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The Universal Credit Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016

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CHAPTER 3HARDSHIP

Conditions for hardship payments

111.—(1) The Department must make a hardship payment to a single claimant or to joint claimants only where—

(a)the claimant in respect of whose sanctionable failure the award has been reduced under Article 31 or 32 of the Order (higher-level or other sanctions) is aged 18 or over,

(b)the single claimant or each joint claimant has met any compliance condition specified by the Department under regulation 101(2)(a)(i),

(c)the single claimant or either joint claimant completes and submits an application—

(i)approved for the purpose by the Department, or in such other form as it accepts as sufficient, and

(ii)in such manner as the Department determines,

(d)the single claimant or either joint claimant furnishes such information or evidence as the Department may require, in such manner as it determines,

(e)the single claimant or each joint claimant accepts that any hardship payments that are paid are recoverable,

(f)the Department is satisfied that the single claimant or each joint claimant has complied with all the work-related requirements that they were required to comply with in the 7 days preceding the day on which the claimant or joint claimants submitted an application in accordance with sub-paragraph (c);

(g)the Department is satisfied that the single claimant or each joint claimant is in hardship, and

(h)the daily reduction rate in regulation 108(1) applies for the purposes of the reduction in respect of the claimant under Article 31 or 32 of the Order (higher-level or other sanctions) .

(2) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(g) a single claimant or joint claimants must be considered as being in hardship only where—

(a)they cannot meet their immediate and most basic and essential needs, specified in paragraph (3), or the immediate and most basic and essential needs of a child or qualifying young person for whom the single claimant or either of the joint claimants is responsible, only because the amount of their award has been reduced—

(i)under Article 31 or 32 of the Order (higher-level or other sanctions), by the daily reduction rate set out in regulation 108(1), or

(ii)by the daily reduction rate prescribed in regulations made under section 5B(5A), 6(2A) or 8(2A) of the Social Security Fraud Act (Northern Ireland) 2001(loss of benefit in case of conviction, penalty or caution for benefit offence, loss of benefit for commission of benefit offence and effect of offence on benefits for members of offender’s family) which is equivalent to the rate referred to in paragraph (i),

(b)they have made every effort to access alternative sources of support to meet, or partially meet, such needs, and

(c)they have made every effort to cease to incur any expenditure which does not relate to such needs.

(3) The needs referred to in paragraph (2) are—

(a)accommodation;

(b)heating;

(c)food;

(d)hygiene.

The period of hardship payments

112.—(1) A hardship payment is to be made in respect of a period which—

(a)begins with the date on which all the conditions in regulation 111(1) are met; and

(b)unless paragraph (2) applies, ends with the day before the normal payment date for the assessment period in which those conditions are met.

(2) If the period calculated in accordance with paragraph (1) would be 7 days or less, it does not end on the date referred to in paragraph (1)(b) but instead ends on the normal payment date for the following assessment period or, if earlier, the last day on which the award is to be reduced under Article 31 or 32 of the Order (higher-level or other sanctions) or under section 5B(5A), 6(2A) or 8(2A) of the Social Security Fraud Act (Northern Ireland) 2001 (loss of benefit in case of conviction, penalty or caution for benefit offence, loss of benefit for commission of benefit offence and effect of offence on benefits for members of offender’s family).

(3) In this regulation “the normal payment date” for an assessment period is the date on which the Department would normally expect to make a regular payment of universal credit in respect of an assessment period in a case where payments of universal credit are made monthly in arrears.

The amount of hardship payments

113.  The amount of a hardship payment for each day in respect of which such a payment is to be made is to be determined in accordance with the formula—

where A is equal to the amount of the reduction in the single claimant’s or joint claimants’ award calculated under regulation 107 (amount of reduction for each assessment period) for the assessment period preceding the assessment period in which an application is submitted under regulation 111(1)(c).

Recoverability of hardship payments

114.—(1) Subject to paragraphs (2) and (3), hardship payments are recoverable in accordance with section 69ZH of the Social Security Administration (Northern Ireland) Act 1992 (recovery of hardship payments etc.)(1).

(2) Paragraph (1) does not apply in relation to any assessment period in which the single claimant, or each joint claimant, falls within Article 24 of the Order (claimants subject to no work-related requirements)—

(a)by virtue of regulation 89(claimants subject to no work-related requirements - the earnings thresholds), or

(b)where regulation 89 does not apply to a single claimant or to joint claimants, that claimant or the joint claimants’ monthly earnings are equal to or exceed the amount that a person would be paid for 16 hours per week at the hourly rate in regulation 4 of the National Minimum Wage Regulations, converted to a monthly amount by multiplying by 52 and dividing by 12.

(3) Hardship payments cease to be recoverable where, since the last day on which the claimant’s or the joint claimants’ award was subject to a reduction under Article 31 or 32 of the Order (higher-level or other sanctions) —

(a)a single claimant has had monthly earnings that are equal to or exceed—

(i)their individual threshold, or

(ii)where the claimant has no individual threshold, the amount that a person would be paid for 16 hours per week at the hourly rate in regulation 4 of the National Minimum Wage Regulations, converted to a monthly amount by multiplying by 52 and dividing by 12, or

(b)joint claimants have had combined monthly earnings that are equal to or exceed—

(i)the sum of their individual thresholds,

(ii)where only one of the joint claimants has an individual threshold, the amount of the individual threshold,

(iii)where neither of the joint claimants has an individual threshold, the amount that a person would be paid for 16 hours per week at the hourly rate in regulation 4 of the National Minimum Wage Regulations, converted to a monthly amount by multiplying by 52 and dividing by 12,

for a period of, or more than one period where the total of those periods amounts to, at least 6 months.

(1)

Section 69ZH was inserted by Article 109(1) of Order.

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