Households are in danger of falling even deeper into housing poverty over the forthcoming months, according to local housing advice charity Housing Rights.
With the withdrawal of government financial support measures introduced at the start of the pandemic coupled with soaring living costs, it is becoming more difficult for households to manage, with many accruing debts in order to get by.
Many families who are already in a vulnerable position will feel the impact of the £20 a week cut to universal credit payments. The temporary increase of £20 has been a lifeline that has helped toward essential household costs such as rent, food, and utility bills. With 53 per cent of those receiving the extra £20 also getting help to pay their rent, Housing Rights are worried losing this income will put many at risk of homelessness.
Housing Rights Advice Services Manager Brenda Parker said: “We are clearly at a crucial point in our work, and we expect to see an increase in the number of people contacting our helpline struggling to pay for their homes and desperately worried about the future.
“When you’re on benefits £20 is an enormous amount of money. For many of our clients this money is the only thing keeping the wolf from the door, particularly now that they’re facing a winter with soaring fuel bills. Many people don’t know that private renters won’t get their full rent covered by housing benefits – this £20 is helping to prevent homelessness for so many families. There are ways we can help you if you’re struggling, from negotiating with your landlord or lender to applying for extra money and speaking up for you if you have to go to court.
“Our message to people is clear; our services are absolutely free, and if you are in any way concerned about your ability to meet your housing costs then contact us today for advice.”
• Housing Rights provides advice and information on housing and homelessness issues and works on behalf of anyone who is homeless or in housing need. Anyone who is worried about meeting housing costs can contact Housing Rights helpline on 02890 245640, or can chat online with an adviser at www.HousingAdviceNI.org