Roll-out of Universal Credit in two weeks will mean ‘major changes’ for welfare claimants in Derry

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A senior civil servant at the Department for Communities says the roll-out of the controversial new Universal Credit (UC) welfare system in Derry in a fortnight’s time will mean “significant change” for claimants.

Under the benefits shake-up new applicants living in the Waterside will be required to claim UC from Wednesday, January 17, while the system goes live on the Cityside three weeks later on February 7.

Dr. Denis McMahon, Deputy Secretary of DfC’s Work and Inclusion Group, said: “It is a significant change to the way the benefit system works in Northern Ireland, and we are using a phased roll-out to give the best possible support to claimants as they get used to the new system.”

UC replaces Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credits. Existing claimants will transfer to Universal Credit between July 2019 and March 2022.

Dr. McMahon said: “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 Lisnagelvin and Foyle Jobs & Benefits Offices 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.”