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Northern Ireland Housing Executive satisfaction survey released

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive has released its latest report into tenant satisfaction. The Housing Executive surveys tenants each year to establish their level of satisfaction with the service they receive from their landlord. The Continuous Tenant Omnibus asks tenants to indicate their satisfaction with a number of business areas, including

  • the condition, quality and size of the tenant's home
  • the Housing Executive's repairs service
  • contact with NIHE
  • attitudes to local neighbourhoods and estates
  • tenant involvement. 

Tenant feedback is generally very positive, with 87% of tenants indicating an overall satisfaction with the Housing Executive. Those who were dissatisfied pointed largely to difficulties in getting repairs carried out or a lack of satisfaction with the standard of repair work done. 

The survey also asks some questions to provide NIHE with valuable insight into its tenant population, and this year's survey highlights some areas which may be of concern in light of the ongoing changes to benefits and plans to move working-age benefit claimants on to Universal Credit, a digital service. 

Digital inclusion and access to bank accounts

Under Universal Credit, claimants will have to not just make their initial claim online, but also manage and update their claim, report changes, and liaise with their UC work-coach using an online journal system. Failing to update your claim or to keep the Department for Communities informed of your ongoing efforts to satisfy your claimant commitment, the tailored conditionality element that is key to the Universal Credit system, could result in claimants being subject to sanctions and receiving less money. With this in mind, the figures relating to digital inclusion in the Housing Executive's tenant survey are concerning. Only 58% of tenants responding to the survey indicated that they had access to the internet, significantly below the NI average of 80%. The figures are less alarming when broken down by age band, particularly given that Universal Credit is a working age benefit, but it is clear that some work needs to be done to ensure that tenants in Northern Ireland are fully prepared for the move to a digital-based benefits system. 

  • 18% of 18-24 year olds had no access to the internet
  • 14% of 25-44 year olds had no access to the internet
  • 31% of 45-59 year olds had no access to the internet
  • 53% of 60-64 year olds had no access to the internet
  • 76% of over 65s had no access to the internet.

Universal Credit will be paid directly into claimant's bank accounts. While the system can accept post office accounts, the preference is for applicants to have their own bank or building society account into which payments can be made. This is an attempt to replicate working conditions and to ensure that claimants are better prepared for the move into employment and for financial independence. Almost one-tenth of respondents to the NIHE survey said they did not have either a current or savings account. This indicates that there may be an increased need for financial capability advice amongst tenants in order to fully prepare the working-age population for the new welfare system. 

Tagged In

Research, Social Tenancies, Welfare Reform

Author

Etain Ní Fhearghail