62 percent of Northern Ireland's social housing benefit claimants to be hit by bedroom tax
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Universal Credit
The bedroom tax will hit nearly two thirds of Northern Ireland's housing benefit claimants in the social sector.
New research by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has shown that 62 percent of working age tenants will be affected by the under-occupation penalty, compared with 33 percent across Great Britain.
The analysis, which was based on the Department for Work and Pensions’ Family Resources Survey, suggests that around 32,000 will be affected, of which about 26,000 are Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) tenants and around 6,000 are housing association tenants.
The bedroom tax, which will come into force in England, Wales and Scotland in April, will see social tenants lose up to 25 percent of their housing benefit if they are deemed to be under-occupying their homes.
The Northern Ireland Assembly will consider the Welfare Reform Bill in March. It is expected to become law in June or July.
The CIH is now proposing an amendment to the Welfare Reform Bill that only introduces the bedroom tax for those under-occupying by two bedrooms or more.
Grainia Long, CIH chief executive, said: “CIH has raised repeated concerns about the bedroom tax – and we have called for changes to the NI Welfare Reform Bill that reflect the different housing circumstances here, particularly with regard to under-occupation.
“While we know that many households across the UK will be hit hard by the bedroom tax, these figures show that Northern Ireland will have a much bigger challenge dealing with under-occupation in terms of the numbers of people affected. This is compounded by the particular profile of social housing and the fact that new development has focused on family homes in recent years. There are simply not enough smaller homes for people to move into. So the vast majority will have to stay put and lose what for many will be a vital part of their income."