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McCausland welcomes new exemptions to Housing Benefit reform

Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland has welcomed a Westminster move to make additional provision in the change planned to Housing Benefit under Welfare Reform.
Thursday, 14 March 2013

The change commonly known as Under-Occupancy will restrict the amount of Housing Benefit payable to social rented sector tenants based on the number of bedrooms actually required.

The announcement by Secretary of State for Work and Pension, Iain Duncan Smith, means that approved foster carers, and tenants who have adult children currently serving in the Armed Forces will be allowed an extra room. Additionally other priority groups are now eligible to receive financial support for housing costs including people whose homes have had disability adaptations, and those with long-term medical conditions that create difficulties in sharing a bedroom.

Speaking following his most recent meeting with DWP Ministers in London today, Minister McCausland said: “This is a welcome move and goes someway towards addressing some of my concerns around the Under-occupancy measure which I have shared with Westminster about Housing Benefit Reform.

“In my meeting with Lord Freud today I again took the opportunity to outline the specific needs of the people of Northern Ireland around this and other proposed reforms, including the implementation of Universal Credit.”

Notes to editors:

1. Under-Occupancy will allow one bedroom for each person over 16, or couple living as part of the household. Bedrooms will also be allowed for children living in the household although some may be expected to share depending on their age and gender.

2. The additional exemptions will mean that people who are approved foster carers will be allowed an additional room, whether or not a child has been placed with them or they are between placements; so long as they have fostered a child, or become an approved foster carer in the last 12 months.

3. Media enquiries to DSD Communications Team on 028 9082 9456 or email press.office@dsdni.gov.uk. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.