Households asked for their views on Universal Credit
Published: Mon, 16 Jan 2012
Social Development Minister, Nelson McCausland, is inviting over 1,000 households to have their views heard as the introduction of Universal Credit draws closer.
Universal Credit, which will replace the current benefit system, will be introduced next year. It is planned that new claims will be introduced from October 2013.
Minister McCausland said: “Universal Credit will be simpler to claim, easier to understand and more effective and responsive than the old, out-dated system we currently have. But it will also mean a change to how people apply for and receive their benefit and tax credit incomes.
“To ensure that the move to Universal Credit is as seamless as possible in Northern Ireland, we first need to take into account the particular characteristics of households here.
“To this end I have instructed my officials to carry out focus groups and a household survey of 1,000 homes to ensure that we understand the needs, thoughts and opinions of people in Northern Ireland who this will affect.”
Benefits and tax credit customers across Northern Ireland have been randomly selected to take part in this research which will take the form of focus groups and a household survey, running from January to March this year. Participants will be assured that any benefits they are claiming will not be affected by participating in the research.
The findings of this research will be considered in the planning for the introduction of Universal Credit in Northern Ireland.
The research work will look at the proposal to implement Universal Credit and its key components. It will also focus on attitudes to work, using the internet and money management.
Minister McCausland added: “I would encourage all those who are invited to take part in this research to do so.
“Universal Credit will support people both in and out of work. It will replace the complex array of benefits and tax credits that currently exist with just one simple payment. Most importantly however, Universal Credit is the vehicle by which we can ensure our benefits system will remain sustainable for future generations in Northern Ireland and by which we can ensure that being in work will always pay for local people.”
Universal Credit will be available for people both in and out of work and will replace Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and income-related Employment and Support Allowances.
Universal Credit is an integrated working-age credit. It will provide one single household allowance tailored to each customer’s needs, with additional elements for children, disability, housing and caring. Universal Credit will help lift households out of poverty and give people more incentive to work. People will be able to take jobs without losing all their benefit at once, reducing the risk of a gap in earnings.