Landlords & tenants in Northern Ireland breath a sigh of relief!
Following discussions with Lord Freud, the Social Security Minister for Northern Ireland has won a number of concessions regarding the welfare reform – the main one being that tenants in Northern Ireland will still be able to have their housing costs paid directly to their landlord.
Aswell as tenants still being able to have their housing costs paid directly to their landlord, unlike the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland tenants will also be able to split UC payments between two parties in a household.
Households will also be able to receive UC payments twice a month rather than once; as on the UK mainland.
Social Security Minister, Nelson McCausland said: “I have been in negotiations with Lord Freud on alternative payment arrangements for Universal Credit in Northern Ireland. Throughout those discussions I have sought his agreement that the Universal Credit IT system will be enhanced to accommodate these alternative payment arrangements.
“I can now report that I have secured the agreement of Lord Freud to these changes so that when Universal Credit goes live in Northern Ireland, the housing cost element of Universal Credit will automatically be paid directly to landlords rather than the claimant. This is an important change as it will help to avoid rent arrears, with all the implications that can have for claimants and their families.
“I am also pleased to advise that in special circumstances, where necessary, we will be able to split the Universal Credit payment between the two parties in a household and make the Universal Credit payment twice every month rather than monthly.”
Universal Credit is set to launch in Northern Ireland in April 2014 – 6 months later than the rest of the UK.
Mr McCausland said this timing was “to allow for the development of the necessary IT to support these alternative payment arrangements and for the necessary guidance and procedures to be put in place.
Adding: “This timing has the added advantage that issues raised and lessons learned across other parts of the UK in the early stages of the roll-out can be reflected into local implementation planning and delivery.”
Since the first announcement about the introduction of welfare reform via Universal Credit, in October 2010, Landlord Referencing Services has been extremely sceptical and worried about the ramifications for not only landlords and tenants but also the country’s economy; if tenants have no choice of direct rent payment to their property provider.
At Landlord Referencing we believe tenants should have the right to decide if their rents are paid directly to their landlord – to help those on low incomes avoid debt and arrears.
Relevant Landlord Referencing news blogs:
Universal Credit Explained in Full
Not only do we predict that the abolishment of direct payments will significantly increase:
- rent arrears
it also threatens the delivery of affordable housing in high-value areas.
As well as using Credit Unions, Associations and Accreditations, we believe that the only true way to be able to reduce the amount of tenants in arrears and at the same time protect our good tenants from bad neighbours is for all UK landlords to network with one another.
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