If you need advice in relation to a benefit query, you can contact one of our member organisations that are spread across Northern Ireland.
- Benefit appointments and payments
- Carers Allowance
- Discretionary Support
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Free School Meals
- Jobseekers Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- Universal Credit
If you're already receiving benefits, you will continue to receive payments. Payments will still be processed as usual.
The Department for Communities has put additional support in place to assist Post Office card account and HM Government Payment Exception Service customers who are unable to access their benefit or pension payments during the Coronavirus pandemic.
A single point of contact has been established within the Department’s ‘Make the Call’ team to receive referrals from the NI COVID19 Helpline or Post Office Ltd for immediate action.
The Department will offer a range of options including:
- Switching customers to a bank account to allow the purchase of items over the phone or online
- Setting up a permanent agent or appointee to collect their money on their behalf, or
- Issuing a voucher payment via SMS/email to a trusted friend to collect their money for them.
The Make the Call team can be contacted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 0800 232 1271. The COVID-19 Community Helpline can be contacted by 0808 802 0020.
You do not need to attend any medical assessments during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, even if you do not have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). You will not be penalised as a result of a postponed appointment.
Emotional support will also be counted towards the care you provide for someone during the COVID-19 crisis.
Claim Form (DS1a) – Claim for Items and/or Living Expenses from Discretionary Support, Universal Credit Contingency Fund, COVID-19 scheme or Short Term Benefit Advance
Discretionary Support payments are a means of financial support to help in a crisis situation. Support may be in the form of an interest free loan or non-repayable grant.
Please note this form is for people living in Northern Ireland only.
You will need:
- your National Insurance number
- details of money you receive
You may be eligible for a Discretionary Support payment if:
- you are facing an extreme, exceptional or crisis situation which presents a significant risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of you and/or your immediate family; and
- you and if applicable, your family, can demonstrate that you are resident in and ordinarily live in Northern Ireland; and
- you are 18 years old at the date of the claim except in the case of a young person who is without parental support, in which case minimum age is 16 years old; and
- your need for a Discretionary Support payment has arisen in Northern Ireland and is to be used within Northern Ireland; and
- your income or in the case of a couple, the joint income less any allowable disregards, does not exceed the annual national minimum wage (currently set at £20,404.08 per year); and
- your need cannot be met from another source
Discretionary Support COVID-19 GrantThe non-repayable Discretionary Support COVID-19 Grant introduced last March, nearly 7 months ago is specifically designed as supportive intervention for people on low incomes diagnosed with COVID-19 or told to self-isolate.
Covid-19 Grant available to people with low incomes who need to self-isolate, they should apply to Scheme online via NIDirect https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/claim-discretionary-support or by phone 0800 587 2750.
Key Supportive Features of the non-repayable DS COVID19 grant are:
- Awards will have calculated after considering each person’s individual circumstances
- Awards will include a specific amount for all of the children in the household
- There are no restrictions on the number of Discretionary Support COVID-19 grants that can be awarded
- Any Discretionary Support COVID19 award made will not affect any future application to Discretionary Support or the Universal Credit contingency fund.
- Awards are disregarded for benefit purposes
- Awards are not subject to income tax.
- DfC will continue providing support to people affected by COVID-19 into the future
- This support provided by DfC is not aligned to any lawful enforcement on self-isolation.
All appointments and assessments for ESA have been postponed and you will not be penalised as a result of a postponed appointment.
If you need to claim ESA or have a query you can contact the ESA centre.
All public Housing Executive offices are closed but you can still get in touch by telephone:
- 03448 920 900 – General enquiries.
- 03448 920 901 – Repairs.
- 03448 920 902 – Housing Benefit.
Work search and work availability requirements have however been reinstated from 3 August 2020 for new claims to Jobseeker’s Allowance.
You can still make a new claim for PIP by contacting the PIP Centre. via the Universal Credit Service Centre if you need help with a new claim.
If you're already claiming Universal Credit, tell your work coach in your online journal if you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). If you do not have an online account, you can call the Universal Credit Service Centre.
You’ll continue to receive your Universal Credit payments as normal.
If you’re working while claiming Universal Credit, your payment will be adjusted if you can no longer work due to coronavirus (COVID-19).
Self-employed people can claim Universal Credit. From 6 April the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor have been temporarily relaxed. This change applies to all Universal Credit claimants and will last for the duration of the outbreak. The current easement of the suspension of the Minimum Income Floor in Universal Credit that was due to expire on 12th November 2020 will be extended to the end of April 2021.
The Self-employment Income Support Scheme will be treated as earnings in Universal Credit and your Universal Credit payment will be adjusted in response to changes in your earnings.
Find an Advice NI Member
Our members are spread across Northern Ireland and can help with any benefit queries you have. To view our members as a list, visit this link -> https://www.adviceni.net/advice/get/local/list
Some information on this page contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.