Welfare Changes in Northern Ireland
You will have received a copy of the Government’s ‘Welfare Changes’ booklet in the post. This booklet explains all of the forthcoming changes to the welfare system you need to be aware of – it is particularly important that you take time to read the information if you are currently receiving any form of benefit or Tax Credits.
In 2013 the Government began a series of welfare changes, representing the biggest overhaul of the welfare system to date. However due to political disagreements in Northern Ireland welfare changes are only being introduced here now, with some slight local differences. For more information on how Northern Ireland’s welfare changes will differ to those being implemented in the rest of the UK see here.
What are the Welfare Changes?
The Welfare Changes booklet you have received in the post from the Northern Ireland Executive explains all of the forthcoming changes. You can access an online version and further information here.
Here is an at-a-glance summary of the welfare changes:
- Personal Independence Payments (PIP) will replace Disability Living Allowance. New claims for PIP will commence on 20 June 2016.A Benefit Cap will be implemented, limiting
- A Benefit Cap will be implemented, limiting the amount of benefits a household can receive to £26,000. The Cap will come into effect on the 31 May 2016. It is likely to decrease further in the future.Universal Credit will be introduced next year. It will replace six currently means-tested benefits for adults of working age and children. This includes Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support and parts of the Social Fund.
- Universal Credit will be introduced next year. It will replace six currently means-tested benefits for adults of working age and children. This includes Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support and parts of the Social Fund.If you are claiming
- If you are claiming contribution based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and are in the Work Related Group, your claim will be limited to 12 months. Changes will come into effect on 31 October 2016.
- Housing Benefit will be affected by the introduction of new criteria, called the Social Sector Size criteria (commonly known as Bedroom Tax). The Executive has stated that households will not be affected by bedroom tax, how this will be alleviated is still being agreed. The legal powers that underpin Bedroom Tax will be introduced in September 2016.
- Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans through the Social Fund will stop and will be replaced with new types of support.
- Disputing a Social Security Benefit Decision –you can no longer lodge an appeal without going through a review process. This change begins on 23 May 2016.
- Sanctions – If you fail to comply with benefit rules a sanction, which stops your benefits for a maximum of 18 months, can be applied.
- Consequences of benefit fraud – Stricter action will be taken to deal with benefit fraud. These changes were introduced in April 2016.
- Direct Earnings Attachment – From November 2016 the Social Security Agency will be able to deduct overpayments of benefits directly from your salary.
How will I be affected?
If you are claiming any of the benefits mentioned above you will be informed in writing before any change takes place.
There is a Government helpline which provides information on the changes, phone 0300 300 7877. Please note that this is an information line only, the advisors cannot advise on your personal benefit entitlement.
Information is also available on the NI Direct website.
We can help!
Employers For Childcare provides a free Family Benefits Advice Service for families. Our specialist advisors can carry out personalised benefits assessments for you and can provide advice and information on the welfare changes.
Our helpline is completely impartial, we are not connected to any government agency. Any information you give with be treated confidentially.
Call us today on Freephone 0800 028 3008 or 02892 678200.