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The main purpose of this independent review will be to establish if Discretionary Support is delivering for the people who need it most.

Discretionary Support Independent Review Panel

The Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey MLA, has appointed an independent, expert panel to review the Discretionary Support scheme which provides financial support to individuals in crisis situations in Northern Ireland.

Panel members

The Independent Review panel is chaired by Professor Gráinne McKeever, a professor of Law and Social Justice at Ulster University.

Professor McKeever will work five panel members:

  • Jonny Currie, The Trussell Trust
  • Dr Ciara Fitzpatrick, Ulster University
  • Kevin Higgins, Advice NI
  • Gerry McConville, Falls Community Council
  • Ursula O’Hare, Law Centre NI

Purpose of this independent review

The main purpose of this independent review will be to establish if Discretionary Support is delivering for the people who need it most.

View the panel’s Terms of Reference

Discretionary Support is designed to support people who live in Northern Ireland and are in need of short-term financial help. Assistance may be available if a person is on a low income and they are in an extreme, exceptional or crisis situation.

Awards can be made as either an interest-free loan or a non-repayable grant.

Get more information about the scheme

The panel would like to hear from people who have used the Discretionary Support service and organisations who support people to use the service. We have created a short survey [survey monkey link TBC] to help us understand the experience of applying for a Discretionary Support loan or grant, and how Discretionary Support could be improved.

If you do decide to take part in the survey please have a look at the information document which explains what is involved and how the panel will treat the information you give them.

The survey will be available during July and August 2021.

We would like to hear from you

The panel would like to hear from people who have used the Discretionary Support service and organisations who support people to use the service.

We have created a short survey to help us understand the experience of applying for or receiving a Discretionary Support loan or grant, and how Discretionary Support could be improved.

Take the Survey

The survey will be available during July and August 2021.

You can also contact the panel by email at discretionarysupportreview@communities-ni.gov.uk

Share your experiences

If you make an application for Discretionary Support, you may also be invited to share your experiences of the application and decision process with the panel. You do not have to agree to speak to the panel – any participation will be entirely voluntary.

If you do decide to speak to the panel about your experience please have a look at our information sheet which explains what is involved and how the panel will treat the information you give them.

It is vital that each person or organisation with an interest or view, has their chance to contribute and we look forward to hearing from as many people as possible.

Recommendations for improvement

The panel aims to provide recommendations for improvement to the Minister for Communities by 1 October 2021.