The recovery of benefit overpayments and loan repayments of a number of social security benefits is to be suspended for three months in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey confirmed the suspension.

She said, “This suspension of debt collection activity will provide a financial facility for people with debt related to overpayment of benefits or an unpaid loan balance.

“The change means that many people will see an increase in the amount of money they receive in benefits during those three months.”

Overpayments and loan deductions will cease for the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • Attendance allowance
  • Care allowance
  • Disabled allowance
  • Employment support allowance
  • Indemnity for industrial accidents
  • Disability compensation for work-related accidents
  • Income support
  • Job search allowance
  • Maternity allowance
  • Pension credit
  • Personal independence payment
  • State pension
  • Widow’s Parents Allowance
  • Widow’s pension allowance

Many activities will cease immediately, but others may take longer to implement.

Collection of all Social Fund loans and discretionary aid will be suspended.

Customers who are currently making refunds via a standing bank order may wish to contact their bank to cancel their arrangement, however, this will need to be reconfigured after this break period.

For clients repaying by other means, the Department has already written to employers asking them to stop payroll deductions and all direct debit collections will also be suspended for three months.

Minister Hargey added, “I remain committed to doing all I can to ensure that those most in need and most vulnerable receive all the financial assistance and support they can during this difficult time.

“This suspension of the recovery of overpayments and loans will go some way to alleviate the financial difficulties many find themselves in during these uncertain times.”

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