Housing Rights Service welcomes the publication of the draft strategy. Through membership of the Financial Capability Partnership (FCP), Housing Rights Service is represented on DETI’s Financial Capability Forum and has been involved in the strategy’s development. Housing Rights Service is keen to continue to work with DETI and the FCP on the development and implementation of the strategy.
This response looks at the vision and priority areas for action contained within the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Investment's Financial Capability Strategy.
Housing Rights Service is particularly pleased that Financial Inclusion has been identified as a priority within the strategy. However, it is very disappointing that none of the practical areas for action relate specifically to promoting Financial Inclusion.
We are strongly of the opinion that the NI Executive must take the lead in identifying the issues and working with stakeholders, such as local financial institutions and housing providers, to ensure its citizens are financially included.
Although Housing Rights Service supports the Government’s aim to simplify the rules governing rate liability in the private rented sector, we nevertheless do not believe the proposals as presented in this consultation paper will provide any significant clarification. In our view, the proposals only go a small way to simplify these complex arrangements i.e. they remove only one element regarding the criterion relating to the frequency of rent payments.
Even if the proposals are adopted, rates collection will remain difficult to administer and, in our view, confusion will still exist in regard to liability in rented accommodation. Given the complex nature of rating legislation, we believe a better outcome could be achieved by DFP having more discussions with key stakeholders to sort out the confusion that exists on who is liable for paying rates.
We hope in the future, where landlords default on their arrangements to pay rates as set out in tenancy agreements, tenants will no longer be prosecuted for rates liability where they can prove the payment of rates. We welcome the commitment to review this issue and to consider a long term solution to the problem of rates collection in the landlord sector.