Everyone in Northern Ireland will get paid twice a month automatically. You can opt out and change this to one payment a month if you wish.

Your housing payments will go straight to the landlord like in Scotland. If you want, you choose to receive it yourself and then pay your landlord.

Universal Credit is being rolled out across Northern Ireland in stages. NI Direct has a helpful table to show you when your area will start switching over to Universal Credit:

https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/universal-credit#toc-6

If you currently get benefits, you don’t need to do anything. The Department for Communities will get in touch with you when they’re ready for you to switch over. All benefits will change over by March 2022.

Universal Credit will not help you pay your rates but you are eligible to apply to the new ‘Rate Rebate’ scheme. You can get more information about this by contacting your local jobcentre.

Financial support while waiting for your first Universal Credit payment

If you are struggling to wait for your first payment, help is available:

Budgeting Support

Your work coach can provide you with free sessions and training on how to budget your money.

Discretionary support payment

A discretionary support payment is like the budgeting advance in the rest of Britain.

To be eligible for a discretionary support payment, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age, or 16 and above with no parental support
  • Have not received a discretionary support payment in the last twelve months
  • Have an income less than £15,600 each year (including Universal Credit payments)
  • Be a full-time resident in Northern Ireland
  • You must be facing a serious crisis or risk, which puts you or your family’s safety and wellbeing in danger
  • The crisis must have happened in Northern Ireland
  • You owe the Department for Communities more than £1,000 from previous financial loans

If you think you need a discretionary support payment you should call the helpline. A financial support adviser will assess your claim. If they refuse it, you have 28 days to make an appeal. You can do this with the Discretionary Support Commissioner, who is independent.

Telephone: 0800 587 2750

Textphone: 0800 587 2751

Calls are free and lines are open Monday-Friday 8am-6pm.