Universal credit in Northern Ireland: some provisional findings

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


The introduction of universal credit comes at the outset of a new era for the UK welfare state as devolved administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland take tentative steps towards a different approach to social security compared to England and Wales. Northern Ireland has seen years of controversy around the suitability of much of the post-2010 coalition and Conservative governments’ welfare reform agenda to an economically weak part of the UK. In a slight break with the normal practice of maintaining parity with Great Britain in social security, a number of Northern Ireland-specific approaches to the administration of UC will operate. Claimants will receive their benefit payment on a fortnightly basis and the housing costs element will be paid directly to landlords by default; joint-claim couples with separate bank accounts can request either a single or split payment. A range of time-limited supplementary payments have also been put in place, which will protect some claimant groups from financial loss for a fixed period of one year or on an ongoing basis until March 2020, depending on the benefit affected. This paper reports emerging findings from an ongoing participatory research project involving UC claimants in Belfast, which will be at its midpoint in July 2019. The study will capture claimant perspectives on whether the new benefit achieves its own objectives, such as simplification and incentivising employment, and whether it enables them to achieve their own objectives in life. It will also explore the impact of the mitigation measures that operate in Northern Ireland and consider the implications of their termination. In the next phase of the project, the research team will work in partnership with the participants to develop policy recommendations on UC grounded in experiences on the benefit.
Period9 Jul 2019
Event titleSocial Policy Association annual conference
Event typeConference
LocationDurham, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • universal credit
  • northern ireland
  • social security
  • welfare state
  • social citizenship
  • social rights