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The Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey MLA, has appointed an independent panel to carry out a review of the Discretionary Support scheme. They have been asked to identify areas of improvement and to make recommendations to the Department for Communities for policy change.
The panel are considering different aspects of the scheme including:

  • The policy intent of Discretionary Support and options for policy change.
  • Operational delivery of Discretionary Support and options for improvement.
  • Reviewing the current Discretionary Support eligibility criteria and the current use of an Annual Income Threshold and other related issues.

The panel is keen to speak directly with people who have experience of using the current service to help them to understand Discretionary Support from a user’s perspective.  There are a number ways that individuals can share their views with the panel:

  1. As part of a group discussion, speaking with panel members and other people with experience of Discretionary Support
  2. During a one-to-one interview with a panel member, either online, by phone or in person
  3. Through an online survey (Discretionary Support Review – Discretionary Support Review (
  4. The panel are also interested in hearing the views of the women’s sector, particularly if you have supported an applicant to apply for financial assistance from Discretionary Support.  The panel will be arranging a number of focus groups for sector representatives to attend.

The Review Team would like to hold a focus group in a Women’s Centre during September.  If you think you could get a group of women together to discuss the issues with Discretionary Support please get in touch with Siobhán at as soon as possible. 

Please also encourage any women you know that have experience with Discretionary Support to complete the online survey at the link above.