Minister announces further support for those affected by COVID-19

Date published: 21 April 2020

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA has announced increased access to emergency financial support in response to COVID-19.

The Assembly today approved a change to Discretionary Support legislation which will provide increased access to emergency financial support for claimants who find themselves in a crisis.  The change to legislation raises the Annual Income Threshold to £20,405 (this is the level of income below which a person is eligible for Discretionary Support).

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA said:

“I am determined that my Department will do everything it can to help people during this extremely difficult time.  Today’s amendment will mean that many more people on low incomes will be able to access emergency financial support.  This will include the new living expenses grant for people affected by COVID-19 that the Assembly recently approved.  

I can advise that almost 1,300 living expenses grants for COVID-19, totalling approximately £219,000, have already been issued. This includes £175,000 awarded to more than 1,000 households in the week ending 17 April. Indeed, in the past month, my Department has awarded over £1 million in emergency financial support to more than 5,000 households”.

The Minister concluded:

“The introduction of this amendment to Discretionary Support, alongside the other changes introduced recently, will enable more people on low incomes access to emergency financial support and will provide further help to the most vulnerable in society who are facing extreme, exceptional or crisis situations during this period.”

To find out more and to apply please visit

Notes to editors: 

Note to Editors:


  1. Discretionary Support was introduced here to replace Social Fund Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans for living expenses. Awards can be made as either a loan or a non-repayable grant to assist with a range of crisis situations. This can include an award to assist with living expenses where a person has no means of meeting immediate costs for themselves or their immediate family.
  2. Media enquiries to DfC Press Office email: Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.
  3. Follow us on twitter @CommunitiesNI

Share this page

Back to top