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When everyone has a home

Housing and debt helpline for Northern Ireland – 028 9024 5640

March 2016

A roundup of the questions answered by the Minister for Social Development in March. 

Homelessness

To ask the Minister for Social Development for the definition of rough sleepers, as used by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.  Mr Steven Agnew, Green Party AQW 54898/11-16

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NI Assembly

The benefits cap is to be introduced to Northern Ireland from 31st May, 2016.

What is the benefits cap?

The cap is contained in the Welfare Reform (Northern Ireland) Order 2015, and places a limit on the total amount of benefits working-age households can receive. Benefits which count towards the calculation of the cap are:

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Benefits, Money Matters, Welfare Reform

Faith, an adviser with our Community Housing Advice Partnership, recently helped to have a young mother’s housing benefit payments reinstated.  The Community Housing Advice Partnership offers a support service to partner agencies who work in the voluntary sector and need expert advice to deal with complex housing cases.

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Benefits, Minority Groups, Practical tips, Adviser

We've just added a new video to our video library on housingadviceNI.  The housingadviceNI website is funded by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and aims to provide information in plain English to help people find the answers to their housing problems. 

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Practical tips

The Northern Ireland High Court of Justice decision in The Woolwich v Boyd [2015] NICh 16 , issued by Mr Justice Deeny in the High Court Chancery Division, deals with the issue of the extent of the discretion of the court in an application for a stay on an order for possession of a home; and how this discretion is exercised.

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Repossession, Case law, Legal

Housing Rights has recently responded to a Housing Executive consultation on their draft Rural Policy Proposals.

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Minority Groups, Policy, Equality, Affordability

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has launched its 2016 report, ‘Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion in Northern Ireland.’ The report draws on the latest data on household income, labour force participation, workers’ earnings and education, to show the extent and nature of poverty in Northern

Support for Mortgage Interest (‘SMI’) is a payment available to people receiving Income Support; income-based Jobseekers’ Allowance; income-based Employment & Support Allowance; and Pension Credit. These payments are vital in allowing low-income households to maintain their mortgage repayments and sustain their homes. 

The next few years will see several changes to the SMI scheme, specifically:

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Benefits, Repossession, Homelessness, Legal

The Department for Social Development is keen to hear more from tenants who are currently renting a home from a private landlord or through a private agent in Northern Ireland.  The Department is currently carrying out a comprehensive review of the private rented sector.  

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Private Tenants Forum, Private Tenancies, Policy, NI Assembly