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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Housing and welfare in the Queen's speech

Yesterday's Queen's speech detailed the new Conservative majority government's proposed legislative programme for parliament.  The speech referred to a number of significant changes which will impact on housing and welfare law, policy and practice.

Benefit changes

The speech outlined plans for a Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill.  The speech outlined several proposals which intend to deliver on the Prime Minister's stated objective of ensuring that people are "always better off after a day at the office or factory than they would have been sitting at home".  Measures include reducing the benefit cap to a total of £23,000, freezing benefit rates for two years from 2015/16 and creating a new youth allowance for unemployed people aged 18-21.  The youth allowance will have a much stronger work related conditionality from the outset, with claimants being required to attend an apprenticeship, training or community work placement after 6 months. 

The speech also confirmed the government's intentions to remove automatic entitlement to housing support for 18-21 year olds, although no detail has been provided on how exactly this will happen. Shelter's report Slipping through the Safety Net, published in April of this year, looks at the possible repercussions of cutting housing benefit for this group.  The Institute for Fiscal Studies suggests almost 20,000 young people in this age group are in receipt of housing benefit, although there is no detail on why these people are no longer living at home.  3,776 single young people aged 16-25 presented as homeless to the Housing Executive in 2013/14.  Any proposals to limit housing benefit to this age group will need to consider what safety net will be available to those young people who can't continue living at home. 

Right to rent checks to be extended

Last year's Immigration Act introduced a requirement that landlords check the immigration status of tenants and ensure tenants have a "right to rent" before granting a tenancy.  Rather than roll this new requirement out nationally, the government piloted the scheme in certain areas of England.  Yesterday's speech confirmed that this scheme will now be rolled out across the UK.  There is also a commitment to "make it easier to evict illegal migrants". 

The full speech is available from Gov.uk.

Tagged In

Benefits, Minority Groups, Welfare Reform, Policy, Landlord

This article was written on 28 May 2015. 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.