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03/01/2018

Universal Credit To Be Rolled Out In Strabane And L'Derry

Universal Credit is to be rolled out in Strabane and Londonderry/Derry, the Department for Communities has announced.

Universal Credit replaces six existing benefits with one. It is for people aged 18 to State Pension age and aims to remove many of the barriers to work which exist in the current welfare system.

It is being introduced gradually across Northern Ireland in the period from September 2017 to September 2018, with Strabane and Lisnagelvin the latest areas in the rollout timetable.

New claimants will be the first to claim Universal Credit. People in these areas already claiming the existing benefits will not be affected until 2019, unless their circumstances changes.

The new payment will support claimants in being able to start and progress in work and earn more without losing their benefits, while ensuring those who cannot work continue to receive the financial support they need. It includes support for the cost of housing, children and childcare, as well as particular help for parents, who will be able to claim back up to 85% of their registered childcare costs each month.
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Denis McMahon, Deputy Secretary of Work and Inclusion Group, DfC, explained: "The rollout of Universal Credit is another stage of the Department's work to implement the NI Executive's decisions on welfare changes. It is a significant change to the way the benefit system works in Northern Ireland, and we are using a phased rollout to give the best possible support to claimants as they get used to the new system."

Explaining how the new system will work, Dr McMahon continued: "Instead of individuals having to fill in multiple forms and manage several claims, they can claim the single benefit of Universal Credit online. This simplifies the process, with digital support available for those who need it. People can claim using a PC, tablet or mobile phone. The local Strabane Jobs & Benefits Office will have a Digital Zone with PCs and free Wifi which claimants can use to access their online account, with staff available to provide help and support." 

Universal Credit replaces Jobseeker's Allowance (income based), Employment Support Allowance (income-related), Income Support, Housing Benefit (rental), Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credits for people aged over 18 and under State Pension age. 

Existing claimants will transfer to Universal Credit between July 2019 and March 2022. Some claimants will naturally move to Universal Credit earlier, where their circumstances have changed.

As Universal Credit is rolled out claimants can discuss their personal circumstances by calling into their local Jobs & Benefits Office.

(MH/LM)

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