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Inadequate Housing Benefit payments creating Poverty Trap

15 February, 2007

Sinn Féin Newry Armagh Assembly election candidate Micky Brady has called for an urgent review of Housing Benefit for private sector tenants to combat the emergence of a new form of 'poverty trap.'

Mr Brady said:

"For many people in the Newry area the main source of housing is the private rented sector, however this is presenting major financial hardship for those reliant on social security benefits and people on low wages. Rents in the local private sector have risen dramatically in the past two years and in my experience one of the biggest problems facing tenants in receipt of Housing Benefit is the struggle to pay the rent.

"One of the main reasons behind this growing struggle for private tenants is the inadequate levels of Housing Benefit, which do not reflect market rents in most areas. Many private tenants that I have spoken to are having to find between an extra £20 and £40 a week from social security benefits to bridge the gap left by poor housing benefit levels. Many tenants are neglecting many other household bills and spending less on food and fuel in order to pay their rent.

"There is an urgent need to review Housing Benefit levels all over the north, the picture emerging in the Newry area is a bleak one. The only people who are benefiting from this growing 'poverty trap' are private landlords. In 2007 people should not have to reduce spending on fuel and food or use other social security benefits to pay their rent." ENDS

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