Benefits Information for Advisors

Changes to the welfare system are currently being introduced in Northern Ireland. We've provided information to help ensure advisors have up to date information.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a new payment for working-age people who are on low income or out of work. To get Universal Credit you must be aged 18 or over and be under State Pension age. Universal Credit will replace:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (income-based)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (income-related)
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefit (Rental)

More information on Universal Credit

Personal Independence Payment

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a new benefit replacing Disability Living Allowance for people aged 16 to 64 years.

Information for the public can be found on nidirect.

Benefit Cap

The Benefit Cap is an upper limit to the amount of benefits households can receive. It makes sure that households on out-of-work benefits do not receive more than the average take home pay for working households. For the Benefit Cap to apply, someone in the household must be in receipt of Housing Benefit.

A household means the claimant, their partner (if they have one) and any children they are responsible for and who live with them.

Bereavement Support Payment

Bereavement Support Payment will be introduced on 6th April 2017 to help people deal with the more immediate costs associated with the death of a spouse or civil partner.

Bereavement Support Payment will replace the three existing bereavement benefits (Bereavement Payment, Bereavement Allowance and Widowed Parent’s Allowance) and will be paid to new claimants where the date of death is on or after 6th April 2017.

People already receiving existing bereavement benefits will continue to do so and will not be affected by the introduction of Bereavement Support Payment.

ESA Time-Limiting

Welfare Changes will limit the amount of time that contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA(C)) can be paid to some claimants to 365 days. Claimants in the Support Group are not affected and any time spent in the Support Group, or the Assessment Phase before moving to the Support Group, will not count towards a claimant’s 365 day time-limit. This change will be introduced from 31 October 2016 with the first claimants impacted from 28 November.

The special conditions that allowed some young people to get contribution-based ESA without having paid any National Insurance contributions have also been removed. These were removed from 17 February 2016. Any such claim for Employment and Support Allowance is now treated in the same way it is for anyone else.

Carer’s Allowance Digital Service

The Carer’s Allowance Digital Service (CADS) allows carers to make a claim or report a change in their circumstances online. 

The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days per week, from a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone and can be accessed using the nidirect website.

Income Support

Income Support is extra money to help people on a low income. It’s for people who don't have to sign on as unemployed. Whether you qualify or not and how much you get depends on your circumstances.

Guidance for approved third parties in Northern Ireland

For more information on Income Support

Welfare Supplementary Payments and Income Tax

Taxable Welfare Supplementary Payments

Welfare Supplementary Payments that are replacing taxable benefits will be subject to tax. Therefore, Welfare Supplementary Payments made in respect of Employment and Support Allowance and Carer’s Allowance will be taxable.

Employment and Support Allowance time limited Welfare Supplementary Payments are made to claimants affected by changes which limit the payment of contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance to 365 days.

Carer’s Welfare Supplementary Payments are made to claimants who have lost entitlement to Carer’s Allowance or have lost entitlement to Income Support as a Carer as the person they care for has not been awarded the daily living component on reassessment from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Carer’s Welfare Supplementary Payments are also made to claimants who have lost entitlement to a Carer Premium on Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance as the person they care for has not been awarded the daily living component on reassessment from DLA to PIP. 

Carer Premiums are not normally taxable, therefore Carer’s Welfare Supplementary Payments are also not normally taxable. However, there are exceptions to this, namely:

  • If a claimant has lost entitlement to a Carer Premium on Income Support as a result of the person they care for not being awarded the daily living component on reassessment from DLA to PIP and they are involved in a strike/industrial action, the Carer’s Welfare Supplementary Payment will be taxable.
  • If a claimant has lost entitlement to a Carer Premium on income based Jobseeker’s Allowance as a result of the person they care for not being awarded the daily living component on reassessment from DLA to PIP and the weekly amount has been reduced to below the current personal allowance limit for some reason e.g. Capital, some or all of the Carer’s Welfare Supplementary Payment will be taxable.

Disability Premiums are not normally taxable, therefore, Disability Premium Welfare Supplementary Payments are also not normally taxable. However, there are exceptions to this, namely:

  • If a claimant has lost entitlement to a Disability Premium on Income Support as a result of their reassessment from DLA to PIP and they are involved in a strike/industrial action, the Disability Premium Welfare Supplementary Payment will be taxable.
  • If a claimant has lost entitlement to a Disability Premium on income based Jobseeker’s Allowance as a result of their reassessment from DLA to PIP and the weekly amount has been reduced to below the current personal allowance limit for some reason e.g. Capital, some or all of the Disability Premium Welfare Supplementary Payment will be taxable.

Non-Taxable Welfare Supplementary Payments

Welfare Supplementary Payments that are replacing non-taxable benefits will be exempt from tax. The following Welfare Supplementary Payments are non-taxable:

  • Benefit Cap Welfare Supplementary Payments;
  • Social Sector Size Criteria Welfare Supplementary Payments;
  • PIP Disallowed Welfare Supplementary Payments;
  • PIP Reduction Welfare Supplementary Payments;
  • PIP Conflict-Related Injury Welfare Supplementary Payments.

Notifying Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of taxable Welfare Supplementary Payments

If a claimant is in receipt of a Welfare Supplementary Payment that is taxable, they must notify HMRC using their Personal Tax Account. Claimants will need their National Insurance Number and a passport or recent payslip to sign in.

Once registered to use the service, claimants can use their Personal Tax Account to:

  • notify HMRC of their taxable Welfare Supplementary Payments,
  • see if they are already paying any tax on their Welfare Supplementary Payments,
  • tell HMRC about changes to their taxable Welfare Supplementary Payments.
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