DUP urged to ensure benefit cuts don't affect social housing
Commenting on the Tory/DUP deal announced today, Nicola McCrudden, CIH director for Northern Ireland, said: "It is disappointing that there has been no agreement to revisit the welfare policies that will impact on people's ability to afford a decent home.
"The DUP wanted to scrap the bedroom tax at the UK level in 2015, when a hung parliament looked likely. However more than 33,500 people in Northern Ireland are now affected by the on-going tax, which penalises social housing tenants with spare bedrooms.
"The Northern Ireland Executive would currently need to commit £21 million each year to continue the bedroom tax supplementary payments – which fully top-up tenants' losses under the tax – after they end in March 2020. So it still makes sense to remove the tax at the UK level to reduce our local costs.
"If the Executive does not continue these supplementary payments, affected tenants will lose up to 25 per cent of their housing benefit. This will undoubtedly lead to rent arrears, eviction and homelessness."
Ms. McCrudden added: "The bedroom tax is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the impact that welfare changes will have on rented housing. Plans by the Conservatives to further cut housing benefit from April 2019, including a new bedroom tax for pensioners, will also hit people hard.
"These plans could also mean fewer social homes are built since rents help to repay social housing providers' loans for new housebuilding.
"The DUP has to date voted against welfare changes at Westminster that impact badly on vulnerable people – the party should ensure its support for effective social security policies continues over the life of this parliament."
For more information please contact Justin Cartwright, CIH policy and public affairs manager on +44 28 9077 8222, +44 7824 304 351 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors:1. The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards. Our goal is simple – to provide housing professionals with the advice, support and knowledge they need to be brilliant. CIH is a registered charity and not-for-profit organisation. This means that the money we make is put back into the organisation and funds the activities we carry out to support the housing sector. We have a diverse membership of people who work in both the public and private sectors, in 20 countries on five continents across the world.