Bedroom tax could leave Northern Irish tenants with nowhere to go, says expert

Published by Daniel Jones

A number of people who live in social housing in Northern Ireland are living in fear that they will no longer be able to stay in their homes once the bedroom tax is implemented in the country.

Special rapporteur on housing Raquel Rolnik has issued a warning that many people and families will have nowhere to go, as they find they can no longer afford their current dwelling. The bedroom tax is an additional charge for anyone who lives in a property that has at least one spare bedroom they do not use.

This means the only way for single people to avoid the tax is to find themselves a one-bedroom flat, but Ms Rolnik told how there is a severe shortage of these in Northern Ireland.

As a result, she indicated that she believes some residents in the country will have no choice but to pay higher rents for larger homes they do not need, or risk finding themselves on the streets. Managing finances at a time when the tax is imposed and benefits are cut is likely to be tough for many.

Speaking after a meeting with social housing tenants in Belfast, Ms Rolnik said: "It's very, very worrying. I have been hearing issues like people would not be able to eat because much more money they receive will go on rent."

Northern Ireland has yet to introduce the bedroom tax, whereas it is already in place in other parts of the UK. There is currently a political impasse at Stormont, but the country has been told its block grant will be adjusted if it does not impose the tax by January.

The problem in Northern Ireland seems to be that small homes fit for one person are in short supply, with the expert stating: "In Northern Ireland, there is a shortage of one bedroom apartments in social housing stock, they do not exist. People have nowhere to go to."ADNFCR-1645-ID-801636992-ADNFCR

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Published on: September 12, 2013

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