Northern Ireland reaches deal on universal credit

The Northern Ireland Executive has announced it has reached agreement with the UK government over variations in the way the new universal credit will operate in the province. It says the deal reflects Northern Ireland’s 'unique circumstances' – although it addresses areas of concern widely raised by experts and campaign groups elsewhere.
Key points
The housing cost element of universal credit will be paid direct to landlords rather than tenants.
Payment of universal credit 'may' be split between two parties in a household, rather than all of it going to one person.
Payment of universal credit 'may' be made twice each month, rather than monthly.
As a result, the universal credit scheme will be launched in Northern Ireland in April 2014, rather than October 2013 as in the rest of the UK. This will allow alternative administrative arrangements to be put in place.
There will be further consultation with 'representative groups and stakeholders' to develop criteria/guidance for when it is appropriate to apply split and twice-monthly payments.
Source: Press release 22 October 2012, Northern Ireland Executive
Links: NIE press release | NIHE press release | BBC report | Inside Housing report