A number of changes have been introduced under the government’s Welfare Reform programme, including the replacement of a number of benefits. There have also been a number of changes to the way the benefit system is managed.

The Benefit Cap sets a limit on the total amount of benefit payable to a household. It applies to anyone of working age but there are exceptions for certain groups and mitigations for those affected.

More information about the Benefit Cap can be accessed at nidirect:

A Direct Earnings Attachment allows the government to recover overpayments or loans from wages. The deductions are based on the person’s net earnings.

More information about Direct Earnings Attachment, as well as contact information for Debt Management, can be accessed at nidirect:

Benefit sanctions reduce the amount of certain income-replacement benefits a claimant receives because they have not adhered to the rules of the benefit. The introduction of Universal Credit has changed the rules around benefit sanctions.

More information about benefit sanctions can be accessed at nidirect:

Social Sector Size Criteria (also known as the Bedroom Tax) limits the amount of Housing Benefit and Universal Credit Housing Costs Element paid to tenants in social housing if they have more bedrooms than they are considered to need. Mitigations are available for people on Housing Benefit affected by the Bedroom Tax.

More information about the Bedroom Tax can be accessed at nidirect:

Welfare Supplementary Payments soften the impact of certain welfare changes in Northern Ireland. Anyone who has lost out due to the changes to the benefit system should automatically receive a mitigation payment. It is important to inform the Welfare Supplementary Payments Team about any change in circumstances to avoid an overpayment.

More information about Welfare Supplementary Payments, as well as contact details, can be accessed at nidirect:


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