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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Potential impact of Bedroom Tax should mitigations cease

The Housing Executive recently launched a quantitative study on ‘The Potential Impact of Bedroom Tax in NI if Mitigations End.’ This study was carried out by the NIHE Research Unit to provide insight into the potential impacts that the Social Sector Size Criteria will have in Northern Ireland if mitigation payments end as scheduled in March 2020. 

The research found limited awareness of the policy position taken by Stormont in response to the introduction of the bedroom tax in 2017 and, consequently, that large numbers of respondents had given little or no thought to how they would deal with this shortfall in benefits if the mitigation measures end, as planned, in March 2020. 

  • 55% of respondents were unaware that mitigation payments were scheduled to end in March 2020

  • 42% of respondents were either unaware or not sure if their household received Welfare Supplementary Payments 

  • 21% of respondents stated that they would stay in their current home and be able to pay the difference; of these, more than half (52%) said they would find the money somehow but it would be a struggle. 

  • 18% of respondents stated that they would stay in their current home but would be unable to pay the difference; of these, almost three-quarters (71%) said they simply did not have the money to pay the difference. 

  • 46% of respondents stated that they had not thought about what steps they planned to take if Welfare Supplementary Payment ends in March 2020.

  • Only 7% of respondents stated that they would take steps to transfer or exchange to a property with fewer bedrooms.

Concerns surrounding affordability

The research found that many respondents would struggle to make up the shortfall between the amount of benefit they receive and the amount of rent they are obliged to pay once mitigations end.

  • More than four-fifths (81%) of respondents stated it would be difficult for them to pay the difference in the actual rent charged and the Housing Benefit/housing costs element of Universal Credit they receive.

  • While almost half of respondents (48%) said they could afford to make up a shortfall of up to £5.00 per week, more than half (54%) said they would struggle to afford up to £10.00 per week and two-thirds (66%) could not afford to make up a shortfall of up to £15.00 per week.

  • Similar proportions (78% and 79% respectively) said they could not afford to pay a shortfall of up to £20.00 or £25 per week.

Getting advice

It will be crucial for tenats to know where they can get assistance if the mitiation package is not extended beyond March 2020 and the Housing Executive surveyed respondents to find out where they were most likely to look for such advice. 

  • More than two-fifths of respondents (41%) said they would use an advice service if they wanted to know more about Bedroom Tax.

  • Almost one-third of respondents (32%) reported that they would go to their Housing Executive Patch Manager

  • Two-fifths of respondents (40%) said that official advice services would be their preferred source of advice

  • More than one-quarter of respondents (29%) stated that their Housing Executive Patch Manager would be their preferred source of advice.

The issues highlighted regarding affordability should the mitigations cease, as well as limited awareness of and plans for the planned end of welfare mitigations, echo the concerns of Housing Rights and the Cliff Edge NI Coalition, a group of over 100 members organisations who are campaigning for continued and strengthened mitigations beyond March 2020. 

 

Tagged In

Benefits, Welfare Reform