Universal Credit arrive in North Belfast

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Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a payment for people over 18 but under State Pension age who are on a low income or out of work. It includes support for the cost of housing, children and childcare, and financial support for people with disabilities, carers and people too ill to work.

When did Universal Credit commence in North Belfast

New Claims – Universal Credit was introduced in North Belfast on 14th November 2018 for new claimants.

About Universal Credit

Universal Credit was designed to make sure you are better off in work than on benefits and to give you the support you need to prepare for work, start work or earn more money. There’s no limit to the number of hours you can work in a week if you get Universal Credit.

Your benefit will not suddenly be removed if you start work. Your payment will reduce gradually as you earn more. This allows you to take temporary or seasonal jobs without making a new claim or having gaps between paydays as you move in and out of work.

When receiving Universal Credit, it is your responsibility to do everything you can to find work or increase your earnings.

Benefits being replaced by Universal Credit

Universal Credit will replace:

• Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
• Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
• Income Support
• Working Tax Credit
• Child Tax Credit
• Housing Benefit

People already receiving a benefit being replaced by Universal Credit

Anyone changing address or moving into one of our homes from the above date will face a change in their circumstances and therefore must apply for Universal Credits if they are already in receipt of one or more of the above benefits.

As it is now introduced in the North Belfast area, you will no longer be able to make a new claim for the benefits being replaced and you will need to claim Universal Credit instead.

If your circumstances have changed since 14th November 2018 and you are a Newington Housing tenant, please contact a member of our Housing Management Team immediately on 028 9074 4055.

A member of our team will provide you with general advice and can signpost/make a referral for you to relevant agencies or community organisations, who will provide you with more professional advice, guidance and support and assist you through the transition process.

If your circumstances do not change, you will move to Universal Credit between July 2019 and March 2023. The Department for Communities will contact you when it is time to move to Universal Credit.

Housing Benefit

You must report any change in your circumstances that could affect your claim as soon as possible by contacting us and the Private Sector Housing Benefit Unit within the Housing Executive..

If you already receive Housing Benefit and you do not have a change in your circumstances, the Housing Executive and the Department for Communities will contact you when it’s time to move onto Universal Credit.

You do not need to do anything further now unless your circumstances change.

Help with Rates

Your Universal Credit payment will not include money towards your rates.

A new Rate Rebate Scheme will replace Housing Benefit for rates for tenants who claim Universal Credit. If you are a Newington Housing tenant and think you may be eligible to claim a Rate Rebate, please contact us immediately on 028 9074 4055 and a member of staff will assist you with the application process.

Getting ready for Universal Credit

You can start to prepare for Universal Credit by:

• setting up a bank or building society account if you don’t already have one
• setting up an email address
• familiarising yourself with using the Internet
• checking how much rent you pay (including any service charges)
• making sure you have the documents you need to verify your identity – this may include your passport, driving license or a household bill


To get Universal Credit in Northern Ireland you must:

• live in an area where Universal Credit has been introduced for new claims
• be aged 18 or over (16 or 17 in certain circumstances – see below)
• be under State Pension age
• not be in full time education or training (unless exemptions apply – see below)
• not have savings over £16,000

You’ll get less Universal Credit if you have savings over £6,000 or earn enough money to cover your basic living costs.

If you’re aged 16 or 17

You can get Universal Credit if you:

• have limited capability for work or you have medical evidence and are waiting for a Work Capability Assessment
• are caring for a severely disabled person
• are responsible for a child
• are in a couple with responsibility for at least one child and your partner is eligible for Universal Credit
• are pregnant and it’s 11 weeks or less before your expected week of childbirth
• had a child in the last 15 weeks
• don’t have parental support, for example, you don’t have parents and you’re not under local authority care

Exemptions if you’re in training or studying full time

You can get Universal Credit if any of the following apply. You’re:

• in a couple and your partner is eligible for Universal Credit
• responsible for a child, either as a single person or as a couple, if both of you are students
• disabled and entitled to Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment and have limited capability for work
• in ‘non-advanced education’ (for example, studying for A levels or a BTEC National Diploma), are 21 or under and don’t have parental support

Other help

If you would like independent help and advice on Universal Credit or any of the other welfare changes, you can visit any independent advice office or contact:
• Welfare Changes Helpline
• Housing Rights
• Debt Advice (Citizens Advice)

A Universal Credit guide is also available.
• Universal Credit & You

Help to Save scheme

If you are working and claiming Universal Credit, you may be eligible for the Help to Save scheme. The scheme allows you to build savings for up to four years and receive tax-free bonuses.

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