NIFHA disappointed at Lords defeat
Members of the House of Commons voted Wed 1 February to reject the Lords’ proposal calling for social tenants with one spare room to be exempt from new ‘under-occupancy penalties’ linked to housing benefit.
The Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA) believes that if implemented, this 'bedroom tax' will cause severe financial hardship and distress for large numbers of families in social housing in Northern Ireland, many of whom are already hard-pressed. It is estimated that approximately 40% of social tenants in Northern Ireland could be affected.
Cameron Watt, of NIFHA, said:
"This is a severe blow to thousands of families in social housing across the UK, many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet, especially as there is a lack of alternative affordable housing.
"It is unfair to penalise people for under-occupying their homes when they have nowhere else to move to.
"We contacted all Northern Ireland MPs and MLAs ahead of the Commons debate outlining why we believe the Lords position should be supported. We are disappointed with last night’s outcome as the amends were hard-won.
"We are also disappointed the Coalition Government has chosen to invoke financial privilege procedure to curtailing Parliamentary scrutiny and any further amendment of the Welfare Reform Bill by the Lords."
Despite this outcome, NIFHA will continue its efforts to oppose this bedroom tax and influence the regulations in Northern Ireland that will give shape to Welfare Reform Bill proposals, and subsequent implementation in Northern Ireland.
Notes for editors:
- There are 31 registered housing associations in NI, all of which are members of NIFHA.
- Housing associations manage around 36,000 units of rented accommodation - over a quarter all social housing in NI – Source: NIHE
- In addition 21,000 households in NI have received assistance purchasing their own homes through Co-ownership Housing
- Since 1991/92, 6,639 additional homes were provided through private finance from Housing Associations – Source: DSD
- Collectively, Housing Associations have taken out over £626.2million of private finance to assist with social house building, in Northern Ireland since 1991
- In 2011 the NIFHA Tenant Satisfaction Survey found 86% of tenants were satisfied/highly satisfied with the services provided by their housing associations. Some 84% of tenants felt the rent charged represented good value for money and 90% of housing association tenants stated they were satisfied with their accommodation.