or your Housing Association. If your calculated Housing Element does not cover the full amount of your rent, you will need to pay the rest yourself.
If your Universal Credit payment is less than your Housing Element because of deductions, then the whole of your Universal Credit payment will be paid directly to your Landlord, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive or your Housing Association.
You may be able to opt out of the direct payment arrangement and pay your rent yourself if you meet certain criteria. The Department for Communities can discuss this with you once you make your claim.
The Housing Element of your Universal Credit award will not include any allowance for rates. If you are liable for rates and are entitled to Universal Credit, you may be eligible for help with them. For more information, visit the Rate Rebate Scheme.
Local authority and councils
You will see references to local authority and councils. In Northern Ireland this means the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Housing Association or Health and Social Care Trusts.
You will see references to civil penalties. These do not currently apply in Northern Ireland.
If you don't meet the conditions of entitlement for Universal Credit, you may be sanctioned for up to 18 months.
You may be prosecuted or face a financial penalty if you give false information.
After you claim
When you put in your claim, you may be asked to provide evidence confirming information you’ve given, such as bank statements. This evidence should be provided within one calendar month. If the information doesn’t match, your claim will be reviewed using the new information you have provided.
You’ll need to book an appointment via the Universal Credit Service Centre to agree your Commitment. You'll be advised how to book this once you have set up your online account.
You will use your online account to communicate with your Work Coach and report any changes in your circumstances.
Your Universal Credit entitlement will be calculated monthly and, if entitled, you will be paid twice a month. This means your first payment will be for 50 per cent of your monthly entitlement with the rest following a couple of weeks later.
If you would like to receive your Universal Credit in one monthly payment, the Department for Communities can discuss this with you once you have made your claim.
An advance of your Universal Credit payment may be available once your identity has been verified. To apply for an advance, contact the Universal Credit Service Centre (the number will be available through your online account) or speak to your work coach.
The Department for Communities may use and share the information which it obtains now, or may get in the future, with partner organisations to help decide whether you are entitled to:
- the benefit you are claiming
- any other benefit you have claimed
- any other benefit you may claim or be awarded in the future
The information may also be shared to prevent and detect fraud.
How to apply
Use the link below to apply for Universal Credit.