Universal Credit is a new 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.
The roll out of Universal Credit in Northern Ireland, on a phased geographical basis, began in September 2017.
Universal Credit replaces:
- Jobseeker's Allowance (income based)
- Employment Support Allowance (income related)
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
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.
Universal Credit is intoduced for new claims, on a phased geographical basis, by Jobs & Benefits office/Social Security Office between September 2017 and December 2018.
The planned schedule is as follows:
|13/12/2017||Magherafelt and Coleraine|
|17/01/2018||Strabane and Lisnagelvin|
|07/02/2018||Foyle and Armagh|
|21/02/2018||Omagh and Enniskillen|
|07/03/2018||Dungannon and Portadown|
|16/05/2018||Newry and Downpatrick|
|30/05/2018||Lurgan, Newcastle and Kilkeel|
|13/06/2018||Falls and Shankill|
|27/06/2018||Andersonstown and Banbridge|
|05/09/2018||Holywood Road and Ballynahinch|
|19/09/2018||Newtownabbey and Newtownards|
|03/10/2018||Shaftesbury Square and Carrickfergus|
|17/10/2018||Knockbreda and Bangor|
|31/10/2018||Lisburn and Larne|
|14/11/2018||North Belfast and Cookstown|
|05/12/2018||Ballymena and Antrim|
People who receive any of the six benefits being replaced by Universal Credit will be transferred to Universal Credit between July 2019 and March 2023.
If a claimant receives one of the existing benefits that will be replaced and they live in a Universal Credit area but their circumstances change, they may move to Universal Credit from September 2017.
Additional information on Universal Credit
- Universal Credit employer guidance (PDF, 93K)
- Universal Credit for employers: how it helps your business (DOC, 15K)
- How Universal Credit can help your business (PDF, 48K)
- Universal Credit: how it helps your employees and workers (DOC, 16K)
- Universal Credit and employers: frequently asked questions (DOC, 19K)
- Universal Credit for HR and payroll staff (DOC, 15K)
- Universal Credit: help for recruiters (DOC, 16K)
- Universal Credit guidance for citizens