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Law Centre NI Social Security Bulletin

No. 26. 9 August 2019

Social Security Updates

New Benefit Cap Statistics- 

The Department for Communities reported that, as at April 2019, there were 1,270 capped households of which 79% had between 2 and 4 children and 21% had 5 or more children - in January 2019 there were less than 10 capped households with one or no children. The average amount capped at April 2019 was £47 per week. The majority of claimants are receiving mitigation payments which make up for the reduction in Housing Benefit due to the application of the Benefit Cap. However, these mitigation payments are set to end in March 2020 with nothing in place to protect claimants from the looming cliff edge. See the statistics here

Capita secures a two-year extension to its contract with DfC for PIP assessments- 

On 31 July 2019, Capita announced a two-year extension, worth approximately £33m, to its PIP assessment contract with the Department for Communities (DfC). Capita is contracted by DfC to deliver functional assessments and produce reports which are reviewed by DfC case managers to determine PIP entitlement. See Capita's announcement here

New Legislation

The Universal Credit (Managed Migration and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2019

These regulations make provision to -

  • introduce the process that existing benefit claimants will follow when they are managed migrated to UC;
  • allow for a transitional element or transitional capital disregard (or both) to paid to provide protection for existing benefit claimants who, upon managed migration, would have a lower entitlement to universal credit than their total existing benefit awards;
  • introduce discretionary hardship payments;
  • introduce a two-week run-on of income support, income-based JSA and income-related ESA for those whose awards of benefits have stopped as a result of their claim for UC;
  • provide for a 12-month period when the Minimum Income Floor (MIF); 
  • provide that claimants who are receiving an existing benefit and are in education, are considered entitled to UC when they are managed migrated; and
  • introduce ‘transitional payments’ for those eligible claimants who were in receipt of the severe disability premium (SDP) as part of their award of income-based JSA, income-related ESA or income support and have already moved to UC following a relevant change in their circumstances.

*For advice on the new Regulations, contact the team on 02890244401*

Universal Credit

Transitional Payments for those who lost their SDP- 

On 7 August 2019, the Department for Communities confirmed that transitional payments, for those who lost their Severe Disability Premium when moving onto Universal Credit, will begin to be paid from August 2019. Eligible claimants don’t need to do anything as yet, they will be contacted by DfC. See DfC's statement here

Managed Migration Pilot Begins in GB- 

The UC managed migration pilot has been launched in Harrogate, North Yorkshire with 10,000 people. Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions said: "This managed migration involves moving claimants still on legacy benefits who have not had a change in circumstances across to UC. This pilot will give colleagues and claimants confidence in the Department's approach to this transition before we return to the House to report on progress and seek permission to extend managed migration." The managed migration pilot does not impact UC claimants in NI. See more about the pilot here

Law Centre NI on the Frontline

Cliff Edge NI Coalition- Help us reach 100 members!

Law Centre NI is a co-convener of the Cliff Edge NI Coalition. This group comprises 94 organisations concerned about the impending cessation of the current welfare reform mitigations in Northern Ireland (NI).  Want to get involved? Join us! Email for more details. You can also follow us on Twitter at @CliffEdgeNI.
Tell us about your experience of claiming PIP: *Deadline: 16th August!* 

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Learning Disability, supported by Mencap NI and Law Centre NI, is working to make the Personal Independence Payment process better for people with disabilities. If you have claimed PIP, or supported someone who has, we want to hear from you. What went well? What didn't go well? How would you improve the process? Complete our anonymous survey at

CAN YOU HELP? Inflexibility of the Universal Credit assessment period-

We are interested in cases in which advisers have experienced the inflexibility of the UC assessment period. The rigidity of the assessment period regime in UC means that some people are being treated as receiving two monthly wages in one assessment period, in turn affecting the amount of their UC award. If you are aware of clients that have received two monthly wages in the same assessment period please get in touch with the Social Security Hub (T: 028 9024 4401).

You're Invited

Law Centre NI's Annual Conference ‘The Future of Social Security’-

Law Centre NI’s Annual conference is the place to be for interesting speakers, expert analysis and interactive workshops on social security law and practice. 
When: Thursday 24th October, 2019
Where: NICVA, 61 Duncairn Gardens, Belfast, BT15 2GB
Bookings: For more information, or to request a booking form, please contact
Cost: Members: £95 per person / Non-members: £105 per person (*Book before 31st August to take care of our 10% early bird discounted rate.* You can also take advantage of our multiple booking offer by booking four places and getting a fifth place free)

Training Event-

OCN NI Level 3 Certificate in Generalist Advice. This OCN NI Level 3 Certificate in Generalist Advice qualification has been designed to develop learners’ skills to equip them to effectively provide advice to the public.

Belfast (Only 5 places remaining!): Thursday 19 September 2019 - Thursday 21 November 2019
Derry/Londonderry: 5th November 2019 - 17th Dec 2019 / [Break for Christmas] / 7th January - 21st January

Email for a booking form. Find more details here. 

August's Tip

How can an adviser quickly work out how much someone can earn before they lose UC entitlement altogether?

Apply this formula: ( maximum UC
 ÷ 0.63 ) + work allowance
Maximum UC = sum of the total number of elements which apply in a person’s case.

For guidance or assistance with UC please call Law Centre NI's Social Security Advice Line. (T:  028 9024 4401).

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Welfare Reform Support Team
If you encounter a complex issue our Welfare Reform Support Team can provide you with advice: 028 9024 4401.
3rd Floor, Middleton Building, 10-12 High Street, Belfast, BT1 2BA
T: 028 9024 4401 

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 Law Centre (NI) 

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