Overview of Discretionary Support

NB this information is only for people living in Northern Ireland

What is Discretionary Support?

Discretionary Support is designed to support people who live in Northern Ireland and who are in need of short-term financial help. Assistance may be available if a person is on a low income and they are in an extreme, exceptional or crisis situation, including as a direct result of Covid-19. For example, emergency replacement of essential household goods such as oven, fridge or carpet etc.

Awards can be made as either an interest-free loan or a non-repayable grant but are dependent on a person’s individual or household circumstances, income and if they already have an amount of government debt.

To be eligible for Discretionary Support your net household income, including income from certain benefits such as Universal Credit or Tax Credits, must not be more than £20,849.40 per year.

More information on Discretionary Support, including the eligibility criteria and how your income is calculated is available at www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/extra-financial-support

Applications for Discretionary Support can be made online at: www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/claim-discretionary-support

Independent Review of Discretionary Support

An independent review has been commissioned by Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey, MLA to establish if Discretionary Support is working for those people who need it, and to identify what could be done to improve it. This will initially be carried out through an online survey to understand the experiences of people who have been through the application and decision-making process, whether successful or not. Respondents will also have the opportunity to speak to the independent review panel, should they choose to do so, to share more information on their experience. It is important to point out that involvement in the independent review is entirely voluntary and will have no bearing any application for Discretionary Support.

For more information on the Independent Review and to complete the survey to help to inform the review panel’s findings go to: www.ulster.ac.uk/discretionarysupportreview

Personalised advice and guidance

We would encourage anyone wishing to find out more about what Discretionary Support or any other financial support they may be entitled to, to contact our Family Benefits Advice Service and one of our skilled advisors will be able to help you. For free, impartial and confidential advice contact the advice helpline on 028 9267 8200 or email hello@employersforchildcare.org