Miscellaneous amendments to universal credit and other social security regulations in Northern Ireland

New statutory rule

New regulations have been issued that make miscellaneous amendments to universal credit and other social security legislation in Northern Ireland.

In force from 29 June 2023, the Social Security, Universal Credit and State Pension (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2023 (SR.No.93/2023) make amendments to provisions relating to universal credit to correct errors and clarify policy intent.

Key amendments include –

  • making it clear that claimants who are already determined as having limited capability for work do not have to serve the 3-month relevant period before the limited capability for work-related activity element is awarded;
  • clarifying that the maximum period of one month backdating in universal credit is based on the length of an assessment period, with the date of claim becoming the last day of the first assessment period;
  • clarifying the rates element of housing benefit is not subject to the housing benefit run-on, maintaining parity with the run on regime in Great Britain – while the rates element was deliberately removed from the 'run-on' by the Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2022, no date was specified for the end of the element;
  • ensuring that where a claimant is in receipt of housing benefit for both temporary or specified accommodation as well as their permanent home (for example due to domestic violence), then the amount of housing benefit awarded for their permanent home will be taken into account when calculating transitional protection (NB – housing benefit will continue to cover temporary or specified accommodation after migration to universal credit); and
  • clarifying that for universal credit couple claims, the highest rate of the transitional severe disability premium element will be payable if the higher severe disability premium rate was payable in their previous legacy benefit (income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance or income-related employment and support allowance) and no person has since become a carer for either of them.

In addition, the regulations amend the State Pension Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015 by adding universal credit to the list of benefits which, if received during a period of deferral of state pension, are not included in determining the period of deferral for incremental purposes. They also clarify the position for the finalisation of entitlement to tax credits where the award is terminated within the tax year following a claim for universal credit by removing some unnecessary references to 'part' of the current tax year.

NB – the regulations introduce amendments that are broadly equivalent to those introduced in Great Britain by the Social Security and Universal Credit (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2023 (SI.No.543/2023).

SR.No.93/2023 is available from legislation.gov.uk