RLA welcomes government U-turn on direct payments in Northern Ireland

by Property 118

9:25 AM, 25th October 2012
About 8 years ago

RLA welcomes government U-turn on direct payments in Northern Ireland

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RLA welcomes government U-turn on direct payments in Northern Ireland

RLA welcomes news that the Department for Work and Pensions will allow direct payments of housing benefits to be made to landlords in Northern Ireland.

However Ministers at the DWP have objected to the implementation of the same policy across the rest of the UK, arguing that payments to tenants will promote financial responsibility.

Following discussions with the UK DWP Minister, Lord Freud, Northern Ireland’s Social Security Minister Nelson McCausland confirmed the policy in a statement to members of the Assembly. He explained that “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.”

This comes after the release of a report from the National Housing Federation highlighting the 86% increase in the number of working people now claiming housing benefit since 2009. Comments from tenants responding to this confirm that some are having to lie to their landlords about receiving housing benefit given their reluctance to take on benefit recipients, because of past difficulties with getting paid.

Direct payments to landlords has been shown to provide them with greater assurance that the rent will be paid and so increases the amount of accommodation available to benefit recipients giving them better choice.

Commenting on the developments, Chris Town, Vice Chairman of the Residential Landlords Association said:

“With 9.1% of all rent in the private rental sector being in arrears this is a situation which is simply not sustainable for either tenant or landlord.

“Both parties in the Coalition before the general election pledged to introduce direct payments to landlords. Organisations working with tenants including Shelter, Citizens Advice and the Money Advice Trust all support tenants having the choice to have their rent paid directly to landlords.

“The Government should get out of the way and trust tenants to know what is best for them. If it’s good enough for Northern Ireland it should be good enough for the rest of the country.”


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Comments

8:51 AM, 26th October 2012
About 8 years ago

That Lord Freud's on another planet. He thinks if people get paid direct, they will automatically become good at juggling money-Ignorant fool. I wish that was the case, because then all my tenants would be brilliant, & I’d be on the beach in Spain every month.

But as it is, we are all different, some are better at financing than others. 90% of my tenants (I specialise in Housing Benefit (HB)) will readily tell u, they aren’t great with money. Since direct payment, some have got in debt & drug problems-They didn’t have drug habits before LHA gave them this £1000 for 2 months.

In life, we will always have so many that are on Housing Benefit. It’s how it is & always will be. To think paying them one BIG lump sum is suddenly going to make them finance wizards is cloud cuckoo land. They’re gonna’ be spending more than they should with all this cash in one go, & then when food, gas & electric is needed towards the end of the month, they aren’t going to have it, prompting more doorstep loans.

As it now, if they run out money, which my tenants do all the time, at least next week, a payment should be coming, not a whole month later.

We all know working people who are good with money, because they get paid monthly, they sometimes run out money before next payday. Never mind HB tenants who don’t have any money spare to play around with.

I’ve took top Housing Benefit managers out with me-on the ground-into their houses to see how they live, & they say ‘Wow, it certainly is different to what we see in the Council offices’.

Why does the water companies have deals with the DWP to take water bills direct from people’s benefit?

Why does the Gas/Electric companies have pay as u go meters-Because people can’t afford the lump sum at the end of the month-Even though we know these meters are more expensive overall-But people can sometimes get this £15pw, but not the £60pm. These companies because they are in the real world, learned the hard way, SOME people can’t afford that £60pm, but they can manage to get the £15pw, so the gas company brought in a provision for that-At least then, the tenant got their gas to cook/heat etc. & the gas company got the money is, so it didn’t go out of business. What if Lord Freud was in charge of these companies-Would he want only once a month payments on them too?

Food is going to be the real crucial thing here. People will genuinely run out of food before next pay day. And no money to buy it.

Why did years go, late 1980’s (I don’t know the exact dates), Landlords stop taking DSS tenants & the Bed & Breakfasts bill for the DSS was massive, so the Govt introduced direct payment to Landlords. 20+ years later, the Govt making the same mistake-Do they not learn?

As it is, there’ not enough HB voters to scare the Govt, & the working people are all for benefit cuts. But one day these people may need HB. Ask these workers if they’d like to pay no Tax, & there’d be a majority to get rid of Tax too-Even though it would be wrong. We need HB to paid direct to Landlord to safeguard tenants & kids homes & prevent homeless & to give the tenants a bit of choice where they want to live.

Time will tell, let’s hope these pilot pathfinder Council’s bring up the debts to the forefront, before it starts to hit the rest of us.

Lord Freud wants us all to be the same. Unfortunately life ain’t like that. Some are better than others at certain things & financing. If he wants to change that, change it when they are 5 years old, ingrain it in them then, not when they are 35.

Devon Landlord

22:37 PM, 26th October 2012
About 8 years ago

I agree with many of Mick's sentiments. Many tenants do not want the housing benefit paid to them because they now that they will be tempted not to use the money to pay their rent. This starts a downward spiral and the landlord, with his/her own payments, is the one to suffer. We can overcome the prodlem and also assist the tenant in money management if the Government insisted that all benefit payments were made to the tenant through the Tasker Payment Service or a credit union. In this way payment to a landlord would be indirect, overcoming the absurd notion of non direct payments. Other bills could also be ring fenced and landlords would continue to be happy to take benefit claiments as tenants.
Now, we assume that Lord Freud is a cleaver chap, after all he is making a lot of money out of us as a Minister in what is a rather cushy number with House of Lord perks too, so why is he not seeing the point that so many of us, probaly Conservative, Voters have been making for some time now. May be we should all refuse to take benefit claimants in the PRS and then see how quickly he is replaced by a listening person. Simply believing that giving a huge chunk of cash every month to a benefit claimant makes them a wizzard with their finances is stupid. What can be done in Ulster can be done in England too, and if not why not. We are still a United Kingdom so lets us have parity in the matter of direct payments too.
Do not think that I am anti housing benefit claimants, far from it. Most are excellent people and by not giving them the choice of having their housing benefit paid direct is also against their human rights is it not, because it is denying them a choice. If the tenant wants the LHA payment and proves that it is being used appropriately, then fine, we do not have an issue, but when it all starts to go pear shped it is indicative that it is not working and the landlord's right to be paid for the service he provides is being abused. Landlords have rights too!


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