SOCIAL SECTOR SIZE CRITERIA, UNIVERSAL CREDIT, WELFARE CHANGES AND APPLYING FOR HOUSING BENEFIT ONLINE:
Social Sector Size Criteria: If you’re a Housing Executive or housing association tenant and receive Housing Benefit then since 20 February the rent used to calculate this entitlement may have been reduced because you’re considered to be under-occupying your home. You may not have seen a difference in your payments but your rent statement will show the reduction and a Welfare Supplementary [mitigation] Payment (WSP) to cover this shortfall. However, this financial help is only in place until March 2020. If you are considering moving but do not have ‘Management Transfer’ status and think you may lose the financial help (WSP) talk to your housing officer. A move does not always mean a loss of WSP.
Universal Credit: This new payment system is for working age (18 + and under State Pension age) people who are on a low income or out of work. It will be introduced gradually across Northern Ireland starting September 2017 in Limavady, reaching Belfast at the end of May 2018. Find out more on the government’s website nidirect (search for Welfare Changes).
Help with Welfare Changes: If you need advice a helpline is available freephone 0808 802 0020: Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. You can arrange a face to face talk with an independent adviser. This service is free for anyone who needs help or advice relating to any changes to the welfare system.
Apply for Housing Benefit Online: You can make an application for housing benefit online at nihe.gov.uk. The online form is quick, easy, will make assessment quicker (provided we get all the information needed) and is available on your smartphone, tablet, PC in your home or where there’s free WiFi.