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Housing and debt helpline for Northern Ireland – 028 9024 5640

Welfare Reform

Regulations converting Support for Mortgage Interest to a loan have recently been passed. We take a look at how the new payments of SMI will operate for claimants.

Loans for mortgage interest

All payments of SMI made on or after 6th April 2018 will take the form of a loan.

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Benefits, Repossession, Welfare Reform, Affordability

Universal Credit claimants will typically wait six weeks before receiving their first payment. While those who have applied immediately after leaving employment may be able to sustain themselves during this six-week period with their final payment of wages.

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Benefits, Welfare Reform

Local charity Housing Rights is urging older people who get help paying the interest on their mortgage (Support for Mortgage Interest SMI)  to seek advice as they receive notification of the benefit changing to a loan. 

The Department for Communities will be sending out letters notifying older people about the change this weekend.  Claimants will also be contacted by phone in the coming weeks in advance of the benefit ending.

Ursula Toner, Advice Services Manager with Housing Rights said:

Universal Credit will be introduced in Northern Ireland on 27 September. People who are claiming Universal Credit will have to make a separate application for help with their rates. This assistance will be made available under a new “rates rebate” scheme, administered by Land and Property Services and accessed through NI Direct.

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Benefits, Welfare Reform

Housing Rights, together with NIFHA, the Council for Homelessness in NI, Shelter NI, the Chartered Institute of Housing, the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action, Advice NI and Supporting Communities NI, is calling for the rollout of Universal Credit in Northern Ireland to be urgently reviewed to prevent issues that have arisen in England, Scotland and Wales being repeated in Northern Ireland.

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Benefits, Welfare Reform, Policy, Affordability

Elements of Universal Credit will pose significant challenges for claimants, advisers and landlords. Housing Rights has particular concerns about how Universal Credit deals with changes of circumstance, particularly in respect of tenants who move home during an assessment period. Changes of circumstances are backdated to the beginning of the assessment period in which the change happened.

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Benefits, Money Matters, Welfare Reform, Policy, Affordability

Citizens Advice has renewed its calls for a pause in the roll-out of Universal Credit in Great Britain, citing evidence that the new benefit is causing increased debts, rent arrears and difficulty in meeting core household expenses.

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Benefits, Research, Welfare Reform, Policy

The 27th September 2017 sees the official “roll out” of Universal Credit in Northern Ireland.

The precursor to this “roll out” is the introduction of a wealth of statutory instruments, bringing into force laws which regulate for the specifics of Universal Credit. This article highlights some of the most recent key legislative updates over the past couple of months.

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Benefits, Welfare Reform

The Child Poverty Action Group successfully argued that the Department for Work and Pensions should not refuse claimants access to an appeal tribunal if they had failed to request a mandatory reconsideration of a benefit decision within a four-week time frame.

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Benefits, Welfare Reform, Case law, Legal
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Over 40,000 tenants were evicted from their homes across England and Wales by landlords in 2015; an increase of a third since 2003 and the highest level recorded, according to the latest available figures in research conducted by Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).

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Benefits, Outside NI, Private Tenancies, Welfare Reform

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