We use cookies to provide you with the best experience on our website - find out how we use cookies.
By continuing to browse our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Expected timeline of welfare reform in Northern Ireland

Please note: this is a rough timeline which could substantially change as the implementation of welfare reform develops in Northern Ireland. We will endeavour to keep you updated of any changes.

17 February 2016 - Abolition of ESA in Youth for new claims - now in force

1 April 2016              

For ESA, JSA and IS, the waiting period before housing costs (including help with mortgage interest) can be met is increased from 13 weeks to 39 weeks

4 April 2016

The amount a person can pay as a penalty in order to avoid prosecution changes from 30% of the overpayment to 50% (subject to a maximum of £2,000)

31 May 2016

Introduction of the Benefit Cap

Late May/ early June 2016

Introduction of Mandatory Reconsideration and Direct Lodgment of appeals

20 June 2016

DLA abolished for new claims and replaced by Personal Independence Payment. Start of “natural reassessment” of existing DLA claimants for PIP

September 2016

Introduction of new “Fraud and Error” provisions – changes to overpayments and how they can be recovered

Launch of Universal Credit pilot

31 October 2016

Time-limiting of contributory ESA to 365 days

Also applies to those in receipt of ESA in Youth

Time limit is retrospective but days in the support group do not count towards the 365 day time limit

November 2016

Discretionary Support Payments replace discretionary Social Fund

December 2016

Start of “managed reassessments” of existing DLA claimants for PIP

16 January 2017

For Income Support, the age of the youngest child for which a person is responsible in order to be treated as a lone parent changes from 7 to 5 years old.

Similar changes are made to JSA regarding availability for work for lone parents where the youngest child is aged 5.

Other changes to be confirmed, depending on the passage of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill 2015/2016

These could include:

  • Lowering the benefit cap to £20,000 per year
  • Freeze on working age benefit rates
  • Reductions in the amount of Child Tax Credit and the child element on Universal Credit – limited to two children, no higher amount for first child
  • Reductions in the earnings disregards in Universal Credit
  • Removal of the Work Related Activity Component for new claimants to ESA
  • Changes to conditionality under Universal Credit for carers and lone parents where the youngest child is aged between 1-3 years
  • Support for Mortgage Interest to be replaced by a loan system


Follow us on twitter


Flickr logo

Follow us on Linkedin


Become a member

Work with us

WRAP login

Donate to Law Centre (NI)


Law Centres Network logo