NI social housebuilding threatened by new benefit cuts
Social housebuilding in Northern Ireland is being threatened by benefit cuts planned by the UK Government, according to a new report.
The report, from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Northern Ireland, warns that plans by the Conservatives to further cut housing benefit, including a new measure dubbed the 'new bedroom tax for pensioners', will make housing affordability worse.
Today's report, which is being launched at Stormont with the All Party Group on Housing, says that the planned cuts would not only increase the risk of rent arrears, eviction and homelessness, but they would also have a knock on effect for the ability to build new social homes.
The report recommends that urgent action be taken to introduce changes in Northern Ireland that lessen these impacts.
Nicola McCrudden, CIH director for Northern Ireland said: "The Conservative government is planning a raft of changes to housing benefit that will put people’s homes at risk and threaten the ability to build new social housing in some areas.
L-R: Eileen Patterson, chair of CIH welfare changes and housing forum; Nicola McCrudden, director of CIH Northern Ireland; Nichola Mallon MLA, chair of NI Assembly All Party Group on Housing
"Currently tens of thousands of working-age social housing tenants are protected against the bedroom tax – however these additional changes will see pensioners affected for the first time and single people under 35 strongly impacted. Unless action is taken, tenancies will be put at risk.
"These plans could also mean fewer social homes are built because rents go towards repaying housing association loans for new housebuilding.
"The absence of the Stormont executive isn’t helping – we need a devolved administration up and running to prepare for these legislative changes. It is vital to ensure we keep roofs over people’s heads and that we scale up the level of social housebuilding that we desperately need."
Nichola Mallon MLA, chair of the NI Assembly All Party Group on Housing said: "We have a housing crisis. This latest round of Tory cuts will only deepen that crisis and hit some of our most vulnerable hardest. When tenants of working age were facing and fearing the bedroom tax, the Executive took action to protect them and their families.
"Now pensioners are being hit with the bedroom tax. These pensioners and all those affected by this latest cut to housing benefit deserve and need an Executive that will take urgent action to protect them."