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Housing Rights speaks at launch of welfare change report

Housing Rights’ Director Janet Hunter has spoken at the launch of the CIH Welfare Reform Group’s report, on the impact of welfare changes on rented housing in Northern Ireland, at the Long Gallery in Parliament Buildings.

Welfare Reform Group report

The paper was overseen by the CIH Welfare Reform & Housing Forum, which included members from Housing Rights, the Housing Executive, housing associations and other stakeholders.

The report details key welfare changes which will pose a challenge for future rented housing, including the ongoing operation of the Benefit Cap and “bedroom tax”; the planned extension of the LHA rate of Housing Benefit to social housing; and the ongoing freeze of Housing Benefit in the private rented sector. The paper’s key recommendations are:

  • Government in NI should undertake a fundamental review of LHA in light of its planned extension to social housing, including consideration of revising or reducing the number of Broad Rental Market Areas
  • The mitigation of the Benefit Cap and bedroom tax should be extended beyond March 2020

Universal Credit will have massive impacts in Northern Ireland

Speaking at the event, Janet said:

“We cannot underestimate the scale of the challenge which Welfare Reform presents; we cannot take money from the poorest pockets in society without it having a deep impact. The changes to date have had significant effects – not just the Benefit Cap and “bedroom tax”, but also restrictions to Support for Mortgage Interest, which will disproportionately affect the large number of “marginal homeowners” who are struggling to pay for their homes in Northern Ireland. The impending roll-out of Universal Credit, meanwhile, will have massive impacts on claimants across all demographics and housing tenures. We need to harness the energy in the housing sector to tackle the serious challenges posed to Northern Irish housing by Welfare Reform.”

Keeping up to date on welfare reform in Northern Ireland

You can access the report in full here.

If you want to know more about Welfare Reform, you can purchase our Professional Resource on the topic. We are also delivering training courses, focused specifically on the housing impacts of Universal Credit in Derry/Londonderry on 24th August, and Belfast on 30th August. You can read more about these courses and book your place online.

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Welfare Reform