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028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

DSD briefs Social Development Committee on allocations plans

Housing Rights Service played host to the Committee for Social Development today.  During the meeting, Dr Heloise Brown and Paul Price from the Department of Social Development (DSD) summarised public responses to recent proposals to reform the allocation system for social housing and answered members' questions on this issue. 

DSD officials reaffirmed that the aim of the research into the current system was to ensure that the allocation system is fair in light of current scarcities in housing stock and that the system delivers for those in most need of assistance. 

Clearing up confusion around supported housing

Alex Maskey, MLA and Chair of the Committee noted that constituents are often confused about who is responsible for providing accommodation for people with special needs and that the Committee is concerned about the possibility of someone falling between two departments; DSD and the Department for Health, Social Services and Public Safety.  DSD representatives said that responses to the research paper showed a preference for supported housing to exist outside of the general housing stock to enable better access to this resource for those in need of it. 

Choice based lettings - appropriate in Northern Ireland?

Fra McCann, MLA asked if choice based lettings was a suitable model for Northern Ireland, bearing in mind the particularly complex issues which can affect communities here.  Mr McCann wondered if any consideration had been given to the support that tenants may need to prepare them to move to a new area or what support existing residents may need to adapt to new residents.  

DSD stated that there was substantial support for CBL among respondents to the research, but acknowledged that the pilot schemes remain under review. 

Mr McCann went on to state that the most pressing issue relating to social housing in Northern Ireland was one of supply and not how that supply is allocated. 

Offers - how many offers and what is reasonable?

Individuals and organisations who responded to the research consultation were asked whether they supported changing the number of offers an applicant is entitled to receive from 3 to 2. Whilst all social landlords who responded were in support of this measure, other respondents objected to it.

Committee member Stewart Dickson, MLA, asked for guidance on what constituted a reasonable offer.  DSD suggested members contact the Housing Executive for guidance on this issue.  Readers can find out more about how to discern if an offer is reasonable on our housingadviceNI website, funded by the Housing Executive. 

Exploring the work of Housing Rights Service

After the meeting's close, committee members joined Janet Hunter, Director of Housing Rights Service on a tour of our offices to find out more about the different projects and services offered to the public by Housing Rights Service. 

Tagged In

Research, Social Tenancies, Policy, NI Assembly

This article was written on 23 October 2014. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.