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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

New JRF report highlights NI has the highest level of homeowners living in poverty in UK.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), released a report in February 2018 on the circumstances of home-owners and those in poverty in NI. The Home-owners and Poverty in Northern Ireland report reaffirmed concerns that there are higher numbers of homeowners in NI living in poverty than anywhere else in the UK. This article highlights some of the key findings of this recent report. 

Key findings from JRF report:

  • Twice as many of NI’s mortgaged households are behind with their mortgage repayments (14%) compared to the whole of the UK (7%).
  • NI’s households with mortgages had more than three times the incidence of negative equity (11%) than those across the UK (3%). The value of their loans exceeded the value of their homes by an average of £35,293, although indications were that this was more prevalent among professional home-owners than those in poverty.
  • Estimates of mortgage interest rates indicate that NI households with interest-only mortgages pay more for their loans than other areas of the UK. This suggests a higher rate of borrowers overpaying their loans or, more likely, reflects the greater numbers of ‘mortgage prisoners’ in the region – people unable to switch to lenders’ better deals.
  • Working households form the majority of households struggling with mortgage debt and thus are unable to claim any help with housing costs. The current UK safety net is therefore mis-targeted. In addition, as people wait 39 weeks before payment, it is not provided when needed.

Work that needs done in order to help address homeowners and poverty in NI

Due to these findings and the circumstances within NI, JRF have drawn conclusions regarding work that needs done in order to help address homeowners and poverty in NI:

  • Policymakers in NI should examine the targeting of mortgage safety nets and the potential impacts of converting SMI to an equity loan. This is because increased borrowing to remedy mortgage debt may be risky over long periods, not least in the context of lower levels of housing equity. Therefore, from April 2018 claims for SMI should automatically trigger independent housing and debt advice.
  • The region should also support smooth exits from the tenure – through mortgage rescue or assisted voluntary sales depending on vulnerability – if demonstrably unsustainable.
  • To help home-owners manage their circumstances themselves, policymakers should work with lenders to support the porting of mortgages. They should also consider mechanisms to facilitate loan modifications for struggling but sustainable borrowers.

The full report can be read on the JRF website.

The report will be officially launched by JRF at an event in Belfast on the 20 February 2018. Follow us on twitter @HousingRightsNI for updates on the day.

Help and advice for those struggling to pay for their home

Housing Rights housing helpline can offer advice to those struggling to meet their mortgage payment. Call us on 028 90245640 and select option 4 to speak with a mortgage debt adviser. You can also get advice on our website housingadviceNI.org

Tagged In

Research, Policy, Affordability


Sarah Corrigan

This article was written on 19 February 2018. 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.