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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Legislation update: UC and Pension Credit changes

Several new pieces of legislation have been laid before Parliament in order to give effect to changes to Universal Credit , which were announced by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. 

Restrictions on UC claims from people in receipt of Severe Disabilty Premium

The Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) (SDP Gateway) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2019 came into effect on 16 January 2019. These regulations prevent benefit claimants who are currently in receipt of a Severe Disability Premium from migrating to Universal Credit due to a change in circumstances. Claimants whose benefit award has ended within the last month, but who continue to satisfy the conditions for eligibility for an SDP will also be prevented from claiming Universal Credit.  For the purposes of this instrument, a Severe Disability Premium includes the equivalent premium under ESA, Income Support, old-style JSA or Housing Benefit. 

Claimants who are restricted from claiming UC due to this change will, instead, be directed to claim legacy benefits. As there is currently no equivalent to the SDP in UC, claimants will be better off under the legacy system. 

The DWP has issued guidance to decision makers in local authorities confirming that housing benefit awards should continue, despite a stop notice being issued, if a claimant affected by this change makes a universal credit claim in error. Similar guidance has not yet been issued in Northern Ireland. 

Changes to two-child limit

The Universal Credit (Restriction on Amounts for Children and Qualifying Young Persons) (Transitional Provions) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2019 come into effect on 1 February 2019. 

These regulations amend the Universal Credit Regulations (NI) 2016 to allow families with more than two children to claim Universal Credit, and to ensure that a child element will be payable in respect of all children born before 1 April 2017. 

Until 1 February 2019, a household comprised of more than 2 children which needs to claim social security assistance will be directed to claim legacy benefits and tax credits. If you are advising people in this situation, an urgent better-off calculation is advisable to check if the household will receive more assistance under the legacy system. If so, clients should be advised to make the claim for benefits as quickly as possible before access to the legacy system ends on 1 February. 

Preventing access to pension credit and Housing Benefit for mixed-age couples

The Welfare Reform (Northern Ireland) Order 3026 (Commencement No. 13 and Savings and Transitional Provisions and Commencement No. 8 and Transitional and Transitory Priovions) (Amendment)) Order 2019 prevents a couple from receiving pension credit where one member of the couple is of working-age.  This change comes into effect on 15 May 2019.

The Savings Provisions in the Order allow a mixed-age couple to make a new claim for either Housing Benefit or Pension Credit as long as they were entitled to receive either benefit on 14 May 2019. This means that a mixed-age couple who, for example, move from owner occupier accommodation to rented accommodation after the legislation takes effect and who had been received State Pension Credit since at least 14 May 2019 will be entitled to claim Housing Benefit to help with the rent, and will not be directed to Universal Credit. 

Tagged In

Benefits, Welfare Reform