Initially, the Department undertook two consultations to inform how an interim rate rebate replacement scheme could be quickly developed to accommodate the early introduction of Universal Credit.
It had been envisaged that Universal Credit would be introduced in Northern Ireland during 2014 or 2015; however, due to delays nationally, it is now expected to roll out during 2016 at the earliest. The previous consultations considered modifications to the current rate rebate rules that operate under housing benefit so that Universal Credit claimants would not be disadvantaged.
The new timetable for Universal Credit means that it should be possible to go directly to a long term solution for assessing entitlement to rate rebate; one which continues to help those most in need, promotes the universal credit principle of making work pay, is more efficient and provides value for money. The work completed on the previous two consultations on an interim scheme has helped inform the options for a long term rate rebate scheme.
The purpose of the third consultation was to seek views on proposed options for a long term rate rebate scheme together with illustrative impact assessments and modelling. It also seeks views on a new approach to some of the other entitlement conditions and for streamlined administrative processes.