What benefit is being abolished in April?


Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) will no longer exist as a benefit for new or existing claimants from 6 April 2018.

Claimants will instead be invited to apply for a loan if they want to continue to be supported.

The loan is repaid upon the sale or transfer ownership of the claimant’s home, if there is enough equity in the property.  Interest is applied to the loan and is added to the total to be repaid when the home is sold or transferred.  However, a claimant can choose to pay back the loan when they start work, if they are in a position to do so.

If you get SMI as a benefit, it will stop being paid from 5 April 2018.

Claimants will get a letter before then about the SMI loan and other options available.

However, only one in 20 households currently claiming SMI has signed up for its replacement loan system.


While owning a home may indicate positive household finances, homeowners face many similar financial issues as renters.

Half of all households in poverty are led by homeowners; this is equivalent to 2 million households, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).

Homeowners in poverty are over four times more likely to pay 35% or more of their income on housing costs than those not in poverty.

The scale of the issue varies across the UK, with twice as many of Northern Ireland’s mortgaged households behind on their mortgage repayments compared to the whole of the UK – 14% and 7%.

Northern Ireland has the highest rates of poverty among homeowners across the UK. This includes a total of 22% of outright owners and 11% of mortgaged households in poverty before housing costs.

Find out more about help with housing costs.

Read our Support for Mortgage Interest guide. This will be updated in April when the changes take place.