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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Universal Credit contingency fund access criteria relaxed

From 1 January 2019 new claimants of Universal Credit will have access to a contingency fund without having to first apply for an advance payment. 

The contingency fund was set up to assist those who had moved to Universal Credit, following explicit recommendations in the Evason Report for a fund "...to make emergency payments where hardship occurs as a result difficulties which are not due to any fault on the part of the claimant." 

The Department for Communities took the decision to administer this fund through the existing Finance Support system and to introduce an access condition requiring that any person must first apply for an advance payment before they could gain assistance from the contingency fund. This decision was criticised and the Department was urged to relax this restrictive acccess criterion, particularly in the wake of an NI Audit Office report which revealed that just 115 payments, totally £17,000. had been made out of the £7 million fund between 1 November 2017 and 31 March 2018. 

People who are being transitioned to Universal Credit due to a change of circumstances should be encouraged to discuss the availability of support from the Contingency Fund with their UC work coach. 

 

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Benefits, Welfare Reform