Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA.
COMMUNITIES Minister Deirdre Hargey says her department will be pausing the recovery of benefit overpayments and loan repayments from a number of Social Security benefits for three months, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Announcing the suspension, Minister Hargey said: “This suspension of debt recovery activity will provide financial easement to people with benefit overpayment related debt or an outstanding loan balance. The change means many people will see an increase in the amount of money they receive in benefits during these three months.”
Overpayment and loan deductions will cease from the following benefits:
Disability Living Allowance
Employment Support Allowance
Industrial Injuries Benefit
Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
Personal Independence Payment
Widow’s Parents Allowance
Widow's Pension Allowance
Many activities will cease immediately but others may take longer to implement.
Recovery of all Social Fund and Discretionary Support loans will be suspended.
Customers currently making repayments through a Bank Standing Order may wish to contact their bank to cancel their arrangement, however, this will need to be set up again following this pause period. For customers repaying through other means, the Department has already written to employers asking them to stop deductions from salaries and all recoveries by Direct Debit will also be suspended for three months.
Minister Hargey concluded: “I remain committed to doing everything I can to ensure that those most in need and the most vulnerable receive all the financial help and support they can during this difficult time This suspension of the recovery of benefit overpayments and loans will go some way to easing the financial difficulty that many find themselves in during this period of uncertainty.”