The UK Government has introduced the biggest changes to the welfare and benefits system in over 60 years. These changes will directly impact on people on low income and those who are in receipt of welfare benefits, including anyone claiming Housing Benefit.
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Welfare reform has seen the introduction of Universal Credit which is a new single benefit payment for working-age people between 18 and 64 years who may be on a low income or out of work. It replaced six existing benefit and tax credits and includes support for the cost of housing, children and childcare, as well as financial support for disabled people, carers and people who are too ill to work. Universal Credit was rolled out across Northern Ireland beginning in Limavady from 27th September 2017.
|Date Universial Credit will Start||Jobs & Benefits/Social Security Office|
|27 September 2017||Limavady|
|15 November 2017||Ballymoney|
|13 December 2017||Magherafelt & Coleraine|
|17 January 2018||Strabane & Lisnagelvin|
|7 February 2018||Foyle & Armagh|
|21 February 2018||Omagh & Enniskillen|
|7 March 2018||Dungannon & Portadown|
|16 May 2018||Newry & Downpatrick|
|30 May 2018||Lurgan, Newcastle & Kilkeel|
|13 June 2018||Falls & Shankill|
|27 June 2018||Andersontown & Banbridge|
|5 September 2018||Holywood Road & Ballynahinch|
|19 September 2018||Newtownabbey & Newtownards|
|3 October 2018||Shaftesbury Square & Carrickfergus|
|17 October 2018||Knockbreda & Bangor|
|31 October 2018||Lisburn & Larne|
|14 November 2018||North Belfast & Cookstown|
|5 December 2018||Ballymena & Antrim|
Universal Credit will take up to six weeks after a UC claim has been made for the first payment to reach the claimant’s account. Payments are made to the claimant twice monthly by default with the option of monthly payments on request. Under exceptional circumstances if the claimant has specific issues such as alcohol or drug dependency, a more frequent payment can be arranged. The housing element will be paid directly to Radius Housing every 28 days. Help with rates will no longer be available under Universal Credit and this will have to be applied for separately via Land and Property Services. This will be called Rates Rebate.
Universal Credit is a digital service. This means that the benefit application and all subsequent communications relating to the claim will be carried out online. Claimants will not receive letters or emails about their claim they will have a responsibility to regularly log into their online Universal Credit account to access any communications about their claim.
A very helpful step – by – step guidance to the online application process can be found by watching the video below.