Residents urged to get advice on new benefit

Ursula Toner, Housing Rights Advice Service Manager
Ursula Toner, Housing Rights Advice Service Manager

Charity Housing Rights is warning Dungannon residents about the potential impact Universal Credit could have on their housing situation and urging them to get advice.

This new benefit which was introduced to Dungannon on March 7 will replace Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credits, Child Tax Credit, Income Support, Income based Job Seekers Allowance and income related Employment and Support Allowance. Anyone of working age who gets these benefits will be affected.

Ursula Toner, Advice Manager with Housing Rights said: “From March 7 Dungannon residents claiming any of the above benefits for the first time will have to make a new online application for Universal Credit. They could then face a wait of five to six and a half weeks before they get their first payment. There could also be significant challenges for households who move from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit, due to a change in circumstances. This could result in people getting behind with their housing payments, potentially putting their homes at risk.”

Dungannon is the latest area in Northern Ireland to have Universal Credit introduced. It will be rolled out gradually across the rest of NI between September and 2022.

Ms Toner added: “Universal Credit and how it is processed is very different from Housing Benefit. I would urge anyone who is worried about how Universal Credit might affect their housing situation to get in touch. Housing Rights runs a free housing helpline just call 90 245640 and pick option 3 to chat to an adviser.” Housing Rights also has online information at www.housingadviceni.org