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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Further benefit cuts put homes at risk

Cuts in the help provided to homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments come into place later this week. Local charity Housing Rights is concerned this could put homes at risk and is urging anyone who may be affected to get in touch.

Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) is a means-tested benefit for those in receipt of certain income related benefits who are unable to pay their mortgage.  From 18 June 2017, the interest rate used to calculate how much help homeowners get falls from 3.12% to 2.61%. 

The impact of this change is likely to be more acute in Northern Ireland where local house prices have not recovered to the same extent as in Britain. This means more homeowners will be in “negative equity”, struggling to pay their mortgage and more likely to be on SMI.

Ursula Toner, Advice Manager with Housing Rights commented:

“We know that many local people are struggling to pay their mortgage.  This benefit reduction may tip some homeowners into a crisis situation that could put their home at risk. We would urge anyone who is concerned about cuts to their SMI payment to get in touch with us on 028 9024 5640 for free independent advice.”

A borrower with a £100,000 mortgage with 15 years left to pay will see their SMI payment drop by over £40 a month. To avoid repossession homeowners will need to make up this shortfall. Those with suspended possession orders on their homes are likely to be particularly vulnerable to this cut.

Housing Rights offer a mortgage debt advice service on behalf of the Department for Communities.  Last year the service assisted over 1100 households. 

Ms Toner continued:

“I would encourage people not to put off dealing with mortgage debt and contact Housing Rights for advice as early as possible.  Losing your home is not inevitable.”

People worried about the reduction in help with housing costs or about keeping up with payments on any loan secured on their home can contact Housing Rights on 028 9024 5640. Online advice and a video about the changes is available at www.housingadviceni.org 


For further information contact Claire at Housing Rights on 90 267925

Notes to editors:

  • Housing Rights is the leading specialist provider of independent housing advice in Northern Ireland.  Established in 1964 the charity works to improve lives by tackling homelessness and housing problems.
  • Last year the organisation provided advice and assistance on over 42,000 housing issues.
  • Housing Rights also provides emergency representation at Court.
  • Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) is available to those on certain income related benefits. Those who qualify for SMI get help paying the interest on up to £200,000 of your loan or mortgage. This is normally paid direct to the mortgage lender after a 39 week waiting period.