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New benefits system to be rolled out in parts of Belfast from today

Universal Credit is to be introduced to parts of Belfast from today

A NEW benefits system will be rolled out in parts of Belfast from today.

Universal Credit, which replaces six existing benefits, will be available for new claimants in the Falls and Shankill areas of the city and will begin in the Andersonstown area from June 27.

The Universal Credit is a single monthly payment for people of working age. People already claiming these existing benefits will not be affected until July 2019 at the earliest, unless their circumstances change.

Universal Credit will also begin in Banbridge on June 27 with the roll-out set to continue from September, reaching the remaining areas of Belfast as well as Ballynahinch, Newtownabbey, Newtownards, Carrickfergus, Bangor, Lisburn, Larne, Cookstown, Ballymena and Antrim.

David Sales, Universal Credit programme director from the Department for Communities, said: "The phased roll-out began in September 2017 and is already operational in 17 areas across Northern Ireland.

"This means we have been able to closely manage and learn from the rollout to date. So far in the areas that Universal Credit has been introduced there has been over 9,000 claims made.

"Advance payments are offered to all claimants, and to date 50 per cent have accepted one.

"Our work coaches are actively working to support each of these claimants to enter employment, earn more or prepare for work in the future."

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