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Universal Credit roll out

Universal Credit roll out

What is the Universal Credit roll out?

Universal Credit is gradually being rolled out across the UK in stages.

If you are making a new claim for benefits, or are already claiming benefits and have a change in your circumstances, you may have to claim Universal Credit at some point before September 2018.

Whether you will be asked to apply for Universal Credit or existing benefits will depend on your circumstances and whether you live in a live or full service area. Full service areas allow Universal Credit claims from almost everyone but live service areas still have some 'gateway conditions' which must be met in order to make a claim. The whole of the UK is expected to be full service by September 2018.

Once the full service roll out for new claims is complete, existing benefit claimants who have not had a change in circumstances, will be moved over to Universal Credit at some point between July 2019 and March 2022.

You can read the general information relevant to your situation below or find out exactly when you could be affected personally by putting your postcode into our Universal Credit postcode checker.

Are you single, without children and looking for work?

Most new benefit claims from single unemployed people who do not have children will now be for Universal Credit, no matter where you live, because all live and full service areas accept Universal Credit claims from this group.

Live service areas

If you live in a live service area, although the majority of new claims will be for Universal Credit, there are still some conditions that must be met. For example you must not already be claiming Jobseeker's Allowance. See the full list of gateway conditions on the revenue benefits website.

These live service areas will eventually convert to being full service areas, as explained below.

Full service areas

If you live in a full service area and make a new benefit claim it will be a claim for Universal Credit as no conditions apply in full service areas and new claims cannot be made for existing benefits such as Jobseeker's Allowance and Housing Benefit.

Find out when you could be affected personally by using our Universal Credit postcode checker.

Are you single and not looking for work, in a couple or have children?

Universal Credit is still being rolled out to these groups for people making a new benefit claim so whether you will be asked to apply for Universal Credit or existing benefits will depend on your circumstances and where you live.

Live Service Areas

In most live service areas, if you are not looking for work or live with a partner or children you will not have to claim Universal Credit.

However, there are a small number of live service areas that do already allow Universal Credit claims from people who live with their partner or have children as long as they are fit for work and meet a range of other conditions. See the full list of gateway conditions on the revenue benefits website

These live service areas will eventually convert to being full service areas, as explained below.

Full Service Areas

In full service areas most people making a new benefit claim will be invited to claim Universal Credit instead of existing benefits and you can no longer make a new claim for tax credits, Housing Benefit or out-of-work benefits like Income Support.

Families with three or more children making a new benefit claim are an exception to this rule. They can continue to make new claims for existing benefits and tax credits until at least November 2018.

Find out when you could be affected personally by using our Universal Credit postcode checker.

Are you already claiming benefits?

Existing benefits and tax credits claimants who do not have a change of circumstance (see below) will not be asked to claim Universal Credit until July 2019 at the earliest. The government expects to finish moving existing benefit and tax credit claimants onto Universal Credit by March 2022.

What counts as a change of circumstance?

There's no published list of what counts as a change of circumstance to trigger a move from one of the existing benefits to Universal Credit but below is a guide of the changes likely to be included:

  • If your entitlement to the current benefit ends prompting a need to claim a new one, for example if you stop being entitled to Working Tax Credit because you lose your job (or regularly reduce your hours below the minimum number of hours you must work) or you stop being entitled to income-based Jobseekers' Allowance because you start working more than 16 hours a week.
  • If you become entitled to a different or extra benefit, for example you are claiming income-based Jobseeker's Allowance and have a child so you would have become eligible for Child Tax Credit, or you separate from a partner and would have become eligible for help with your rent through Housing Benefit.
  • If you have a change in your relationship, for example if you move in with somebody already claiming Universal Credit you will claim Universal Credit together.

It is not currently clear if moving house counts as a change of circumstances but it may be the case that moving within the same local authority doesn't count as a change but moving to a new authority does. We will update this guide when this has been confirmed.

There are also a few changes that are unlikely to count as a change of circumstance, which will generally be changes to benefits you are already claiming. For example, you are already getting Child Tax Credit and you have another child, you are already getting Working Tax Credit and you change jobs (as long as you still meet the hours rules) or you are already getting Housing Benefit and your rent increases.

In many cases you are obliged to report a change of circumstances. If you are in any doubt as to whether a change in your circumstances means you will have to claim Universal Credit see if a local advice agency is able to help you or contact the relevant benefits team to ask.

When will the roll out affect Northern Ireland?

In Northern Ireland the Universal Credit roll out will begin in September 2017 and be completed by September 2018.

  • 27 September 2017 - Limavady
  • 15 November 2017 - Ballymoney
  • 13 December 2017 - Magherafelt and Coleraine
  • 17 January 2018 - Strabane and Lisnagelvin
  • 7 February 2018 - Foyle and Armagh
  • 21 February 2018 - Omagh and Enniskillen
  • 7 March 2018 - Dungannon and Portadown
  • 18 April 2018 - Banbridge and Lurgan
  • 2 May 2018 - Kilkeel, Downpatrick and Newry
  • 16 May 2018 - Bangor, Newtownards and Holywood Road
  • 30 May 2018 - Knockbreda, Newtownabbey and Shankill
  • 13 June 2018 - Corporation Street, Falls and Andersonstown
  • 27 June 2018 - Shaftesbury Square, Lisburn and Larne
  • 4 July 2018 - Carrickfergus, Antrim and Ballymena
  • July to September 2018 - Cookstown, Ballynahinch and Newcastle

For more general information about Universal Credit please see our Universal Credit guide.

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