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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

New plans to alleviate impact of welfare reform

The DUP has proposed a new fund to help those transitioning from Disability Living Allowance on to the new Personal Independence Payment.  

First Minister Peter Robinson has put the party’s proposals to Secretary of State Teresa Villiers.   Mr Robinson believes that these measures will mean many of the most vulnerable people in Northern Ireland will “come out of the transfer to PIP with the same level of payments or better off."

Assisting tenants affected by bedroom tax

The First Minister also outlined plans to alleviate the financial pressure on tenants who are allocated larger properties than they are seen to need and are, therefore penalised by the Bedroom Tax.  These plans are estimated to cost £3 million a year to enforce and will be in addition to the measures to protect tenants affected by welfare reform which have already been provisionally agreed. These measures include

  • transitional protection for those who will be worse off under Universal Credit (UC)
  • direct payment of housing benefit to landlords
  • twice monthly payments of UC
  • a range of payment options for households receiving UC
  • ensuring that the Bedroom Tax does not apply to existing social tenants for, at least, the first 5 years
  • reducing the maximum sanction period from 3 years to 2 years

Mr Robinson referred to this system as an “enhanced style of welfare reform which protects the most vulnerable “

Social Development Minister meets with church leaders

Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey met with leaders of the four main churches at Stormont on Monday 21st October.  Churches were concerned that welfare reform has become a “political football” and that there was a risk that the concerns of the most vulnerable in society would not be heard.  

Church leaders have encouraged the minister to make his proposals public so that those likely to be affected by welfare reform can properly understand the proposed changes.

Welfare reform and the NI Assembly

The Welfare Reform Bill has not yet been enacted by the NI Assembly and remains the subject of debate.  Housing Rights Service regularly receives calls from members of the public confused worried about the bedroom tax and how this will affect them.  We have also had calls from private tenants who are worried that they, too, will see cuts to their housing benefits as a result of this change.

Our advice website, funded by the Housing Executive, contains information about the bedroom tax and how it has been implemented in England, Scotland and Wales. 

Tagged In

Benefits, Welfare Reform, Policy, NI Assembly