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23 September, 2021 Open access

Payments made under Northern Ireland’s High Street Coronavirus Financial Assistance Scheme to be disregarded for social security purposes

New statutory rule makes provision to award every adult £100 via a pre-paid cash card to spend on the high street this autumn

New regulations have been issued in Northern Ireland that confirm that payments made under the High Street Coronavirus Financial Assistance Scheme will be disregarded for social security purposes.

In force from 24 September 2021, the High Street (Coronavirus, Financial Assistance) Scheme Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 (SR.No.268/2021) introduce a new scheme of financial assistance to mitigate the effect of the exceptional circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic by making a ‘Spend Local’ pre-paid card worth £100 available to every person resident in Northern Ireland aged 18 or over on 25 October 2021.

NB - the new scheme is being introduced as part of the Minister’s Economic Recovery Action Plan published by the Department for the Economy on 25 February 2021.

In relation to the impact of payments made under the scheme on social security, the schedule to the regulations includes at paragraph 13 -

'Payment to be disregarded for social security

13. The stored value of a pre-paid card shall not be taken into account in considering a person’s entitlement to a Social Fund payment, a discretionary support award or a payment under any of the following social security benefits -

(a) income support; (b) jobseekers allowance; (c) employment and support allowance; (d) housing benefit (working age); (e) housing benefit (state pension credit age); (f) universal credit; or (g) state pension credit.'

SR.No.268/2021 is available from