Benefit Changes

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

Benefit Cap

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:

Direct Earnings Attachment

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 (Bedroom Tax)

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:

Two-Child Limit

Since 6 April 2017 families are generally only able to claim support through Universal Credit, Child Tax Credit or Income Support for a maximum of two children. They will not be paid an additional amount for more than two children, unless the children were born before 6 April 2017 or an exception applies.

More information about the two-child limit in Universal Credit and Income Support can be accessed at nidirect:

Information on the application of the two-child limit in Tax Credits is at

Welfare Supplementary Payments

Welfare Supplementary Payments soften the impact of certain welfare changes in Northern Ireland. Anyone who has lost out due to the relevant changes 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: