Universal credit: Northern Ireland

This page explains the roll-out of Universal Credit (UC) in Northern Ireland.

Welfare Reform in Northern Ireland has faced a number of difficulties and due to the many delays in getting the primary legislation in place, UC rolled out on a different timetable to the rest of Great Britain. UC full service roll-out is now complete in Northern Ireland (as well as the rest of the UK).

You can find all of the legislation in our Northern Ireland legislation section.

Roll-out timetable

UC started to roll out in Northern Ireland from September 2017 and the roll-out completed in December 2018.

The roll-out schedule between September 2017 and December 2018 is shown in this pdf.

Who can claim UC in Northern Ireland?

The Department of Finance Rate Rebate Scheme provides rates support for tenants or home owners who are entitled to UC in Northern Ireland.

The rules for who can claim UC in Northern Ireland are the same as in Great Britain - see our 'current eligibility to claim' page.

Existing tax credit claimants

Claimants who live in Northern Ireland and who already claim tax credits or any of the other legacy benefits will be transferred to UC between July 2019 and 2024 in line with the national plans.

See our 'existing tax credits claimants' section which explains what happens to existing tax credit claimants who have changes of circumstances and plans for managed migration.

Changes to UC in Northern Ireland

There are some flexibilities that are available to NI claimants:

Additional support

In addition to advance payments of UC (which need to be repaid at a later date) NI UC claimants may be able to get extra financial support.

The Financial Support Service supports people who are in need of short term financial assistance.

This short term financial assistance is available from the Finance Support Service as a:

More information can be found on the NI Direct website.

Welfare Changes Helpline

An independent helpline is available for anyone in Northern Ireland who wants help or advice about any of the changes to the welfare system. The helpline is operated Advice NI and Law Centre NI.

Additional independent advisers will also be available across all 11 council areas in Northern Ireland and located in local Advice NI offices to provide face-to-face help to anyone impacted by the changes to the welfare system. In addition, specialist legal advice is available from the Law Centre and they can arrange access to specialist services when required.

These services are free for anyone who needs help or advice about any of the changes to the welfare system.

Last reviewed/updated 18 May 2023