Support for mortgage interest payments (SMI)

If you claim certain benefits, support for mortgage interest (SMI) payments can help you with mortgage interest and interest payments on loans for improvements or repairs.

Support for mortgage interest (SMI)

Support for mortgage interest (SMI) helps homeowners with the costs of mortgage interest payments and some loans for repairs and improvements to the home.

You can only get help to pay the interest on your mortgage or loan.

SMI is paid as part of a claim for:

  • income support
  • income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • income-related employment and support allowance
  • pension credit

You might also get help with the cost of your mortgage interest payments if you claim universal credit.

SMI is currently paid as a benefit. The payment is made direct to your lender. 

From 6 April 2018 SMI is only offered as a loan. It must be repaid when you die or sell your home.  

Find out more about SMI loans from the Money Advice Service

Claim for help with interest on other loans

You may also be able to get help to pay the interest on loans taken out for:

  • essential repairs or improvements to your home – for example for insulation, repairing dangerous faults or adapting your home if someone in your household is ill or disabled
  • buying your ex-partner's share in your home if you have separated

Loans for essential repairs or improvements may be covered even if you take them out after you claim a qualifying benefit.

You won't get help to pay off the loans themselves.

Find out more about help to deal with debts.

How to claim support for mortgage interest (SMI)

SMI is part of your claim for any of the following benefits:

  • income support
  • income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • income-related employment and support allowance
  • pension credit

You will be asked about your mortgage and housing costs when you make your claim. 

Your lender has to confirm the details of your loan. Jobcentre Plus or the Pension Service will contact them about this.

Call Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688 to claim working-age benefits

Call Pension Credit claim line on 0800 99 1234 to claim pension credit

Waiting times for SMI payments

SMI payments are usually made direct to your lender after a waiting period.

You won't have a waiting period if you claim pension credit.

You have to wait 39 weeks before you get SMI if you claim:

  • income support
  • income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • income-related employment and support allowance

Get advice on how to talk to your lender if you fall into arrears while you are waiting for SMI payments to start. 

Jobseeker's allowance: SMI payments limited to two years

If you receive jobseeker's allowance (JSA) you can only get support for mortgage interest for up to two years.

There is no time limit if you’ve been claiming JSA since 5 January 2009 or you receive income support, pension credit or income-related employment and support allowance.

Find out more about dealing with mortgage arrears.

Interest rates used to calculate SMI 

The DWP uses a standard rate of interest to calculate the help you get with your mortgage interest. 

SMI won't cover your full monthly mortgage interest payment if your actual interest rate is higher than the standard rate of interest.

The standard rate of interest is:

  • 2.61% from 18 June 2017
  • 3.12% from 6 July 2015

Check for any changes to this rate.

How much of a mortgage is covered by SMI

You can usually claim help with interest payments on loans up to:

  • £200,000 if you're of working age
  • £100,000 if you receive pension credit

If you claimed SMI as part of another benefit in the 12 weeks before you claimed pension credit, you may still be able to claim help on loans up to £200,000.

Support for mortgage interest will not repay any of the capital you originally borrowed or pay towards any investment linked to your mortgage (such as an endowment policy, pension or ISA).

Reduced payments for large or costly homes

Any payments you receive may be reduced if your home is considered to be more expensive or larger than you need.

Get advice from a welfare benefits adviser if you're told that deductions are being made. It may be possible to show that it's not reasonable for you to move somewhere smaller or cheaper.

Get advice if you're separated and you might receive help with mortgage payments from your ex-partner or spouse. Check with an adviser how these payments should be made. They might affect the amount of benefit you're entitled to.

Use Shelter's directory to find a housing adviser

Housing benefit

You can't claim housing benefit to pay your mortgage. Housing benefit only covers rent payments.

If you bought your home through a shared ownership scheme, you can get housing benefit to help pay the rent on the share you don't own.

Find out more about housing benefit.

Get help and advice

Contact our local Shelter advice centre or Citizens Advice if you need help with your claim.

Many of our local services have advisers specialising in welfare benefits issues as well as housing.

Use Shelter's directory to find a housing adviser

Last updated 24 May 2017 | © Shelter

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