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When everyone has a home

Housing and debt helpline for Northern Ireland – 028 9024 5640

April 2014

The Northern Ireland Housing Bulletin which is produced each quarter by the Department for Social Development contains information on a range or areas including:

Housing Rights Service has advisers working in each of the 3 prisons in Northern Ireland.  A key way to prevent homelessness on release is to secure housing benefit for a prisoner’s existing home.  One of our advisers, Edel, recently had a case where she was able to secure housing benefit for a client on remand, even though he hadn’t had a chance to actually move into the property at the time of his arrest.

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Adviser

Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) Findings[1] published last month revealed that household incomes, poverty rates and the labour market have all worsened in Northern Irelan

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Social Tenancies, Policy, Affordability

A safety lobby group is urging the government to introduce mandatory five-yearly safety checks of electrical installations and appliances in the private rented sector (PRS). Electrical Safety First (ESF) – the charity formerly known as the Electrical Safety Council - believes a UK wide requirement for such safety checks in all private rented homes would reduce confusion around best practice and provide a degree of parity with gas safety, which landlords must check every year.

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Private Tenancies

As part of its ongoing work on social housing reform, the Department for Social Development (DSD) has produced a Research and Analysis Brief to inform future housing structures. The paper was recently submitted to the Social Development Committee for consideration. Nicola McCrudden summarises the key issues and conclusions from this paper and outlines next steps in the main reform areas of:

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Social Tenancies, Policy

In today’s economic climate, affordability can be a common reason for persons presenting as homeless. Many private rented tenants are finding it increasingly difficult to find enough money to cover their housing costs; even with the help of Local Housing Allowance.

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Legal

On April 1, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) took over regulation of 50,000 consumer credit firms, from credit card providers to lenders offering high-cost short-term borrowing on the high street and online.

The FCA’s aim is to protect consumers, ensure the industry remains stable and promote healthy competition between financial services providers.  It has rule-making, investigative and enforcement powers that are used to protect and regulate the financial services industry.

New research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found that Northern Ireland families have suffered a dramatic drop in their income following the economic downturn.  Overall, almost 400,000 people live in poverty in Northern Ireland.

Household incomes, poverty rates and the labour market have all worsened in Northern Ireland in the last five years - in each case, this deterioration has been greater than in Great Britain (GB).

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Welfare Reform

New regulations came into force on 1 April 2014 limiting an EEA national’s right to access Housing Benefit (HB) (1).  The implementation of the Housing Benefit (Habitual Residence) Amendment Regulations (NI) 2014 follows a number of government measures to limit access to means-tested benefits for nationals of EEA countries, including limiting access to income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA(IB)) only to EEA migrants who

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Legal