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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Changes to Housing Benefit premiums under Welfare Reform

When working out your Housing Benefit, the Housing Executive gives you premiums and allowances for everyone living in your home. These allowances and premiums are changing under welfare reform and this may mean that some people receive less Housing Benefit.

Who will this affect?

These changes won’t affect people who receive

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Guarantee element of Pension Credit

If you receive any of the benefits above, you will be “passported” to Housing Benefit and the Housing Executive won’t have to look at your household income to decide how much help you’ll get with rent and rates.

This change will affect people making a new claim for Housing Benefit, who are not receiving the above benefits.

What are premiums and allowances?

The Housing Executive has to work out how much Housing Benefit you need. To do this, they look at how much money is coming into your home and compare this with the minimum amount that the government believes your household needs in order to manage. This minimum amount is called your “applicable amount”.

Your applicable amount is made up of personal allowances and premiums. You’ll get an allowance as either a single person or a couple. You will then get further allowances for any children living in your household.

You can then add certain premiums to your weekly personal allowance.  Before welfare reform you could get the following premiums

  • A family premium if you have children
  • A work related activity component if you were in the work related activity group of ESA
  • Disability premiums if members of the household receive certain disability benefits.

How have these premiums or allowances changed?

There have been a number of changes to premiums under welfare reform. Families and people with disabilities will be most affected by these changes.

  • The family premium was removed for new claims from September 2016
  • The work related activity component was removed from ESA in April 2017, so new ESA claimants will no longer get the associated premium for Housing Benefit
  • People who move from DLA to PIP may no longer be entitled to the same disability premiums in their Housing Benefit
  • If you claimed after 11 May 2017, only a maximum of two children will be counted in your personal allowance, regardless of how many children are in your household.

What do these changes mean?

These changes mean that your applicable amount may be lower and that the amount you have to contribute towards your housing costs will be higher.  Families and individuals who are working and who are making a new claim for Housing Benefit will receive less money than they would have if they had claimed before these changes.  

Is any extra help available?

If you do not receive means-tested benefits and you have children, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment if your Housing Benefit doesn't cover your rent and you are struggling financially. Discretionary Housing Payments are usually reserved for private tenants, but social tenants can also apply if you have been affected by the removal of the family premium or by the benefit cap