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Welfare reform: what does it mean for carers?

31 August 2016

Lesley Johnston Carers NIWelfare reform is being implemented in Northern Ireland throughout 2016/17 under the Northern Ireland (Welfare Reform) Act 2015. With it comes the biggest changes to the social security system in many years. But what does it mean for carers?

Lesley Johnston, Advice and Information Officer at Carers NI, explains.


  • To find out more, download the Carers NI briefing on welfare reform
  • Need advice or information about caring? Talk to Carers NI on 028 9043 9843 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • To stay up-to-date on the latest news and information about caring, join Carers NI

You may have heard that there are some changes coming to the benefit system in Northern Ireland, as some of the reforms that have taken place in England, Wales and Scotland are now reaching Northern Ireland. 

Any change can be worrying – particularly when you're caring for someone and already feel the strain on your finances.

It is vital that you seek advice as early as possible if you think you may be affected.

Whether you need to talk it through, get advice about your personal situation or find out more about how to navigate the system, Carers NI is here to help. In my role I often speak to carers who have reached crisis point before seeking help. So I would urge you to get in touch as early as possible – call us on 028 9043 9843 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Main changes to be aware of

Carer’s Allowance

Carer’s Allowance itself is not changing with the introduction of welfare reform.

However, changes to disability benefits may affect your eligibility for Carer’s Allowance. For example, if the person you care for currently claims Disability Living Allowance and is reassessed for Personal Independence Payment, if they do not qualify under the new criteria you will no longer be eligible for Carer’s Allowance.

If you are in this situation, the new mitigation scheme means that you will receive a supplementary payment to cover the financial loss for a period of one year. This will give you time to seek expert advice and submit fresh benefit claims if appropriate.


Personal Independence Payment

Personal Independence Payment is the new benefit replacing Disability Living Allowance for people aged 16-64. This means that if you are aged 16 and over and are making a new claim, it will be for Personal Independence Payment.

People aged 16-64 years old who are already claiming Disability Living Allowance will be gradually reassessed for Personal Independence Payment.


Benefit cap

Carers NI and Carers UK have successfully campaigned for carers who receive Carer’s Allowance to be exempt from the benefit cap.


Universal Credit

Carers who qualify for Universal Credit (which is replacing means-tested benefits and tax credits), and who meet certain conditions, will receive a carer element as part of their Universal Credit award.


Mitigation scheme

The Northern Ireland Executive has put in place a mitigation scheme. This includes a range of measures to support people who may be financially worse off due to the changes to the benefit system. If you are eligible the payments should be made automatically – you don't have to apply.


  • To find out more, download the Carers NI briefing on welfare reform
  • Need advice or information about caring? Talk to Carers NI on 028 9043 9843 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • To stay up-to-date on the latest news and information about caring, join Carers NI
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