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The Impact of Welfare Reform in Northern Ireland

In 2013 NICVA's Centre for Economic Empowerment commissioned a study to estimate the economic impact of implementing the UK Government's welfare reforms in Northern Ireland.

Christina Beatty and Steve Fotherfill from the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) undertook the study replicating their methodology used for Scotland and for Great Britain. This earlier research was funded by Sheffield Hallam University, the Financial Times and the Scottish Parliament.

The first 5 tables summarise the effects of welfare reform changes in Northern Ireland, such as the number of households or individuals adversely affected and their net loss, the total and average estimate net loss per year for every working-age adult in the population, etc. and compares these figures with GB regions and local government districts (based on similar work by Beatty and Fothergill).

The impacts focussed on are:

  • Housing Benefit (HB) - Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rule changes
  • Housing Benefit - Under-occupation charge (colloquially known as the 'bedroom tax')
  • Non-dependent deductions
  • Household Benefit Cap of £26,000
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA) replacment by Personal Independence Payments (PIP)
  • Incapacity Benefits (IB) replacement by Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Child Benefit (CB) freeze and reduction 
  • Tax Credits: Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Working Tax Credit (WTC)
  • 1 percent uprating of most working-age benefits

The tables in the Appendix disaggregate the impact of each of these benefit changes by Northern Ireland Local Government District (the former 26 LGDs prior to 2015).

The full report, giving context and full details data sources and methods applied, is available in the additional resources.

Data and Resources

Dataset Info

These fields are compatible with DCAT, an RDF vocabulary designed to facilitate interoperability between data catalogs published on the Web.
Christina Beatty and Steve Fothergill (CRESR)
Modified Date
Release Date
Open Definition
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Area (WKT)
POLYGON ((-8.16926 55.4436, -5.08667 55.4436, -5.08667 53.8702, -8.16926 53.8702, -8.16926 55.4436))
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Location
Northern Ireland
Local Government District
Data Dictionary
The tables in this dataset break down the Welfare Reform changes into 9 categories: 1. Housing Benefit: Local Housing Allowance (LHA): Rules governing assistance with the cost of housing for low-income households in the private rented sector 2. Housing Benefit: under-occupancy reduction: New rules governing the size of properties for which payments are made to working age claimants in the social rented sector (widely known as the ‘bedroom tax’). 3. Incapacity benefits (inc. ESA): Out-of-work payments to men and women of working age with health problems or disabilities, including Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and its predecessors Incapacity Benefit, Income Support on grounds of disability, and Severe Disablement Allowance. 4. Disability Living Allowance (PIP): Payments intended to help offset the additional financial costs faced by individuals of all ages with disabilities, including those both in and out of work. 5. Child Benefit: Paid to households on the basis of the number of children up to age 16 or, if they remain at school or in further education, up to 19. 6. Tax Credits: Payments through the tax system of Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Working Tax Credit (WTC) to lower and middle income households. 7. Non-dependent deductions: Deductions from Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit (Regional Rate Rebate in Northern Ireland) and other income-based benefits to reflect the contribution that non-dependant household members are expected to make towards the household’s housing costs. 8. Household benefit cap: New ceiling on total payments per household applying to wide range of benefits, including Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Carer’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Incapacity Benefit, Income Support and Jobseeker’s Allowance. 9. 1% up-rating: Annual up-rating of value of benefits by 1% (instead of by CPI) for three years (from 2013-14) for main working-age benefits, and for two years (from 2014-15) for Child Benefit and for LHA. Where referred to throughout, an "adult" means a working-age adult i.e. 16-64 years-old.
Contact Name
Bob Harper
Contact Email