Single people facing £25 housing benefit cut

SINGLE people under the age of 35 are facing a cut of up to £25 a week in housing benefit, Mid-Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone has warned.

In some instances the cuts have already taken hold according to the SDLP Assembly member, who has received a number of calls from constituents on the issue. The entitlement reduction comes as Welfare Reforms are implemented across the province in line with the rest of the UK.

Mr McGlone said the move may result in many being forced out of their homes, something the MLA described as “a deliberate outcome”.

“The Welfare Reforms that the DUP and Sinn Féin dominated Executive are implementing include Conservative Party inspired measures designed to reduce the available support for single people living in a house by themselves,” he said.

“One of those measures is the extension of the shared room rate to apply to applicants under the age of 35. Previously this rate was only applied to those under 25 years of age.

“Annual reviews of existing housing benefit claims for those affected are resulting in massive cuts to the amount they are entitled to receive. The cut has been around a third of the amount received previously.

“In some cases the resulting rental shortfall will force people to seek new accommodation. This is an entirely deliberate outcome.

Mr McGlone is asking anyone affected by the cuts to seek immediate advice.

He added: “Anyone affected by this policy of cutting housing benefit for single people in shared housing should apply immediately for a Discretionary Housing Payment. If approved this should help with the rental shortfall, but it is only available for a limited period of time.

“Unless the Welfare Reforms are properly challenged and changed such measures will continue to implemented and more and more people will find themselves under increasing financial pressure.”