Check if a change affects your SMI
When you report a change that affects your benefits, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will check if your support for mortgage interest (SMI) payments should change too.
They’ll write to tell you if your SMI changes. The money is paid directly to your mortgage lender so you won't see a change on your bank statements.
If your SMI reduces or stops, you’ll need to pay the rest of the mortgage yourself. It's important to continue making your payments - contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you've missed mortgage payments or are not sure what to do.
Work out if your SMI will change
How your SMI will change depends on what change you report about your benefits.
Your or your partner’s income changes
Your SMI might change if your or your partner’s income changes. Income includes money from work or benefits, as well as other things like a lodger.
You’ll get less SMI if your income is more than your:
- ‘applicable amount’ - if you get JSA, ESA or Income Support
- ‘appropriate minimum guarantee’ - if you get Pension Credit
- ‘maximum amount’ - if you get Universal Credit
You can find your applicable amount, appropriate minimum guarantee or maximum amount on the letter that told you how much benefit you’d get. If you’re not sure, ask your nearest Citizens Advice to help you work it out.
If you get Universal Credit and start work
If you or your partner do some paid work, you won’t get SMI for that assessment period. An ‘assessment period’ is the period of time the DWP use to calculate your next Universal Credit payment. Your assessment period usually starts on the same date each month - starting 1 calendar month after the date you submit your claim online or over the phone.
If you stop work and you’re still getting Universal Credit, you can apply for SMI again. Your SMI payments will start straight away as long as you’ve been getting Universal Credit for at least 9 assessment periods.
If your Universal Credit stops, your SMI payments will stop too. You can claim Universal Credit again if your earnings go down.
If you make a new claim for Universal Credit, you’ll usually have to wait 9 months for your SMI payments to start.
You won’t have to start a new waiting period if you’re re-claiming Universal Credit as a single person to replace a joint claim with your ex-partner.
If you’ll struggle to pay the mortgage until your SMI payments start, check what help you can get with your other living costs.
Your benefits change or you’re sanctioned
You'll still get SMI if your benefits are sanctioned.
If your benefits stop because you’re not entitled to them any more, your SMI payments will stop too. You won’t have to pay back your SMI any earlier.
You'll still be charged interest on the SMI loan until you pay it back.
If you get JSA, ESA or Income Support
You might get 4 weeks of extra loan payments if your benefits stop because you’re working more or earning more money. This is known as ‘mortgage interest run-on’.
You don't need to apply for mortgage interest run-on - you'll get it automatically if you're entitled to it.
The extra payments will be paid to your bank account, so you’ll need to pay them to your mortgage lender.
You can check who can get mortgage interest run-on on GOV.UK.
You go bankrupt or make an agreement to deal with other debts
You might need to pay the SMI loan back if you go bankrupt or make a formal agreement to pay off other debts you have - like a trust deed.
The DWP might stop paying your SMI and ask you to pay back any SMI payments you’ve had since 6 April 2018. Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need help working out how to pay your mortgage or the SMI loan.
You leave home temporarily
You might still get SMI payments if you’re going away temporarily - it depends how long you’re away and which benefit you get.
If you get JSA, ESA, Income Support or Pension Credit
You’ll keep getting SMI if you’re planning to move back in less than 13 weeks.
You might also keep getting SMI if you’re planning to move back in less than 52 weeks and you’re away because you’re:
- on a training course or studying full-time and need to pay for 2 homes
- at risk of violence if you stay in your home
- in hospital or somewhere else your doctor has approved for short-term medical care (except a care home)
- in a care home for short-term respite care
- staying with your partner or child while they get care that’s been approved by a doctor
- looking after someone else’s child while they get care that’s been approved by a doctor
- looking after someone else because a doctor says you need to care for them
- in prison waiting for a trial or to be sentenced
- on bail - if you’re staying there because it’s a condition of bail
Contact your nearest Citizens Advice to find out if you can keep getting SMI.
If you get Universal Credit
You’ll keep getting SMI if you’re planning to move back home within 6 months.
If you’ll be away for more than 6 months, you can keep getting SMI if you’re away because:
- you have to move out while essential repairs are done
- you’re at risk of violence if you stay in your home - if you’re planning to move back within a year
You’re moving out of your home
Your SMI will usually stop if you move out. You won’t have to pay back the SMI you’ve already had until you sell the home or give it to someone else.
You'll still be charged interest on the SMI loan until you pay it back.
If you want to buy a new home
If you get Universal Credit, you can get SMI for a new mortgage.
If you or someone in your family gets JSA, ESA, Income Support or Pension Credit, you can get SMI for a new mortgage if you:
- need to move to a home that’s more suitable for a disability
- need to move so a boy and girl can have separate bedrooms - if they’re at least 10 years old
- already have a mortgage for the home you’re moving out of - you’ll get SMI up to
- the amount of SMI you got for your old mortgage
- are getting Housing Benefit when you buy the new home - you’ll get SMI up to the amount of Housing Benefit you were getting
- your JSA, ESA or Income Support is only helping with housing costs - you’ll get SMI up to the amount of JSA, ESA or Income Support you were getting
Someone moves in or out of your home
How your SMI will change depends on:
- which benefit you get
- whether the other person owns the home with you
If they don't own the home with you
Your SMI might change if you get Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support or Pension Credit.
If you get one of these benefits, the DWP will reduce your SMI if you’re living with someone who could pay you rent - like a grown-up son or daughter.
The DWP won't reduce your SMI if a child moves in with you. The DWP doesn’t expect them to pay you rent if they’re:
- under 16
- 16 to 19 years old and in full-time education or training (except university)
If the person who’s moving owns the home with you
If they move out, you might get more SMI if the DWP thinks you’ll have to pay more of the mortgage. Your SMI will stay the same if you were already getting SMI for the whole mortgage or the DWP think the other person should still pay their share.
If the other person is moving in, you might get less SMI if the DWP think the other person should pay more of the mortgage. The other person might be able to get SMI as well as you.
You sell your home or give it to someone else
You have to either:
- move the loan to a new home
- pay back the loan
If you want to move the loan to a new home, tell the solicitor who is helping you with the sale. You must complete the purchase of your new home within 12 weeks of selling your old home.
If you choose to pay back the loan, the DWP will take the money from the sale after the mortgage has been paid. You can’t use the money for anything else until the mortgage and SMI loan have been paid.
If there isn’t enough money left to pay the loan
If there isn’t enough money left after you’ve paid the mortgage and the legal costs of selling your home, the DWP will usually cancel the rest of the debt. It doesn’t matter whether you moved the loan to a new home or agreed to pay it back.
Bobbi owes the DWP £15,000 for her SMI loan. She sells her home for £150,000. She has £120,000 to pay for her mortgage and her legal costs are £20,000.
£150,000 - £120,000 - £20,000 = £10,000
If Bobbi chooses to pay back her SMI loan, she will only have to pay back £10,000. If she chooses to move the loan to a new home, only £10,000 will move with her. In both cases, the DWP will cancel the rest of the loan.
The DWP will only ask for more money if:
- they think you deliberately sold your home cheaply
- you gave your home to someone else instead of selling it
If this happens, the DWP will work out how much money you’d have got from selling your house on the open market - for example through an estate agent. They’ll use that amount to decide how much you still owe them after you pay the mortgage.
If someone inherits your home when you die
They’ll usually have to pay back the SMI loan from the value of the home.
If your partner was living with you and they inherit the home, they won’t have to pay the loan back straight away - it can be paid after they die.
If your SMI reduces or stops
Contact your mortgage lender if you can’t afford the extra payments - it’s better to tell them before you miss a payment.
You should also check if you can reduce your mortgage costs.
You can ask your nearest Citizens Advice to help with budgeting or talking to your mortgage lender.
If you disagree with the DWP’s decision
You can ask the DWP to change their decision. You’ll need to ask for ‘mandatory reconsideration’ - this means the DWP will look at the decision again.
You usually need to contact them within 1 month of the date of the decision.
Who to contact depends on which benefit you’re getting. Find out how to: