Total: £0.00

picture of telephone  click icon for access to housing law in practice reference manual for membersMailing ListTwitterFacebook  YouTube

When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Welfare mitigations extended and loopholes closed

Over the past few weeks, the Northern Ireland Assembly passed legislation to protect over 40,000 households from social security cuts.  

Housing Rights has been pushing for this legislation for the last 3 years as co-convenors of the Cliff Edge Coalition. We're delighted to see 3 new pieces of legislation which ensure that: 

  • bedroom tax mitigations have been extended indefinitely 
  • all other existing mitigations, including benefit cap mitigations, have been extended until March 2025 
  • loopholes in the bedroom tax and benefit cap mitigations which had left hundreds unprotected have been closed, meaning everyone impacted will now receive mitigation payments  

Entitlement to a mitigation payment for bedroom tax  

The bedroom tax reduces the amount of help a social tenant gets with rent if their home has more bedrooms than they need. Supplementary payments cover this full loss.  

Until recently, tenants could lose this payment if they moved home. The Welfare Supplementary Payment (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2022 remove this loophole.  

Entitlement to a mitigation payment for benefit cap  

The benefit cap limits the amount of benefits a single person or household can claim. People in Northern Ireland could get an extra payment to cover this cut, but  

  • they had to be continually claiming benefits since November 2016 to get the extra payment, and  
  • the extra payment didn't always reflect the full amount of the cut to their benefits  

The 2022 regulations make changes so that  

  • any person who is responsible for children can get an extra payment to cover the benefit cap  
  • the payment will be the full value of the cut to their benefits  

Payments to restart within 6 weeks  

People who are entitled to a welfare supplementary payment should receive this automatically. Claimants do not need to apply for them.  

On 10 February the Department for Communities began working to identify people who lost their extra payment because they moved house or stopped claiming. Payments to these people should restart by mid-March. These payments won’t be backdated to cover any loss before the new legislation was made.  

Continuing our work to protect people from social security cuts 

The passing of this legislation is a very significant step for the Cliff Edge Coalition but work remains to be done. The coalition is continuing to call for the mitigations package to be strengthened to address new challenges such as:  

  • the 5-week wait for Universal Credit  
  • the 2-child limit  
  • cuts to housing benefits for private tenants  

The Minister for Communities appointed an independent panel to review the mitigation package to consider areas in which the mitigations package could be strengthened. The Cliff Edge Coalition met with the panel as part of this process and will be continuing to campaign for strengthened mitigations in the months ahead. 

More information about the new legislation  

Housing Rights will be discussing the new legislation at Housing Advice Practitioners' Forum on 30 March.  

Contact our helpline if you have questions about the new legislation  

Tagged In

Benefits, Legislation, Welfare Reform, NI Assembly

This article was written on 8 March 2022. 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.