Universal Credit


Universal Credit is replacing 6 different benefits for working aged people and is being phased into Northern Ireland from September 2017.

Certain benefits in Northern Ireland are changing. Universal Credit is a new benefit to help people on a low income or who are out of work.

It does not affect you if you are state pension age. Only people of working age will have to apply or will be transferred to Universal Credit.

What benefits are being replaced?

Not every benefit is being replaced. Universal Credit will combine 6 existing benefits:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (income-based)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (income-related)
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefit (rent)

If you currently receive any of the above benefits then you will be transferred onto Universal Credit between July 2019 and March 2022.  Universal Credit is paid every 2 weeks although you can also request a monthly payment if you wish. It can take between 5 to 6 weeks for your first payment of Universal Credit. 

For new claims, Universal Credit is being phased in across Northern Ireland from September 2017. Have a look at the table below to find out when Universal Credit is coming to your area.

What benefits are staying the same?

Some benefits will stay as they are. The following benefits are not being brought under Universal Credit:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (contribution-based)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (contribution-based)
  • Child Benefit
  • Pension Credit
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

Who can claim Universal Credit?

In order to claim Universal Credit in Northern Ireland you must:

  • be living in Northern Ireland
  • be 18 years of age or over (some 16 or 17 years may be able to claim based on their circumstances)
  • be under State Pension age
  • not be in full-time education
  • not have savings or capital over £16,000

Universal Credit and mixed aged couples

A mixed aged couple is where one member has reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit and the other is below the age of entitlement. In areas where Universal Credit has not been implemented mixed aged couples can make a claim to Pension Credit if only one member has reached the qualifying age. 

Under Universal Credit rules both members of a couple will need to have reached the qualifying age of Pension Credit to make a claim. If one member of the couple is under the age of entitlement then they will need to make a claim to Universal Credit instead. 

These changes don't affect couples who already claim Pension Credit.

Universal Credit is a digital service

Universal Credit is claimed online.

You will need to maintain your claim online as well.

The Department for Communities will contact you and inform you of the steps you need to take to claim Universal Credit.

Getting Support

You can contact the Independent Welfare Changes helpline on 0808 802 0020 if you need more information about getting help to make or maintain a Universal Credit claim.

When is Universal Credit being introduced?

Universal Credit is being rolled out on a geographical basis from September 2017. Have a look at the table below to find out when it is coming to your area for new claims.



 Jobs & Benefits / Social Security office

27 September 2017


15 November 2017


13 December 2017

Magherafelt and Coleraine

17 January 2018

Strabane and Lisnagelvin

7 February 2018

Foyle and Armagh

21 February 2018

Omagh and Enniskillen

7 March 2018

Dungannon and Portadown

18 April 2018

Banbridge and Lurgan

2 May 2018

Kilkeel, Downpatrick and Newry

16 May 2018

Bangor, Newtownards and Holywood Road

30 May 2018

Knockbreda, Newtownabbey and Shankill

13 June 2018

Corporation Street, Falls and Andersonstown

27 June 2018

Shaftesbury Square, Lisburn and Larne

4 July 2018

Carrickfergus, Antrim and Ballymena

July-September 2018

  Cookstown, Ballynahinch and Newcastle


If you receive any of the benefits that are being replaced by Universal Credit and your circumstances change after Universal Credit has been implemented in your area then you may move onto Universal Credit before your scheduled transfer date. 

Further Information

If you need more information about Universal Credit, you can contact the Independent Welfare Changes helpline on 0808 802 0020 or visit NI Direct