Access to Benefits
The Department for Communities’ Make the Call Wraparound service supports vulnerable people to access benefits, supports and services which they are entitled to but not claiming.
A Make the Call Benefit Advisor can provide you with a full assessment of your entitlements.
To speak to one of your local Benefit Advisors, contact Make the Call:
Phone: 0800 232 1271 (Freephone)
Phone lines are open Monday to Friday from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm (excluding public holidays)
If you use sign language
You can use British Sign Language (BSL) or Irish Sign Language (ISL) to contact Make the Call Service:
To use the video relay service:
- check that you can use the video relay service
- contact Make the Call service via the video relay service
Please note this service is for Northern Ireland residents only.
To find out more about the Make the Call service visit nidirect.
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 was introduced on 6 April 2017 to help people deal with the more immediate costs associated with the death of a spouse or civil partner.
Bereavement Support Payment replaced the three existing bereavement benefits (Bereavement Payment, Bereavement Allowance and Widowed Parent’s Allowance) and is paid to new claimants where the date of death is on or after 6 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.
- More information on Bereavement Support Payment
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.
Covid-19 Heating Payment
In recognition of additional costs arising from the Covid-19 pandemic the Department is providing a one-off heating payment for people who are in receipt of Pension Credit, or are in receipt of certain disability benefits at the higher rates. There is no need to apply for a Covid-19 Heating Payment.
If claimants were already receiving one of the benefits below in the qualifying week, they will receive the payment automatically.
To be eligible for a Covid-19 Heating Payment during the qualifying week (from Monday 30 November to Sunday 6 December (inclusive), benefit recipients must have been a resident in Northern Ireland and in receipt of one or more of the following benefits below:
- State Pension Credit
- the higher rate of Attendance Allowance
- the highest rate care component or higher rate mobility component (or both) of Disability Living Allowance;
- the enhanced rate of the daily living component or enhanced rate mobility component (or both) of Personal Independence Payment.
How it is paid
If eligible the Covid-19 Heating Payment will be a one-off payment of £200 paid automatically into the same account for their usual benefit payments.
One payment only of the Covid-19 Heating Payment will be made, even if more than one of the benefits above was in payment during the qualifying week.
When it is paid
Payment of the Covid-19 Heating Payment will be made during week commencing 25 January 2021.
If a benefit recipient thinks they are eligible but have not received a payment by 15 February 2021 they can contact the relevant office below:
Pension Credit: 0800 587 0892
Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance: 0800 587 0912
Personal Independence Payment: 0800 587 0932
Alternatively for general enquiries about the Covid-19 Heating Payment they can contact:
Covid-19 Heating Payment Enquiries: 02879 396124
If they think they are eligible but have not received payment by 15 February 2021, that this is reported before 30 April 2021.
About this payment
This payment will be disregarded when considering your entitlement to other benefits, including tax credits, and may be taxable.
The Covid-19 Heating Payment is in addition to any other payments, including the Winter Fuel Payment.
If they are part of a couple to whom Pension Credit is jointly paid, only one Covid-19 Heating Payment will be made.
People who were resident in a care home during the qualifying week will not receive the payment.
Other support for heating
You may be able to get other help to heat your home. For further information see:
If people find that you they are not eligible for any of the payments above, they may wish to apply for Discretionary Support, information is available at:
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.
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
- Guidance for approved third parties - support for children with Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance and Universal Credit
For more information on Income Support
Pension Credit is an income-related benefit made up of 2 parts - Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit.
Guarantee Credit tops up weekly income if it’s below £173.75 (for single people) or £265.20 (for couples). A person may still be eligible if they have savings, a pension or own their own home.
Savings Credit is an extra payment for people who saved some money towards their retirement, for example a pension.
Tax is not paid on Pension 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.
Refugees access to benefits
From 23 April 2018 the Department for Communities adopted a new process introduced by the Home Office and adopted by Department for Work and Pensions to reduce delays for refugees within Northern Ireland to access benefits.
This new process extends a version of the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme to other refugees but will not apply to Refugees already entering NI under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme process already in place.
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
Welfare Supplementary Payments
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.