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Legislation: Coronavirus and benefit up-rating

Recent developments have necessitated a raft of new legislation impacting social security and housing issues. Some of the new statutory rules which are of most relevance to advisers are set out below

The Discretionary Support (Amendment No.2) (Covid 19) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020

NISR 2020 67

These regulations amend the income levels used to determine eligibility for assistance through the discretionary support scheme. The regulations amend the income threshold by increasing the number of working hours used to calculate entitlement from 40 to 45 hours. This means that a person is eligible for assistance if their annual income is below the threshold of 52 weeks earning the equivalent of 45 hours a week at the national minimum wage for a 25 year old. This figure is currently £20,405 per annum. Read the Assembly debate here. 

The Social Fund Funeral Expenses Payment (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020

NISR 2020 62

These Regulations amend the Social Fund Maternity and Funeral Expenses (General) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2005 (S.R. 2005 No. 506) to increase the amount paid for funeral expenses additional to those listed in the Regulations from £700 to £1,000 for deaths which occur on or after 8th April 2020.

The Social Security (Coronavirus) (Prisoners) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020

NISR 2020 63

These regulations make changes to Universal Credit and other benefits to ensure that prisoners who are on temporary release from prison due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Northern Ireland can access benefits during their period of release. 

The Social Security (Coronavirus) (Further Measures) Amendment Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020

NISR 2020 61

The purpose of this instrument is to make changes to the Social Security (Coronavirus) (Further Measures) (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020 to change the assessment period in which the temporary increase of the universal credit standard allowance and increased Local Housing Allowance rates will take effect for each award of universal credit. This ensures that the additional support provided is available to claimants more quickly.

The Social Security (Coronavirus) (Further Measures) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020

These Regulations provide further measures in response to the present outbreak of coronavirus disease in Northern Ireland. This includes changes to minimum income floor provisions in UC, increasing the standard allowance under UC, increasing earnings disregards in HB, disapplying work search requirements for JSA and UC claimants, increasing LHA rates back to 30th percentile

The Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order (Northern Ireland) 2020

NISR 2020 40

This Order relates to the annual up-rating of social security benefits and includes the new rates of non-dependent deductions, premiums and personal allowances for Housing Benefit and uplifted elements, work allowances and housing costs contributions for Universal Credit. 

Tagged In

Coronavirus, Legislation
This article was written on 15 April 2020. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.