Social Security regional variations between Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Welfare reform plans in Northern Ireland, which are similar to the plans enacted by the Welfare Reform Act 2012 in Great Britain, have been delayed and it is unknown when the Welfare Reform Bill will be passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly.

With regard to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP), if you live in Northern Ireland you must claim DLA, not PIP, because PIP has not been introduced there yet. The same applies if you want to renew an award of DLA. Here is a summary of the regional variations between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Benefits in England, Scotland and Wales

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

The DWP deals with most benefits through a number of different centres and services. These include:

Disability and Carers Service

This service deals with most benefits for disabled people and their carers, including Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment and Carer’s Allowance. It does this through regional Disability Benefits Centres and the Carer’s Allowance Unit.

Jobcentre Plus

Jobcentre Plus deals with many of the benefits for people of working age including Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit.

Pension Service

The Pension Service handles benefits for people of pension age, including State Pension and Pension Credit and Winter Fuel Payments. It’s mainly a phone-based service and is supported by local services that can provide face-to-face appointments through libraries, community centres and home visits.

HM Revenue & Customs

HM Revenue & Customs, the government department that deals with tax and VAT, also deals with Tax Credits and Child Benefit.

Local councils

Local councils deal with Housing Benefit (help with rent), Council Tax Support and Discretionary Housing Payments.

Benefits in Northern Ireland

Benefits are dealt with differently in Northern Ireland to Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales). Northern Ireland has its own laws. While the structure and organisation of the system are different from that of Great Britain, they tend to mirror it and the rates of benefits and their qualifying conditions are similar.

The Department for Social Development is responsible for social security matters, and benefits are administered by the Social Security Agency.

For benefits information and support in Northern Ireland see http://www.nidirect.gov.uk  or phone the Northern Ireland Benefits Advice Line for general information about benefits on 0800 232 1271.

You can also contact the Northern Ireland Benefit Enquiry Lines:

  • 0800 422 4250 for information about Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income Support
  • 0800 085 6318 for information about Employment and Support Allowance

Tax Credits in Northern Ireland are dealt with by HM Revenue & Customs as in Great Britain.

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