Guide

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a payment for working-age people who are on a low income or are out of work. To get Universal Credit, a person must be aged 18 or over and be under State Pension age. It will be paid twice a month 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 sick to work.

Universal Credit replaces:

  • Jobseeker's Allowance (income based)
  • Employment Support Allowance (income related)
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit

When Universal Credit starts

Universal Credit was introduced for new claims in Northern Ireland between 27 September 2017 and December 2018. 

People claiming any of the six benefits that Universal Credit replaced, who have a change of circumstances, may move to Universal Credit from the date of the change of circumstances.

People claiming any of the six benefits that Universal Credit replaced, who do not have a change of circumstances will move to Universal Credit between 2020 and 2023. The Department for Communities will advise claimants what they need to do when it is time for them to move to Universal Credit.

Impact on employers

You may find that some of your existing employees will start to receive Universal Credit or you may recruit someone who is receiving it.

Universal Credit is designed to deal with changes in earnings, allowing claimants to receive it when they are both in and out of work. This means that payments will not end when earnings increase, rather they will gradually decrease until wages reach a point that allows the claimant to leave Universal Credit.

Benefits of Universal Credit for employers

As an employer, you will find that Universal Credit:

  • makes it easier to fill any job by enabling unemployed people to consider short term or irregular work
  • allows existing staff to work different patterns to meet the peaks and troughs without the overheads associated with recruiting and training new staff
  • removes the ‘16 hour’ rule allowing staff to increase their hours leading to better productivity
  • enables recruitment from a wider pool of applicants

This provides potential employees with the opportunity to take temporary or seasonal jobs without worrying about making a brand new claim or any gaps between paydays as they move in and out of work.

Download details on how Universal Credit can help your business (PDF, 49K).

Additional information on Universal Credit