Universal Credit will start in NI in September

By John Campbell
BBC News NI Economics & Business Editor

image sourcePA
image captionSome families are expected to be better off under Universal Credit

The Universal Credit (UC) benefit will start being paid in Northern Ireland from September 2017, with full implementation due September 2018.

UC replaces tax credits, jobseeker's allowance, income support, employment support allowance and housing benefit.

The introduction of the new benefit elsewhere in the UK has been beset by a series of delays.

Communities Minister Paul Givan said the roll-out target was "challenging but achievable".

About 300,000 households in Northern Ireland will be impacted by the change.

The first jobs and benefits office to deliver UC will be Limavady followed by Magherafelt, Coleraine and Ballymoney before Christmas 2017.

The most recent analysis by the Department of Communities estimates that 126,000 households will be on average £39 worse off per week with UC, while 114,000 households will gain on average £26 per week.

A further 72,000 households will have no change to their entitlement.

However, there is a commitment that no-one will experience a reduction in the benefit they are receiving as a result of the introduction of UC, where their circumstances remain the same.

Other mitigating measures were also proposed by an expert group which advised the Northern Ireland Executive on welfare reform.

UC roll-out across the UK was originally scheduled to be completed in 2017 but has been beset by IT delays and spiralling costs.

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