Support for mortgage interest payments (SMI)

Support for mortgage interest (SMI) is a DWP loan that can help with interest payments on:

  • a mortgage for the home you live in

  • loans for essential repairs, improvements or disability adaptions to your home

SMI is a loan not a benefit. You usually have to repay the loan with interest if you sell the property or transfer ownership to someone else.

If you cannot afford your mortgage payments

Read our guide: how to deal with mortgage arrears.

The breathing space scheme could pause eviction, repossession or debt recovery while you get free debt advice.

Who can apply for an SMI loan

You must get one of the following benefits to qualify:

  • pension credit

  • income support

  • jobseeker's allowance

  • employment and support allowance

  • universal credit - but only if you have no earned income

Normally the homeowner applies for the loan.

You can apply for a loan if the homeowner is not paying the mortgage and you’d be at risk of eviction if the mortgage is not paid.

For example, if your former partner owns the home but has moved out and is not paying the mortgage and you cannot make other arrangements.

How much you can get

You can get help with your interest payments on mortgages up to:

  • £200,000 if you are working age

  • £100,000 if you get pension credit

The DWP works out how much you can get and makes the monthly payments direct to your lender.

A standard interest rate is used to calculate the amount of interest you can get help with. The rate is currently 2.09%.

SMI payments will not cover your full monthly mortgage interest payments if your actual interest rate is higher than this.

Waiting times for SMI payments

You cannot get SMI payments for the first 9 months of a benefits claim if you or your partner are working age.

You can get SMI payments straight away if you claim pension credit.

Talk to your lender if you cannot pay your your full mortgage instalment while you're waiting for SMI payments to start.

They should delay repossession action if your finances are due to improve.

Get advice and discuss your options

A debt adviser can explain all your options if you are finding it hard to pay your mortgage.

Only a regulated financial adviser can tell you if an SMI loan is suitable for you.

Find a regulated financial adviser on unbiased.co.uk

How to apply

If you do not get a qualifying benefit, you need to apply for:

You will be asked about your mortgage to check if you qualify for an SMI loan.

Jobcentre Plus or the Pension Service will confirm the details with your lender.

You have to sign a loan agreement form if you agree to take out the loan.

If you’re already claiming a qualifying benefit, contact the office that pays it to ask about applying for an SMI loan.

How you repay the loan

You do not have to make regular repayments on an SMI loan so it should not affect your monthly budget.

The loan payments are secured on your home. The current interest rate is 1.4%. This rate may change on 1 January and 1 July every year.

You usually have to repay the loan and the interest when you:

  • sell the property

  • transfer ownership to someone else

If you die and you do not live with a partner, the loan and interest have to be paid back by whoever inherits the property. 

If you live with a partner, they will not have to repay the loan when you die but will have to pay it back if the property is sold.    

If there is not enough equity in your home to repay the full amount, the remaining balance is written off.

You can also choose to pay the money back at any time. The minimum amount you can pay back is £100.


Last updated: 14 July 2022

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