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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Social housing allocation consultation underway

The Department for Communities has released its formal proposals to improve the process used to allocate social housing. This review of the allocations system was launched in 2013, at which stage a research paper set out recommendations.

The proposals hope to achieve five key outcomes

  1. A greater range of solutions to meet housing need;
  2. An improved system for the most vulnerable applicants;
  3. A more accurate waiting list that reflects current housing circumstances;
  4. Those in greatest housing need receive priority, with recognition of their time in need’ and
  5. Better us of public resources by ensuring the list moves smoothly.

In his introduction, Permanent Secretary for the Department for Communities Leo O’Reilly acknowledges the need for more social homes to be built, while reiterating that the measures proposed in the document will give applicants more choice and help the waiting list move more effectively.

Headline proposals

The consultation contains 20 proposals. Those which are likely to cause most discussion include:

  • Introducing an independent, tenure-neutral housing advice service for Northern Ireland;
  • Allowing NIHE to meet its statutory duty to homeless applicants by providing housing in any tenure, further utilising the private rented sector as a way of meeting housing need;
  • Reducing to two the number of offers to which a social housing applicant is entitled from three;
  • The removal of the award of intimidation points from the selection scheme;
  • Ceasing the award of “interim accommodation” points to homeless applicants who have been in NIHE-arranged temporary housing for at least six months;
  • Introducing a banding system for applicants to allow for better recognition of the time an applicant has spent in housing need;
  • Aligning the bedroom size criteria used for allocations with that used in social security legislation;
  • Broadening applicants’ choice of area by removing the requirement to designate two areas of choice on their applications;
  • Adopting a new allocation system, separate to the Housing Selection Scheme, for specialist accommodation, including sheltered accommodation and wheelchair-standard properties.

Responding to the consultation

The deadline for responses is Thursday 21 December 2017.

Interested parties can respond via the Department for Communities website, by email or by writing to: Social Housing Policy Team; Department for Communities; Level3, Causeway Exchange; 1-7 Bedford Street; Belfast, BT2 7EG.

The Department will be holding a number of public events to facilitate discussion on this topic. 

The consultation document, and supporting materials, can be found on the Department for Communities website.

Tagged In

Social Tenancies, Policy


Etain Ní Fhearghail

This article was written on 29 September 2017. 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.