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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Department publishes annual report on welfare reform and mitigation payments

As required by the Welfare Reform Order, the Department for Communities has published its report on the operation of elements of the welfare reform mitigations package for the year 2017/2018

Detail on lost supplementary payments

Many people in Northern Ireland believe that the bedroom tax is not operational here. This is largely due to assurances that tenants in the social sector would not be affected by a reduction in benefit because of the availability of welfare supplementary payments. These payments offset the cut to Housing Benefit experienced by the majority of social housing tenants who have more bedrooms than they are seen to require. A similar payment, known as an Administrative Welfare Supplementary Payment, is available to social tenants in receipt of Universal Credit who see a reduction in their housing costs element because they live in a property perceived to be too large for their needs. 

While these payments are welcome, they do not completely mitigate against the bedroom tax as recipients can lose the payment if they move to another social tenancy and continue to underoccupy the new tenancy by the same or a greater number of bedrooms. While the legislation allows for an exemption for tenants who move under a management transfer, many tenants who transfer or arrange a mutual exchange are likely to see a reduction in their benefit as a result of the move. 

The Department's report states that a further 54 Housing Benefit claimants lost entitlement to a welfare supplementary payment in the six months to September 2018 because they moved to another social tenancy. Previous reports stated that 121 claimants had already lost their entitlement to this additional payment, meaning more than 170 households in Northern Ireland are feeling the impact of the bedroom tax. 

As of September 2018, no Universal Credit claimants lost their entitlement to an Administrative Welfare Supplementary Payment. 

Housing Rights has recently co-authored a report with Advice NI and the Law Centre (NI), which considers the approaching cliff edge for social security claimants when the mitigation package is scheduled to end in 2020. The report identifies the impact if these protections were to cease and highlights further areas where protections are required post 2020.

Tagged In

Benefits, Welfare Reform, Policy

Author

Etain Ní Fhearghail