“Housing Benefit changes could see 6000 extra homeless.” - McCann
Commenting on today’s Prayer of Annulment debate in the Assembly on the issue of Single Accommodation Rate for Housing benefit Sinn Féin's housing spokesperson and member of the Social Development Committee Fra McCann MLA (West Belfast) said:
“It is regrettable that the DUP, UUP and Alliance combined to defeat this motion to annul proposals to implement new regulations that will reduce by half the Housing Benefit entitlements for thousands of vulnerable single people. The proposed changes to Housing Benefits for single people under age 35 could result in a chronic increase in homelessness. Increasing the age range from 25 to 35 for those having to share accommodation could see up to 6000 presently in receipt of the Single Accommodation Rate have their benefits reduced by 50% leading to undue hardship and resultant health problems!
“Evidence has shown a clear relationship between unemployment and rates of suicide. Studies indicate that unemployed people are two to three times more at risk of suicide. The people who will lose their homes as a result of these proposals are already at greater risk of suicide. The loss of their home will increase that risk even more.
“Men under the age of 35 will be the most adversely affected; the same social group that carries the highest risk of suicide here in the north. Many of those who will lose their homes do not have the kind of family ties that might support them in a crisis. The figures for women are less but, for those affected, the loss of their home will be just as traumatic.
“All of the political parties seem to be in agreed opposition to this legislation but some fear that to break what is referred to as parity will risk the British Treasury seeking to recover the difference elsewhere in our Budget. We should not allow the British government to exercise the so called ‘parity’ rule in a manner in which disadvantages the most vulnerable in our society. Parity must mean parity of outcome! One size fits all payments do not deliver parity when the higher fuel, food and energy costs here are factored into the equation.” CRÍOCH