‘Move to UC’ to begin next month

Date published: 26 September 2023

The final phase of Universal Credit (UC) implementation across Northern Ireland will begin next month for those in receipt of tax credits and no other benefits.

Move to UC to begin next month text on plain background

The ‘Move to UC’ will start on October 16 when Migration Notice letters will begin to issue to all Working Tax Credits and/or Child Tax Credits recipients who receive no other benefit.

Universal Credit has been in place here since September 2017, replacing all new claims to Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment & Support Allowance, Housing Benefit (rental) and tax credits.

The final stage of the ‘Move to UC’ involves moving those who are still in receipt of the benefits and tax credits being replaced by Universal Credit. 

Deputy Secretary of Work and Health at the Department for Communities, Paddy Rooney said,

“We are approaching the final implementation stage of UC with the utmost care to ensure that the proper supports are in place for everyone.

“The Department has been working closely with our stakeholders and the advice sector. We have recently completed a discovery exercise in both an urban and rural area to understand the impacts on those receiving a migration letter and the help, support and advice they need to make their UC claim. We have adapted our approach for those moving from Tax Credits onto UC as a result of what we have learnt.

“We will continue to closely monitor the impact of implementation and ensure that all of the necessary support is available throughout the ‘Move to UC’ process.”

Migration Notice letters will be issued from the Department explaining what people need to do and will include signposting to help for those who need it.

The Migration Notice will inform people that they need to make their claim to UC within three months from the date of their letter and that their tax credits will end if they decide not to make a claim.

Anyone making a claim to UC following receipt of a Migration Notice letter will have their benefit entitlement protected through Transitional Protection. This means that people with no change in their circumstances will not have a reduced entitlement at the point they move to UC.

Those entitled to UC will receive their first payment approximately five weeks after submitting a claim and will receive payments twice a month thereafter.

Deputy Secretary Paddy Rooney continued,

“Anyone entitled to UC may be able to claim extra financial support to help with essential costs while waiting on their first payment, including a Universal Credit Contingency Fund grant payment or an advance loan.

“Support will be available via a dedicated telephony team; information will be available online at nidirect and support will also be available at Jobs and Benefits offices. This information will be included in the Migration Notice letter.

“We are absolutely committed to supporting everyone through their transition from legacy benefits to UC.”

Existing Working Tax Credits and/or Child Tax Credits recipients who receive no other benefit do not need to do anything unless they receive a Migration Notice letter from DfC. Anyone moving to UC ahead of receiving their Migration Notice letter will not be eligible to receive transitional protection.

All Working Tax Credits and/or Child Tax Credits recipients are asked to ensure that their contact details are up-to-date. This will ensure that they can be contacted and receive important updates throughout their scheduled migration.

The Move to UC Delivery Team can be contacted on Freephone 0800 012 1331, Textphone 0800 012 1441 (for deaf users, those with hearing loss and users with speech and communication needs) and a UC Video Relay Service is available for sign language users. Information will also be available online at nidirect and through local Jobs & Benefits offices. 

Notes to editors: 

  1. Based on February 2023 data there are 71k households in receipt of an eligible benefit which will be replaced by Universal Credit during the current Move to UC, including 34k households in receipt of tax credits only.
  2. Universal Credit is a working age payment for people over 18 but under State Pension age who are on a low income or out of work. It includes support for the cost of housing, children and childcare, and financial support for people with disabilities, carers and people too ill to work.
  3. UC is being implemented here in line with the policy agreed by the Northern Ireland Executive.
  4. In November 2022, as part of his autumn statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt announced that the managed migration of claimants on Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance, except for those receiving Child Tax Credit, will now take place in 2028 rather than the original rollout date of 2024. Those impacted by that decision include: People in receipt of Income-Related ESA only; and People in receipt of Income-Related ESA and Housing Benefit
  5. DfC will align with DWP and aim to complete migration of the remaining benefits listed below by March 2025
  • Working and Child Tax Credits (including people in receipt of Tax Credits and ESA)
  • Job Seekers Allowance (Income-Related)
  • Income Support (Income-Related)
  • Housing Benefit (Income-Related)

Share this page

Back to top