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When everyone has a home

Housing and debt helpline for Northern Ireland – 028 9024 5640

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Laura, an adviser at Housing Rights, recently helped a vulnerable client to stay in her home. The client, Mary, was an introductory tenant facing possession due to rent arrears. Laura explains how she helped Mary to stay in her tenancy and to secure a Housing Benefit backdate to offset the arrears.

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Benefits, Practical tips, Adviser

Chancellor for the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, has announced a £1.5 billion package to address some of the concerns which have been raised in relation to Universal Credit.

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Benefits, Welfare Reform, Affordability

In January 2017 the temporary absence rules for Housing Benefit changed. Since then, there has been a four-week limit placed on absences outside Northern Ireland. If a person is absent from Northern Ireland for more than four weeks, that person is no longer entitled to receive Housing Benefit, unless the absence is for specific reasons.

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Benefits, Welfare Reform, Affordability

The Government has responded to a House of Lords Committee report on financial exclusion. In its response, it has rejected Committee recommendations to remove the requirement to remove waiting days from Universal Credit for all claimants and to allow direct payment of housing costs to landlords in England and Wales.

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Benefits, Outside NI, Welfare Reform

The Prime Minister has announced that the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) cap will not be applied to social housing.

In Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday 25th October, the Prime Minister announced that the capping of social rents at the LHA rate will be scrapped:

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Benefits, Welfare Reform, Policy

Regulations converting Support for Mortgage Interest to a loan have recently been passed. We take a look at how the new payments of SMI will operate for claimants.

Loans for mortgage interest

All payments of SMI made on or after 6th April 2018 will take the form of a loan.

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Benefits, Repossession, Welfare Reform, Affordability

Local charity Housing Rights is urging older people who get help paying the interest on their mortgage (Support for Mortgage Interest SMI)  to seek advice as they receive notification of the benefit changing to a loan. 

The Department for Communities will be sending out letters notifying older people about the change this weekend.  Claimants will also be contacted by phone in the coming weeks in advance of the benefit ending.

Ursula Toner, Advice Services Manager with Housing Rights said:

Universal Credit claimants will typically wait six weeks before receiving their first payment. While those who have applied immediately after leaving employment may be able to sustain themselves during this six-week period with their final payment of wages.

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Benefits, Welfare Reform

Universal Credit will be introduced in Northern Ireland on 27 September. People who are claiming Universal Credit will have to make a separate application for help with their rates. This assistance will be made available under a new “rates rebate” scheme, administered by Land and Property Services and accessed through NI Direct.

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Benefits, Welfare Reform

Housing Rights, together with NIFHA, the Council for Homelessness in NI, Shelter NI, the Chartered Institute of Housing, the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action, Advice NI and Supporting Communities NI, is calling for the rollout of Universal Credit in Northern Ireland to be urgently reviewed to prevent issues that have arisen in England, Scotland and Wales being repeated in Northern Ireland.

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Benefits, Welfare Reform, Policy, Affordability

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