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Overview of the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme

The Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme consists of a basic payment, called Supplementary Welfare Allowance, and other financial supplements for certain expenses you may not be able to meet, including emergency situations. It is administered by the Department of Social Protection's representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer) in your local health centre.

Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) is a weekly payment for people that have insufficient means or no income. For example, SWA can be paid to you while the Department of Social Protection is processing your claim for another payment.

Rent Supplement is a payment to help with the cost of rent for people living in privately rented accommodation.

Mortgage Interest Supplement is a payment to help with the cost of mortgage interest repayments. From 1 January 2014, the Mortgage Interest Supplement scheme is closed to new entrants and no new applications will be accepted from this date. This measure does not affect current claimants immediately (people who were getting Mortgage Interest Supplement before 1 January 2014). The scheme will be wound down for existing claimants over a 4-year period.

Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance is a payment to help with the cost of uniforms and footwear for children at school.

Diet Supplement is a payment to help with the cost of a special diet prescribed by your doctor or hospital consultant.

Heating Supplement is a payment to help people who have extra heating needs with the cost of heating their home. For example, people that are ill or have a disability.

Exceptional Needs Payment is a single payment to help meet essential, once-off, exceptional expenditure, which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. For example, the payments can be for special clothing for a person who has a serious illness, bedding or cooking utensils for someone setting up a home for the first time or costs in relation to funerals.

Urgent Needs Payment is a payment to people in emergency situations. For example, in the case of a fire or flood, you may get a payment to help with the immediate cost of food and clothing.

Appealing a decision

If you are unhappy with the decision of a Department’s representative on your SWA application, you can appeal the decision to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office. The Social Welfare Appeals Office deals with appeals relating to basic SWA and some SWA supplements but does not decide on appeals relating to Exceptional or Urgent Needs Payments or Heating Supplements. You can ask for decisions on these payments to be reviewed by the SWA Reviewing Officer within the Community Welfare Service.

Page updated: 10 January 2014

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    Department of Social Protection representatives (formerly known as Community Welfare Officers (CWOs)) are responsible for the day to day administration of the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme. Find out about their role and responsibilities.

Contact Us

If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.