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Welfare reform: new regulations made May-June 2016

New statutory rules were made in May to pave the way for more changes to the benefits system in Northern Ireland. They come into force on 20 June 2016 unless otherwise stated. Read more here.

SR.No.216/2016 covers:

  • advances of benefits (replace interim payments and Social Fund crisis loans) and budgeting advances (replace budgeting loans) for Universal Credit claimants. Will come into force when Universal Credit is introduced.
  • advances of benefits for legacy benefits claimants. Will come into force when Social Fund discretionary payments are abolished.

SR.No.221/2016 covers aspects of decision making and appeals for Personal Independence Payment, ESA, JSA and Universal Credit. These include circumstances in which DfC may revise or supersede decisions and when these decisions take effect, corrections of accidental errors, determinations on incomplete evidence, provision for the suspension and termination of benefit. For Universal Credit, the rules will come into force on the date when the new benefit is introduced.

SR.No.224/2016 covers:

  • from 20 June, circumstances in which a Direct Earnings Attachment notice can be issued, the type of earnings from which a deduction can be taken, the responsibilities of employers, the relevant rates of deduction where a Direct Earnings Attachment is in place, and provision for recovery of Housing Benefit from Personal Independence Payment.
  • from the date of introduction of Universal Credit:
    • details of the methods of calculation and recovery of overpayments of Universal Credit and certain tax credits and, where a claim is made on or after the introduction of Universal Credit, of contributory JSA and ESA;
    • method of recovery of certain court costs, payments on account, hardship payments and administrative penalties;
    • provision for recovering Housing Benefit overpayments through Universal Credit.

SR.No.229/2016 introduces the following changes:

  • Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Carer’s Allowance:
    • a period of residence of 104 weeks out of the past 156 weeks will be required before entitlement can be established;
    • ordinarily resident test replaced with a habitual residence test;
    • ‘genuine and sufficient link’ provision introduced for those arriving in Northern Ireland from another EEA state or Switzerland, or moving abroad to one of those states.
  • Attendance Allowance Regulations and Disability Living Allowance only:
    • temporary absence rule reduced from 26 to 13 weeks - maximum period of 26 weeks where the absence is for medical reasons (same as for PIP);
    • accommodation, board and personal care services provided to a resident of a care home under the Health and Personal Social Services (Northern Ireland) Order 1972 will count as qualifying services.
  • Disability Living Allowance only:
    • from 6 December 2018, references to the upper age limit for claiming are to be read as references to ‘pensionable age’ to reflect the equalisation of pensionable ages for men and women; and
    • end of payment of mobility component for people with a Motability contract who enter hospital after 20 June 2016 (payment will continue for people who are hospital in-patients on or before that date until their Motability contract expires or until 20 June 2019, whichever is earliest).

SR.No 235/2016 removes the 84-day and 28-day payment limits for DLA and Personal Independence Payment for young people who are under 18 when first entering hospital. This comes into effect on 6 July 16.

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