The homelessness monitor: Northern Ireland 2020 - Crisis


The homelessness monitor:
Northern Ireland 2020
Suzanne Fitzpatrick, Hal Pawson, Glen Bramley, Jenny Wood,
Mark Stephens, Joe Frey and Lynne McMordie. Institute for Social Policy,
Housing and Equalities Research (I-SPHERE) and The Urban Institute,
Heriot-Watt University, City Futures Research Centre, University of New
South Wales, & UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE).

January 2020
ii   The homelessness monitor: Northern Ireland 2020                                                                                                                            iii

                The homelessness monitor

                The homelessness monitor is a longitudinal study providing an independent
                analysis of the homelessness impacts of recent economic and policy
                developments across the United Kingdom. Separate reports are produced for
                each of the UK countries.                                                            The homelessness monitor:
                This update report provides our account of how homelessness stands in
                Northern Ireland in 2020, or as close to 2020 as data availability allows. It also
                highlights emerging trends and forecasts some of the likely future changes,
                                                                                                     Northern Ireland 2020
                identifying the developments likely to have the most significant impacts             Suzanne Fitzpatrick, Hal Pawson, Glen Bramley, Jenny Wood,
                on homelessness.
                                                                                                     Mark Stephens, Joe Frey and Lynne McMordie. Institute for Social Policy,
                                                                                                     Housing and Equalities Research (I-SPHERE) and The Urban Institute,
                                                                                                     Heriot-Watt University, City Futures Research Centre, University of New
                                                                                                     South Wales, & UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE).

                                                                                                     January 2020
iv   The homelessness monitor: Northern Ireland 2020                                                                                                                                       v

                About Crisis UK                                                                    Acknowledgements

                Crisis is the national charity for homeless people. We help people directly        This report was commissioned by Crisis, and funded by Crisis and the Joseph
                out of homelessness, and campaign for the social changes needed to solve it        Rowntree Foundation (JRF), and our thanks go to Sophie Boobis, Matthew
                altogether. We know that together we can end homelessness.                         Downie and Dr Francesca Albanese at Crisis, and Sue Easton, Gráinne Walsh,
                                                                                                   Darren Baxter and Chris Goulden at JRF, for all of their support with this work.

                About the authors
                                                                                                   We are also extremely grateful to all of the key informants from the statutory
                                                                                                   and voluntary sector agencies who found time in their busy schedules to help us
                                                                                                   with this study. Our thanks also to Katie Colliver for her invaluable assistance with
                                                                                                   editing and formatting.

                Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick, Professor Glen Bramley, Dr Jenny Wood, and          Disclaimer: All views and any errors contained in this report are the responsibility
                Lynne McMordie are all based at the Institute for Social Policy, Housing, and      of the authors. The views expressed should not be assumed to be those of Crisis,
                Equalities Research (I-SPHERE), and Professor Mark Stephens at The Urban           the Joseph Rowntree Foundation or of any of the key informants who assisted
                Institute, at Heriot-Watt University. Professor Hal Pawson is based at the City    with this work.
                Futures Research Centre, University of New South Wales, and Joe Frey is based at
                the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE).

                Crisis head office
                66 Commercial Street
                London E1 6LT
                Tel: 0300 636 1967
                Fax: 0300 636 2012

                © Crisis 2020
                ISBN 978-1-78519-069-8

                Crisis UK (trading as Crisis).
                Registered Charity Numbers:
                E&W1082947, SC040094.
                Company Number: 4024938
vi   The homelessness monitor: Northern Ireland 2020                                                                                                        vii

                Contents                                                     Figures and Tables

                                                                             Chapter 2
                Figures and tables                                    vii    Figure 2.1 	Growth in Real Gross Value Added 2007-17                      5
                Acronyms                                               ix    Figure 2.2 	Median full-time gross weekly earnings in current and         7
                Foreword                                                x                   constant (2018) prices, April 2008 to 2018 (£ per week)
                Executive summary                                      xi    (2008/09-2017/18)
                Key points                                             xi    Table 2.1 	Absolute Poverty, 2008/09 and 2017/18                         11
                Trends in homelessness                                xiii   Figure 2.4 	Median household weekly rent/ mortgage repayment (£)         11
                Economic and policy impacts on homelessness           xvi                   by region/ country, 2017/18
                Conclusion                                            xxi    Figure 2.5	Median private rents as a multiple of median social           13
                                                                                            rents, 2017/18
                1. Introduction                                         1    Figure 2.6     Annual growth in population and households 2017-2041       13
                1.1 Introduction                                        1    Figure 2.7     Annual increase in housing stock, 2009-2018                14
                1.2 Definition of homelessness                          1    Figure 2.8 (a-d)      Housing market activity and affordability           15
                1.3 Research methods                                    2
                1.4 Causation and homelessness                          2    Figure 2.9	Private rent index, January 2015 – March 2019                 19
                1.5 Structure of report                                 2                (January 2015 = 100)
                                                                             Figure 2.10 Social housing applications and allocations                   20
                2. Economic factors that may impact on homelessness    4     Figure 2.11 NIHE Rents (2004/05 – 2017/18) (£ per week)                   21
                2.1 Introduction                                       4
                2.2 The broader economic context                       4     Chapter 3
                2.3 Housing demand and supply                         12     Figure 3.1	Housing Share of Government Expenditure in the UK             39
                2.4 Access to home ownership                          12                 2005/06 –2016/17
                2.5 Access to private rented housing                  18     Table 3.1   Welfare Reform: Mitigation Payment Caseloads                  51
                2.6 Access to social and affordable housing           20     Figure 3.2	Percentage of Properties Below LHA Rate by BRMA               58
                2.7 Key points                                        22                 and Property Type

                3. UK Government and Northern Ireland Executive       24     Chapter 4
                policies potentially impacting on homelessness               Figure 4.1	Northern Ireland statutory homelessness presentations         63
                3.1 Introduction                                      24                  2009/10-2018/19
                3.2 Homelessness policies in Northern Ireland         24     Figure 4.2	Northern Ireland statutory homelessness applications          64
                3.3 Housing policies in Northern Ireland              38                  2009/10-2018/19: breakdown by case assessment outcome
                3.4 Welfare reforms                                   50     Figure 4.3   FDA cases 2018/19: Breakdown by reason for application       65
                3.5 Key points                                        59     Figure 4.4	FDA cases 2009/10 and 2018/19: % change in number             66
                                                                                          resulting from specific ‘reasons for homelessness’
                4. Homelessness incidence and trends                  61     Figure 4.5	FDA cases Q1-Q2 2018/19 where reason for homelessness         67
                4.1 Introduction                                      61                  coded as ‘accommodation not reasonable’ (ANR)
                4.2 Rough sleeping                                    61     Figure 4.6   Presentations 2018/19: breakdown by household type           68
                4.3 Incidence of statutory homelessness               63     Figure 4.7	Presentations 2009/10 and 2018/19: % change in number         69
                4.4 Hidden and wider homelessness risks               70                  of presentations differentiated by household type category
                4.5 Key points                                        78     Figure 4.8	Homelessness temporary accommodation placements               69
                5 Conclusions                                         80     Figure 4.9	Temporary accommodation placements, flow,                     70
                Bibliography                                          84                  Apr-Sep 2018
                Appendix 1 Topic Guide (2019)                         93     Figure 4.10	Temporary accommodation placements, point in time,           71
viii   The homelessness monitor: Northern Ireland 2020                                                                                       ix


                  Figure 4.11	Households containing concealed potential households    72   AHC		     After Housing Costs
                               by tenure, Northern Ireland 2016-18                          ANR		     Accommodation Not Reasonable
                  Figure 4.12	Trends in Concealed Households in Northern Ireland,     74   B&B		     Bed and Breakfast
                               1997-2018                                                    BHC		     Before Housing Costs
                  Figure 4.13	Household Representative Rates by Selected Age Groups   75   BRMA		    Broad Rental Market Area
                               in Northern Ireland and UK, 1992-2018                        DfC		     Department for Communitiies
                  Table 4.1    Sharing Measures for Northern Ireland and UK, 2012      76   DLA		     Disability Living Allowance
                  Figure 4.14	Household Overcrowding by UK country, 2010, 2013        77   EHS		     English Housing Survey
                               and 2016                                                     EU		      European Union
                  Figure 4.15	Overcrowding by Tenure: Northern Ireland and UK         77   FDA		     Full Dity Applicant
                               2010 and 2016                                                FTBs		    First Time Buyers
                                                                                            FRS		     Family Resources Survey
                                                                                            GB		      Great Britain
                                                                                            GDP		     Gross Domestic Product
                                                                                            GVA		     Gross Value Added
                                                                                            HSS		     Housing Solutions and Support
                                                                                            HSSG		    Homelessness Stratery Steering Group
                                                                                            JRF		     Joseph Rowntree Foundation
                                                                                            LFS		     Labour Force Survey
                                                                                            LHA		     Local Housing Allowance
                                                                                            NIAO		    Northern Ireland Audit Office
                                                                                            NIHE		    Northern Ireland Housing Executive
                                                                                            ONS		     Office for National Statistics
                                                                                            PIP		     Personal Independence Payment
                                                                                            SHDP		    Social Housing Development Programme
                                                                                            SP		      Supporting People
                                                                                            TA		      Temporary accommodation
                                                                                            UK		      United Kingdom
                                                                                            UKHLS		   UK Household Longitudinal Survey
x   The homelessness monitor: Northern Ireland 2020                                                                                                                                                   Executive summary   xi

               Foreword                                                                                Executive
               We all share a responsibility for ensuring everyone can access a safe and decent
               home. The combination of high rents, the benefits freeze, and a lack of housing

                                                                                                       Key points
               options are locking families in Northern Ireland in poverty, living in temporary
               accommodation or facing destitution. This cannot be right.

               Drawing on statistical analysis and in-depth interviews with key informants, this       The Homelessness Monitor series is a longitudinal study
               year’s Northern Ireland Monitor identifies several pressure points of the housing       providing an independent analysis of the homelessness
               and homelessness problem. The reduction in lettings by social landlords is a
               key reason for the increased pressure on the private rented sector. There is also       impacts of recent economic and policy developments
               growing gap between Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates and rents and only              in Northern Ireland and elsewhere in the United
               12 per cent of broad rental market areas in Northern Ireland have more than a
               fifth of properties available to let at below the LHA rate.
                                                                                                       Kingdom.1 This updated report provides an account of
                                                                                                       how homelessness stands in Northern Ireland in 2020,
               This accumulation of housing issues means that temporary accommodation                  or as close to 2020 as data availability allows.
               placements in Northern Ireland are at a decade-long high at 3,000 households.
               Whilst the recent power sharing deal commits to extending the mitigation
               package, it is a temporary solution that will not cover all aspects of welfare          Key points to emerge from our latest                     indicated by these official street
               reform. The multi-year budget and spending plan that the newly formed                   analysis are as follows.                                 counts, affecting closer to 250
               government are considering must consider LHA and welfare mitigation.                                                                             people on an average night.
                                                                                                       • Housing, homelessness and welfare
               The Homelessness Monitor Northern Ireland 2020 has been published at a                    policy development in Northern                       • In 2018/19 some 18,200 households
               moment of change as the Assembly and Executive returns after a three year                 Ireland has been severely hampered                     were logged as homelessness
               hiatus to take responsibility for driving key social and economic policies and            since January 2017 following the                       presentations in Northern Ireland,
               programmes, and the impact of the UK’s exit from the European Union becomes               collapse of the Northern Ireland                       of which more than two thirds –
               clearer. Whilst currently uncertain, the impact on homelessness, if any, will need to     Assembly. At the same time, the                        12,500 – were judged as “Full Duty
               be considered as part of any discussion about tackling and ending homelessness.           potentially serious economic,                          Applicant” cases. The total number
                                                                                                         political and social implications for                  of homelessness presentations has
               There is a role for the Northern Ireland Executive and the Westminster to                 Northern Ireland of a disorderly                       been virtually static over the past few
               play. The UK Government must use the next Budget to ease the pressure on                  Brexit are casting a long shadow over                  years, but Full Duty Applicant cases
               households struggling with high rents. The Executive must deliver on outcomes             all areas of public policy.                            have been steadily rising, increasing
               agreed in the New Decade New Approach Deal.                                                                                                      by 26% since 2009/10.
                                                                                                       • The number of rough sleepers across
               Homelessness is not inevitable. With the right policies and investment, ending            Northern Ireland was estimated                       • The Northern Ireland Housing
               homelessness or preventing it happening in the first place is truly within our            to be 38 in November 2018. Of                          Executive practice of processing
               capabilities. We simply can’t avoid the evidence any more, this report is a crucial       these, 16 were in Belfast – up from                    rehousing applications of people
               reference point to guide action in Northern Ireland and make homelessness a               only five a year earlier. Enumerated                   affected by ill health and occupying
               thing of the past.                                                                        rough sleeping in Northern Ireland                     unsuitable housing via the
                                                                                                         nonetheless remains relatively small                   homelessness legislation rather than
                                                                                                         in scale compared with other UK                        through the “normal” allocations
                                                                                                         jurisdictions. However, independent                    system significantly contributes
                                                                                                         sources of evidence suggest that                       to the historically high recorded
                                                                                                         the overall scale of rough sleeping                    incidence of statutory homelessness
                                                                                                         may be substantially greater than
               Jon Sparkes                     Claire Ainsley
               Chief Executive, Crisis         Executive Director at JRF
                                                                                                       1 Parallel Homelessness Monitors are being published for England, Scotland and Wales. All of the UK
                                                                                                          Homelessness Monitor reports are available from
xii   The homelessness monitor: Northern Ireland 2020                                                                                                                                                      Executive summary   xiii
                  in Northern Ireland as compared             higher rates than Scotland and Wales.       further evidenced by the frequency                       tenants, from significant reductions
                  with other UK jurisdictions.                The proportion of households with           with which private tenants cite the                      in their benefits. However, this
                                                              insufficient bedrooms against the           length of social landlord waiting lists                  protection is due to come to an
                 • It also helps to explain the strikingly    standard is 3.1% in Northern Ireland,       as a reason for opting for private                       end in March 2020.
                   high proportion of social housing          affecting about 24,000 households.          renting.
                   allocations accounted for by                                                                                                                  • The private rented sector has grown
                   statutory homeless cases in Northern      • The roll-out of Housing Solutions        • Attempts to increase the supply of                       enormously over the past 20 years
                   Ireland. In 2017/18 lettings to             and Support across Northern Ireland        social and affordable housing have                       and is now a similar size to the social
                   homeless households accounted               has generally been welcomed,               been hampered by the absence                             rented sector in Northern Ireland.
                   for no less than 88% of all Housing         with the associated enhanced               of an agreed policy on Developer                         Its growth has moderated in recent
                   Executive lettings to new tenants, as       data capture also felt to be an            Contributions in Northern Ireland,                       years. There is little evidence of “no
                   compared with 39% of all social lets        encouraging development. While             although local government intend                         fault” evictions rising to anything
                   to new tenants in Scotland, and only        the content of the Northern Ireland        to use the Local Development Plans                       like the extent that has occurred
                   21% of all local authority lets to new      Housing Executive Homelessness             process to introduce local planning                      in England in recent years, and the
                   tenants in England.                         Strategy 2017-2022 commanded               policies.                                                loss of rented accommodation is
                                                               general consensus, concerns remain                                                                  cited as a reason for homelessness
                 • The overall scale of annual                 with regard to implementation. The       • Moreover, a temporary “derogation”                       acceptances in only a relatively
                   temporary accommodation                     shift from a “rough sleeping” to a         that postpones both the Office                           modest proportion of total Full Duty
                   placements has oscillated within a          “Chronic Homelessness Action Plan”         of National Statistics’ decision to                      Applicant cases (13%), albeit that
                   fairly narrow band over recent years        under the auspices of the Strategy         reclassify Northern Ireland’s housing                    this category has exhibited a large
                   in Northern Ireland. Nevertheless, the      received an enthusiastic reception.        associations as public bodies, and                       proportionate increase over the
                   figure for 2017/18 was the highest of                                                  the severe budgetary implications of                     past decade.
                   the decade, at just over 3,000.           • The Department for Communities-            this, is due to end in March 2020. An
                                                               led Inter-departmental Action              Office of National Statistics decision                 • Unlike tenants in the social sector,
                 • Non-self-contained forms of                 Plan, intended to complement the           to reverse this reclassification                         there has been no mitigation
                   accommodation including bed and             Homelessness Strategy with a focus         decision is dependent on legislation                     package to protect private sector
                   breakfast and hostels accounted             on “non-accommodation” elements,           being passed that will deregulate                        tenants against the impact of the
                   for more than half of the 1,629             was generally welcomed, especially         housing associations. It will also                       growing gap between Local Housing
                   total temporary accommodation               with regards to the enhanced               legislate for the ending of the                          Allowance and contractual rents.
                   placements made in the first and            engagement of health services that         Statutory House Sales Scheme (the                        Recent research demonstrates
                   second quarters of financial year           it appears to have helped precipitate.     Northern Ireland equivalent of Right                     that in only 5 out of the 40 broad
                   2018/19. While private single lets          However, some of the actions               to Buy). The Northern Ireland Office                     rental market areas-property type
                   account for the bulk of placements          around education, for example, were        has now committed to passing this                        combinations are 20% or more of the
                   at a point in time, more than a             felt to be somewhat misdirected.           legislation through Westminster as                       properties available to let at below
                   quarter of households in temporary                                                     soon as possible.                                        the Local Housing Allowance rate,
                   accommodation as at 10 January            • The Supporting People budget                                                                        a rate which should reflect the 30th
                   2019 were living in non-self-               has been protected but frozen in         • There is an ongoing shortfall in                         percentile.
                   contained premises.                         Northern Ireland for a number              funding for the Housing Executive. It
                                                               of years, meaning that there has           is estimated that an additional £1bn                   Trends in homelessness
                 • The number of concealed potential           been a year-on-year reduction in           is required over a ten-year period                     Rough sleeping
                   households who would want or                value, putting pressure on some            to undertake necessary repairs and                     There has been a perceived rise in
                   expect to live separately is estimated      voluntary sector providers. While the      improvements to the stock, without                     rough sleeping in Northern Ireland in
                   at between 70,000 and 112,000:              continuation of its ring-fenced status     which there is the danger that a                       recent years. This perception is partly
                   9-15% of all households in Northern         is viewed as a major victory for the       proportion of the stock will have to                   related to a visible increase in “street
                   Ireland. These numbers have been            homelessness sector, this is currently     be “decommissioned” for health and                     activity” including street begging
                   relatively stable since 2015, and the       out to consultation.                       safety reasons.                                        and street drinking.2 Nevertheless,
                   proportion of adult children living                                                                                                           given the lack of any historical series
                   with parents remains higher than in       • Lettings by social landlords have        • The Welfare Reform “mitigation”                        it is difficult to judge whether rough
                   the rest of the UK.                         been on a downward trajectory              package introduced in stages in                        sleeping in Northern Ireland is, in fact,
                                                               for some time, whilst the number           2016 and 2017 has succeeded                            changing in scale in any sustained way.
                 • Overcrowding in Northern Ireland            of applicants in housing stress has        in protecting many low-income
                   appears to be static or slightly            risen. This suggests that the supply       households, especially social sector
                   increasing, with a strong increase in       of social rented housing is one of the
                   crowding in private renting, leading        main pressure points in the Northern     2 NIAO (2017) Homelessness in Northern Ireland, Belfast: Northern Ireland Audit Office. Available at: https://
                   to Northern Ireland now showing             Irish housing system, and this is
xiv   The homelessness monitor: Northern Ireland 2020                                                                                                                                                                                   Executive summary   xv
                 Drawing on street count data for                           logged presentations in 2018/19 were                      applications of people affected by                      single applicants, by contrast, have
                 Belfast, Derry/Londonderry and Newry,                      2% lower than in the 2009/10 base year.                   ill health and occupying unsuitable                     diminished considerably. Not only have
                 as well as estimates for other areas,                                                                                housing via this route rather than                      such applications declined by 30%, but
                 Northern Ireland Housing Executive                         Proportionate to total population,                        through the “normal” allocations                        the numerical reduction in younger
                 put the November 2018 number of                            statutory homeless numbers in                             system (i.e. as waiting list applicants)                adults over the period (1,225) has
                 rough sleepers across the jurisdiction                     Northern Ireland have historically run                    significantly contributes to the                        outweighed the combined increase
                 at 38.3 Of these, 16 were in Belfast                       at much higher rates than in England                      historically high recorded incidence of                 in pensioners and adults aged 26-59
                 – up from only five a year earlier.                        and Wales and somewhat higher                             statutory homelessness in Northern                      (1,030).
                 Nonetheless, enumerated rough                              than in Scotland.5 In part, this reflects                 Ireland.7 It also helps to explain the
                 sleeping in Northern Ireland remains                       the fact that, while homelessness                         strikingly high proportion of social                    The overall scale of temporary
                 relatively small in scale compared with                    acceptances in England and Wales                          housing allocations accounted for by                    accommodation placements has
                 other parts of the UK and with the                         fell substantially in the mid-2000s                       statutory homeless cases in Northern                    oscillated within a fairly narrow band
                 Republic of Ireland.                                       (especially in England), as a result of                   Ireland. In 2017/18 lettings to homeless                over recent years in Northern Ireland.
                                                                            the introduction of Housing Options,                      households accounted for no less than                   Nevertheless, the figure for 2017/18
                 However, as elsewhere in the UK,                           they remained largely stable in                           88% of all Northern Ireland Housing                     – the latest year for which published
                 independent sources of evidence                            Northern Ireland.                                         Executive lettings to new tenants,                      data is currently available – was the
                 suggest that the overall scale of                                                                                    as compared with 39% of all social                      highest of the decade, at just over
                 rough sleeping in Northern Ireland is                      However, another contributory                             lets to new tenants in Scotland, and                    3,000.9 In a new statistical series,
                 substantially greater than indicated                       factor is the statistical treatment of                    only 21% of all local authority lets to                 Northern Ireland Housing Executive
                 by official street counts. Based on                        certain categories of applicant, and                      new tenants in England.8 A recent                       reports a breakdown of temporary
                 2012 survey data (UK-wide Poverty                          in particular those who are accepted                      increase in the figure for Northern                     accommodation placements over
                 and Social Exclusion study) it can                         as homeless on grounds that their                         Ireland (e.g. from 76% in 2014/15) has                  a six-month period, according to
                 be inferred that the typical nightly                       “accommodation is not reasonable”.                        further accentuated a long-established                  the type of housing concerned.
                 number of rough sleepers in Northern                       This was the largest single “reason                       contrast between Northern Ireland and                   This shows that bed and breakfast,
                 Ireland was then around 250.                               for homelessness” category among                          other UK jurisdictions in this respect.                 hostels and similar forms of non-
                 Similarly, emergency service user data                     2018/19 FDA cases (at 32%). Moreover,                                                                             self-contained accommodation
                 collated in the 2017 Joseph Rowntree                       between 2009/10 and 2018/19 this                          Single adults of working age                            accounted for more than half of the
                 Foundation “Destitution in the UK”                         cohort grew from 2,490 to 3,674 – a                       accounted for exactly half of all                       1,629 total placements made in the
                 study,4 generated a “grossed up”                           rise of 59%. This classification is unique                presentations as homeless to the                        first and second quarters of financial
                 snapshot estimate of rough sleeping                        to Northern Ireland and, as indicated                     Northern Ireland Housing Executive                      year 2018/19. Private single lets10
                 in Northern Ireland of 250.                                by Northern Ireland Housing Executive,                    in 2018/19, and family households                       account for the bulk of placements
                                                                            may involve issues of “affordability,                     made up just under a third (32%). While                 at a point in time (reflecting the fact
                 Statutory homelessness                                     property unfitness levels, unsuitability                  “pensioner households” comprise only                    that such placements are, on average
                 In 2018/19 some 18,200 households                          for the needs of the household, severe                    13% of all presentations, recent years                  of longer duration). Even so, of the
                 were logged by the Northern Ireland                        overcrowding etc”.6 More than 80% of                      have seen a striking increase in this                   2,065 placements as at 10 January
                 Housing Executive as homelessness                          these applicants were deemed as Full                      group, up by 22% between 2009/10 –                      2019, some 586 – more than a quarter
                 presentations. Of these, more than                         Duty Applicant cases because their                        2018/19.                                                of the total – were living in non-
                 two thirds – 12,500 – were judged                          accommodation is not reasonable                                                                                   self-contained premises. Within this
                 as “Full Duty Applicant” cases. The                        in relation to their disability or health                 However, though pensioner household                     cohort, almost half (45%) had been
                 total number of homelessness                               (including mental health) condition.                      applications have risen fastest in                      accommodated as such for more
                 presentations has been virtually static                                                                              percentage terms over this period, the                  than six months, with a quarter (26%)
                 over the past few years, while Full Duty                   It seems, therefore, that the                             growth in single adults aged 26-59                      resident in accommodation of this kind
                 Applicant cases have been steadily                         Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s                      has been numerically larger. Younger                    for more than a year.11
                 rising. Thus, the latter have increased                    interpretation of the homelessness
                 by 26% since 2009/10, whereas total                        legislation to process rehousing                          7 Fitzpatrick, S., Pawson, H., Bramley, G., Wilcox, S. & Watts, B. (2016) The Homelessness Monitor: Northern
                                                                                                                                         Ireland 2016; London: CRISIS
                                                                                                                                      8 Stephens, M., Perry, J., Williams, P. and Young, G. (2019) UK Housing Review 2019. Coventry: Chartered
                                                                                                                                         Institute of Housing. Tables 97b, 103 and 104
                 3 NIHE (2019) Tackling Rough Sleeping in Northern Ireland: Key facts and figures, Online: Northern                  9 It should be noted that, in enumerating the throughput of placements during the cited financial years,
                    Ireland Housing Executive. Available at:                   these statistics differ from the ‘stock’ measure of temporary accommodation placements in Great Britain
                    c3d5c8403f23/Tackling-rough-sleeping-in-NI-key-facts-figures.pdf.aspx.                                               – i.e. the number as at a given date.
                 4 Fitzpatrick, S., Bramley, G., Sosenko, F., Blenkinsopp, J., Wood, J., Johnsen, S., Littlewood, M. and Watts, B.   10 These are defined by DfC as follows: “A single let is a private dwelling which is made available on a
                    (2018) Destitution in the UK 2018: Final Report, York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Available at: https://              temporary basis to a homeless household while they are waiting for permanent rehousing. These
                                                                                       dwellings are normally in the private rented sector”. NIHE (2019) Northern Ireland Homelessness Bulletin
                 5 Fitzpatrick, S., Pawson, H., Bramley, G., Wilcox, S. and Watts, B. (2016) The Homelessness Monitor:                    April - September 2018, Online: Department for Communities, Northern Ireland Statistics & Research
                    Northern Ireland 2016, London: Crisis.                                                                                 Agency, Northern Ireland Housing Executive. Available at:
                 6 NIHE (2017) Homelessness Strategy for Northern Ireland 2017-2022: Ending Homelessness Together,                        files/publications/communities/ni-homelessness-bulletin-apr-sep-2018.PDF.
                    Belfast: Northern Ireland Housing Executive. Available at:                     11 NIHE (2019) Northern Ireland Homelessness Bulletin April - September 2018, Online: Department for
                    Homelessness/homelessness-strategy-northern-ireland-2017-2022.aspx?ext=.                                              Communities, Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency,
xvi   The homelessness monitor: Northern Ireland 2020                                                                                                                                                       Executive summary   xvii
                 Hidden and wider                                        Northern Ireland appears to have seen                 lower throughout the UK as a result of       Irish housing system,and is further
                 homelessness risks                                      an increase in sharing since 2012,                    Brexit, with the severity depending on       evidenced by the frequency with
                 People may be in a similar housing                      to higher levels than the rest of UK,                 the nature of the trading agreement          which private tenants cite the length of
                 situation to those who apply to                         but the prevalence of larger groups                   reached with the EU.                         social landlord waiting lists as a reason
                 housing authorities as homeless, that                   sharing in the social rented sector                                                                for opting for private renting.
                 is, lacking their own secure, separate                  suggests possible inconsistencies in                  The labour market in Northern Ireland
                 accommodation, without formally                         recording of congregate supported                     remains weak. Although employment            Attempts to increase the supply of
                 applying or registering with Northern                   accommodation.                                        levels have risen above 70%, this is         social and affordable housing have
                 Ireland Housing Executive. Such people                                                                        almost 5% below the UK average. More         been hampered by the absence
                 are sometimes referred to as “hidden                    Overcrowding was less common in                       than one-quarter of 16-64 years olds         of an agreed policy on Developer
                 homeless”, although perhaps it would                    Northern Ireland than in the other UK                 are economically inactive, which is          Contributions in Northern Ireland,
                 be more accurate to characterise                        countries, particularly compared to                   the highest level in the UK. Economic        although progress is now being made
                 some of these groups as people with                     England, in 2010. However, as rates in                inactivity has risen since 2012, whereas     through affordable housing polices
                 unmet housing needs who are at risk                     the other UK countries appear to have                 it has fallen elsewhere in the UK. In real   being created through the Local
                 of homelessness. A number of large-                     fallen, the rates in Northern Ireland                 terms, earnings were no higher in 2018       Development Planning process that
                 scale/household surveys enable us to                    were static to 2013 and then rose in                  than they were in 2008, although they        would see a percentage of housing
                 measure some particular categories                      2016. The rate of overcrowding in                     have recovered from the low point            developed being affordable – 20%
                 of potential hidden homelessness                        Northern Ireland is now higher than                   in 2014.                                     in all developments over 5 units is
                 or wider risk of homelessness:                          in Wales or Scotland, but still lower                                                              proposed in Belfast City Council.
                 concealed households; households                        than in England. The proportion                       House prices in Northern Ireland             Moreover, a temporary “derogation”
                 who are sharing accommodation;                          of households with insufficient                       have risen since the depths of the           that postpones both the Office
                 and overcrowded households. It                          bedrooms against the standard is 3.1%                 recession but they are more than 60%         for National Statistics decision to
                 is important to emphasise that not                      in Northern Ireland, affecting about                  lower than the peak in real terms. This      reclassify Northern Ireland’s housing
                 everyone living in these situations                     24,000 households.                                    has fed through into improvements            associations as public bodies and
                 will actually be homeless, but these                                                                          in affordability with house price to         the severe budgetary implications of
                 phenomena are indicative of the kinds                   Overcrowding is more common in                        earnings ratios falling from 10 in 2007      this is due to end in March 2020. An
                 of housing pressures that may be                        social renting (4.0%) and private renting             to 5 now. There have been revivals in        Office for National Statistics decision
                 associated with hidden homelessness                     (4.8%) and lower in owner occupation                  mortgage lending especially among            to reverse this reclassification decision
                 or a risk of falling into homelessness.                 (2.3%). Private renting especially,                   first time buyers, and there are more        has been linked to the ending of the
                                                                         but also social renting, and owner                    first-time buyer mortgages being             Statutory House Sales Scheme (the
                 The number of concealed potential                       occupation, have all seen increases                   granted now compared to 2007, but            Northern Ireland equivalent of Right
                 households who may want or expect                       in overcrowding in Northern Ireland                   they are still a long way below the          to Buy), which cannot be forthcoming
                 to live separately is estimated at                      between 2010 and 2016.12 In Northern                  levels of 2001. People who already           until the Northern Ireland Executive is
                 between 70,000 and 112,000: 9-15%                       Ireland, overcrowding is more                         own their own homes are benefiting           up and running again or it is legislated
                 of all households in Northern Ireland.                  prevalent for working age households                  from improved affordability arising          for in Parliament. Attempts to make
                 These numbers have been relatively                      without children than it is for families              from very low interest rates with the        significant amendments to the
                 stable since 2015, and the proportion                   with children, a different situation from             result that arrears and possessions are      historically sensitive allocations policy
                 of adult children living with parents                   that in the UK as a whole where more                  at very low levels.                          for social housing, especially around
                 remains higher than in the rest of the                  families are affected.                                                                             so-called “intimidation points”, have
                 UK. The propensity of younger adults                                                                          Low housing costs in Northern                ground to a halt for the same reason.
                 to head households has tended to rise                   Economic and policy impacts                           Ireland, relative to the rest of the UK,     Also extremely worrying is the ongoing
                 in Northern Ireland in recent years,                    on homelessness                                       indicate a housing system under less         shortfall in funding for the Housing
                 against falling trends in rest of UK.                   Northern Ireland experienced the                      pressure than in many other parts of         Executive. It is estimated that an
                 This is probably indicative of both an                  deepest recession of any UK countries,                the country. Northern Ireland has a          additional £1bn is required over a ten-
                 easier general housing market and                       and output recovered to pre-recession                 similarly sized social rented sector         year period to undertake necessary
                 economic improvement following                          levels only in 2015. There has been                   to England and Wales, with 17% of            repairs and improvements to the stock,
                 the peace agreement. Equally,                           some catching up with the rest of                     households recorded as living in             without which there is the danger that
                 some recent fluctuations in rates of                    the UK more recently but within the                   the sector in all three jurisdictions in     a proportion of the stock will have to
                 household formation could reflect the                   context of economic low growth                        2017/18. However, lettings by social         be “decommissioned” for health and
                 very dramatic “boom and bust” in the                    that is expected to continue, and                     landlords have been on a downward            safety reasons.
                 housing market in Ireland (North and                    the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.                   trajectory for some time, whilst the
                 South) in the late 2000s.                               Economic growth is expected to be                     number of applicants in housing stress       The Welfare Reform “mitigation”
                                                                                                                               has risen. This suggests that the supply     package introduced in stages in 2016
                                                                                                                               of social rented housing is one of the       and 2017 has succeeded in protecting
                 12 These trends appear to differ from those seen in the Rest of the UK, according to the available UK-wide
                                                                                                                               main pressure points in the Northern         many low-income households,
                     data source (UKHLS).
xviii   The homelessness monitor: Northern Ireland 2020                                                                                                                                                                 Executive summary   xix
                   especially social tenants, from                       Act; undertaking an evaluation of                In 2017, the “Northern Ireland Housing                4. To ensure the right mechanisms are
                   significant reductions in their benefits              split Universal Credit payments in               Executive Homelessness Strategy                          in place to oversee and deliver this
                   to date, and is likely to have made a                 Scotland to assess an appropriate                2017-22” was published,14 together                       strategy.
                   considerable contribution to keeping                  model for Northern Ireland; halting              with a “Housing Executive Led Action
                   homelessness in Northern Ireland                      the implementation of the UK-wide                Plan”.15 This Homelessness Strategy                   5. To measure and monitor existing
                   relatively stable, at least with respect              two-child limit on Universal Credit              was informed by an independent                           and emerging need to inform the
                   to rough sleeping and temporary                       in Northern Ireland and reimbursing              evaluation of the previous (2012-                        ongoing development of appropriate
                   accommodation placements.                             families already affected by this                2017) Strategy,16 and a 2017 report                      services.
                   However, this protection is due to                    restriction. At the time of writing              by the Northern Ireland Audit Office,
                   come to an end in March 2020. The                     the Government response to these                 entitled “Homelessness in Northern                    Most of our key informants were
                   ending of protection from the Social                  recommendations is awaited.                      Ireland”. The Northern Ireland Audit                  fairly satisfied with the Strategy’s
                   Sector Size Criteria (“Bedroom Tax”)                                                                   Office called for stepped up action                   content, and consistent with this,
                   for 34,000 tenants in the social sector               The private rented sector has grown              and co-ordination to meet Northern                    Northern Ireland Housing Executive
                   poses a considerable risk that it will lead           enormously in Northern Ireland over the          Ireland Housing Executive’s targets                   reported that 90% of consultation
                   to rising arrears and ultimately to higher            past 20 years and is now considerably            for reducing homelessness, given                      responses on the draft Strategy
                   levels of homelessness, particularly                  larger than the social rented sector,            rises in statutory homelessness                       endorsed its vision and objectives.19
                   in view of the mismatch between the                   albeit that its growth has moderated             over the period of the 2012-2017                      Especially well-received was the
                   social housing stock and bedroom                      in recent years. Unlike tenants in               strategy.17 Together with the Action                  prioritisation of prevention in the
                   requirements of smaller households as                 the social sector, there has been no             Plan produced by the Ministers for                    Strategy, linked to the roll out of
                   determined by the “Bedroom Tax”. The                  mitigation package to protect private            Social Development, Health and Social                 Northern Ireland’s Housing Options
                   option of using Discretionary Housing                 sector tenants against the impact of the         Care, and Justice,18 triggered by rough               approach, known as Housing Solutions
                   Payments is by no means an ideal                      growing gap between Local Housing                sleeper deaths in Belfast, the Northern               and Support, which was generally
                   way of addressing this issue, not least               Allowance and contractual private rents.         Ireland Audit Office report has been                  welcomed, albeit that aspects of its
                   because of their budget-limited as well               Recent research by Housing Rights                credited with strengthening the new                   operationalisation were considered
                   as discretionary nature.                              provides a disaggregated analysis of the         Homelessness Strategy’s focus on                      problematic by some stakeholders.
                                                                         situation that shows in only 5 out of the        prevention and housing-led solutions.                 Moreover, the broadening of focus
                   The Work and Pensions and Northern                    40 broad rental market area property-                                                                  from shift from a “rough sleeping”
                   Ireland Affairs Committees published                  type combinations are 20% or more                The Homelessness Strategy 2017-2022                   to a “Chronic Homelessness Action
                   their joint report on “Welfare policy in              of the properties available to let at            has five core themes:                                 Plan”, brought forward by Northern
                   Northern Ireland”13 on 9 September                    below the Local Housing Allowance                                                                      Ireland Housing Executive as part of
                   2019. The key recommendation was                      rate, a rate which should reflect the            1. To prioritise homelessness                         Year Two of its Strategy, received an
                   that the mitigation package should                    30th percentile. Nonetheless, there is              prevention.                                        enthusiastic reception.20 However, key
                   be extended for a further four years                  little evidence of “no fault” evictions                                                                informants echoed similar fears as in
                   beyond March 2020 and that this                       becoming a dominant cause of                     2. To secure sustainable                              the 2016 Monitor around a potential
                   would include the Social Sector                       homelessness, with the loss of rented               accommodation and appropriate                      implementation gap, exacerbated by a
                   Size Criteria (“Bedroom Tax”) and                     accommodation cited as a reason for                 support solutions for homeless                     continued lack of new social housing
                   benefit cap mitigations as well as                    homelessness acceptances in only a                  households.                                        supply (see above), Brexit-related
                   disability-related mitigation payments                relatively modest proportion of total                                                                  anxieties, and suspension of the
                   and mitigation for 16-year olds                       full duty applicant cases (13%), albeit          3. To further understand and address                  Northern Ireland Executive.
                   transitioning from Disability Living                  that this category has exhibited a large            the complexities of chronic
                   Allowance to Personal Independence                    proportionate increase over the past                homelessness across Northern Ireland.
                   Payments. Other recommendations                       decade. This paints a very different
                   include: making Discretionary Support                 picture to the massive expansion in              14 NIHE (2017) Homelessness Strategy for Northern Ireland 2017-2022: Ending Homelessness Together,
                   Awards less restrictive (in particular, by            the numbers made homeless by the                     Belfast: Northern Ireland Housing Executive. Available at:
                   removing a specific income ceiling);                  ending of private tenancies witnessed
                                                                                                                          15 Chapter 5 of NIHE (2017) Ending Homelessness Together: Homelessness Strategy for Northern Ireland
                   that the Secretary of State for Northern              in England since 2010, although the                  2017-2022, Belfast: Northern Ireland Housing Executive.
                   Ireland should make a statement to                    full roll-out of Universal Credit, and           16 Summarised in NIHE (2017) Ending Homelessness Together: Homelessness Strategy for Northern Ireland
                   Parliament as soon as possible stating                the fast approaching so-called “cliff                2017-2022, Belfast: Northern Ireland Housing Executive.
                                                                                                                          17 McMordie, L. and Watts, B. (2018) ‘The Northern Ireland Audit Office Report on Homelessness: A Missed
                   the Government’s intention to pass                    edge”, if and when the welfare reform                Opportunity’, European Journal of Homelessness, 12(2), pp. 89-113.
                   legislation to extend the mitigation                  mitigation package ends, may see that            18 Fitzpatrick, S., Pawson, H., Bramley, G., Wilcox, S. and Watts, B. (2016) The Homelessness Monitor:
                   package in a Northern Ireland Budget                  position change.                                     Northern Ireland 2016, London: Crisis.
                                                                                                                          19 NIHE (2017) Homelessness Strategy for Northern Ireland 2017-2022: Ending Homelessness Together,
                                                                                                                              Belfast: Northern Ireland Housing Executive. Available at:
                   13 Northern Ireland Affairs Committee (2019) Welfare policy in Northern Ireland: House of Commons.        Homelessness/homelessness-strategy-northern-ireland-2017-2022.aspx?ext=.
                       Available at:         20 NIHE (2019) Chronic Homelessness Action Plan, Belfast/Online: Northern Ireland Housing Executive.
                       northern-ireland-affairs-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/welfare-policy-in-northern-ireland-       Available at:
                       inquiry-17-19/.                                                                                        Homelessness-Action-Plan-ACCE.aspx.
xx   The homelessness monitor: Northern Ireland 2020                                                                                                                        Executive summary   xxi
                An Inter-Departmental Action Plan                        encompasses issues linked with                          Conclusion
                2017-18, published and led by                            homelessness, but was criticised by                     This year’s Homelessness Monitor, the
                Department for Communities, is                           some key informants as not being                        last in the current series, was written
                intended to complement the new                           sharply focussed enough on those                        at a moment of great uncertainty in
                Northern Ireland Housing Executive                       young people at highest risk.                           Northern Ireland. Even more than
                Homelessness Strategy, by focusing                                                                               the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland
                on non-accommodation aspects of                          As reported in the last Homelessness                    faces economic, social and political
                homelessness-related interventions.21                    Monitor in 2016, Department for                         consequences arising from Brexit, with
                It sets out five priority areas: Health                  Communities led a Supporting People                     much depending on the success of
                and wellbeing, including mental health                   review published in November 201524                     the special arrangements envisaged.
                and substance misuse; Education                          which recommended moving away                           Coupled with the policy and legal
                and awareness raising – children,                        from primarily accommodation-                           stasis introduced by the collapse of the
                young people, schools and providers;                     based provision to more floating                        Northern Ireland Assembly in January
                Support for those leaving places of                      support models. A new strategic                         2017, it is remarkable that we are able
                care, including a range of institutions;                 commissioning approach was also                         to report on at least some positive
                Support for families, including those                    intended to rationalise floating                        developments on homelessness since
                experiencing domestic violence;                          support and other Supporting People-                    the last Monitor in 2016, not least
                Employability, financial capability and                  funded services, with a focus on the                    the roll-out of Housing Solutions
                access to benefits. A Year 1 report of                   achievement of better value for money                   and Support across the jurisdiction.
                the Action Plan for 2017-18,22 and a                     via competitive selection. In September                 However, the potential ending of the
                Year 2 Action Plan for 2019-2020, have                   2018, Department for Communities                        welfare reform mitigation package in
                now been published.23 In the latter                      published at Action Plan for the                        March 2020 is clearly a very significant
                document it was acknowledged that                        Implementation of this Supporting                       and urgent concern, and so too is
                a more outcome-focussed approach                         People review.25 There have been no                     the growing pressure on the (already
                was required going forward.                              cuts to the Supporting People budget                    modest) social housing supply in
                                                                         in Northern Ireland on anything                         Northern Ireland. The potentially
                This Inter-Departmental Action                           like the scale seen in England,26 but                   deleterious homelessness impacts of
                Plan stream of work was welcomed                         funding levels have been static since                   these twin developments are obvious
                by key informants, especially the                        2008, with no inflation-related uplift,                 and worrying.
                establishment of a pilot Homeless                        so in real terms there have been year-
                Healthcare Hub in Belfast, designed                      on-year reductions. On the other
                to provide outreach care to those                        hand, the ring fence round Supporting
                who are sleeping rough or in hostel                      People funding, now removed in
                accommodation. However, not all                          both England and Scotland, currently
                key informants were persuaded by                         remains in place in Northern Ireland,
                the focus of all of the actions in the                   a fact welcomed by voluntary sector
                Plan. For instance, a key action for                     providers, though this is now
                Education is around developing a                         under review.
                section of the Active Citizenship
                curriculum for school children that

                21 DfCNI (2017) Inter-Departmental Homelessness Action Plan: Priorities and Actions for 2017–2018,
                    Belfast/Online: Department for Communities. Available at:
                22 DfCNI (2018) Interdepartmental Homelessness Action Plan 2017–18: Year 1 Report, Belfast/Online:
                    Department for Communities. Available at:
                23 DfCNI (2019) Interdepartmental Homelessness Action Plan 2019–20: Year 2 Action Plan, Belfast/Online:
                    Department for Communities. Available at:
                24 DSD (2015) Review of Supporting People: Final Report, Belfast: Department for Social Development.
                    Available at:
                    supporting-people-report.PDF ; DSD (2016) Action Plan for the Implementation of the Supporting
                    People Review, Belfast: Department for Social Development.
                25 DSD (2015) Review of Supporting People: Final Report, Belfast: Department for Social Development.
                    Available at:
                26 Fitzpatrick, S., Pawson, H., Bramley, G., Wood, J., Watts, B., Stephens, M. and Blenkinsopp, J. (2019) The
                    Homelessness Monitor: England 2019, London: Crisis.
1   The homelessness monitor: Northern Ireland 2020                                                                                                                                                                         Introduction   2
                                                                                                                   is important to emphasise that not                    single “trigger” that is either “necessary”

                                                                                                                   everyone living in the situations                     or “sufficient” for it to occur. Individual,
                                                                                                                   discussed in this section will actually               interpersonal and structural factors all
                                                                                                                   be homeless, but these phenomena                      play a role – and interact with each
                                                                                                                   are indicative of the kinds of housing                other – and the balance of causes
                                                                                                                   pressures that may be associated                      differs over time, across countries, and
                                                                                                                   with hidden homelessness or a risk                    between demographic groups.
                                                                                                                   of falling into homelessness.
                                                                                                                                                                         With respect to the main structural
                                                                                                                 Further details on the definitions used                 factors, international comparative
                                                                                                                 for each of these categories are given                  research, and the experience of

               1. Introduction
                                                                                                                 in subsequent chapters.                                 previous UK recessions, suggests that
                                                                                                                                                                         housing market trends and policies
                                                                                                                 1.3 Research methods                                    have the most direct impact on levels
                                                                                                                 Three main methods have been                            of homelessness, with the influence
               1.1 Introduction                                        1.2 Definition of homelessness            employed in this longitudinal study:                    of labour market change more likely
               This study provides an independent                      A wide definition of homelessness is                                                              to be lagged and diffuse, and strongly
               analysis of the homelessness impacts                    adopted in this study, and we consider    • First, relevant literature, legal and                 mediated by welfare arrangements and
               of recent economic and policy                           the impacts of relevant policy and          policy documents have been                            other contextual factors. The central
               developments in Northern Ireland. It                    economic changes on all of the              reviewed.                                             role that poverty plays in shaping
               considers both the consequences of                      following homeless groups:                                                                        homelessness risks in the UK is also
               the post-2007 economic and housing                                                                • Second, we have undertaken                            now well established.29
               market recession, and the subsequent                    • People sleeping rough.                    in-depth interviews with seven
               recovery, and also the impact of                                                                    key informants. This includes                         The individual vulnerabilities, support
               policy changes implemented under                        • Statutorily homeless households –         representatives of service provider                   needs and “risk taking” behaviours
               the post-2010 UK Governments, as                          that is, households who seek housing      organisations and others well placed                  implicated in some people’s
               well as relevant Northern Ireland                         assistance from the Northern              to comment on the homelessness                        homelessness are themselves often,
               Executive policies. At the time of                        Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE)          impacts of policy changes and                         though not always, rooted in the
               writing, Northern Ireland had had no                      on grounds of being currently or          economic developments in                              pressures associated with poverty and
               functioning Government for two and                        imminently without accommodation.         Northern Ireland.                                     other forms of structural disadvantage.
               a half years after the collapse of the                                                                                                                    At the same time, the “anchor” of
               power-sharing agreement in Stormont                     • “Hidden homeless” households –          • Third, we have undertaken statistical                 social relationships which can act as a
               in January 2017.                                          people may be in a similar housing        analysis on a) relevant economic and                  primary “buffer” to homelessness, can
                                                                         situation to those who apply to           social trends in Northern Ireland;                    be put under considerable strain by
               This “update” report provides an                          housing authorities as homeless,          and b) the scale, nature and trends in                stressful financial circumstances. Thus,
               account of how homelessness stands                        that is, lacking their own secure,        homelessness amongst the four sub-                    deteriorating economic conditions in
               in Northern Ireland in 2019 (or as                        separate accommodation, without           groups noted above.                                   Northern Ireland and elsewhere in the
               close to 2019 as data availability will                   formally applying or registering with                                                           UK could also be expected to generate
               allow), and analyses key trends in the                    NIHE. Such people are sometimes         1.4 Causation and homelessness                          more “individual” and “interpersonal”
               period running up to 2019. This year’s                    referred to as “hidden homeless”,       All of the Homelessness Monitors                        vulnerabilities to homelessness
               report focuses in particular on what                      although perhaps it would be more       are underpinned by a conceptual                         over time.
               has changed since we published the                        accurate to characterise some of        framework on the causation of
               last Homelessness Monitor Northern                        these groups as people with unmet       homelessness that has been used                         1.5 Structure of report
               Ireland in 2016. Readers who would                        housing needs who are at risk of        to inform our interpretation of the                     Chapter 2 reviews the current
               like a fuller account of the recent                       homelessness. A number of large-        likely impacts of economic and                          economic context and the implications
               history of homelessness in Northern                       scale/household surveys enable us to    policy change.28                                        of housing market developments for
               Ireland should consult with the                           measure some particular categories                                                              homelessness. Chapter 3 shifts focus
               previous Homelessness Monitors for                        of potential hidden homelessness        Theoretical, historical and international               to the UK Government and Northern
               Northern Ireland available on Crisis’s                    or wider risk of homelessness:          perspectives indicate that the causation                Ireland Executive’s homelessness,
               website.27 Parallel Homelessness                          concealed households; households        of homelessness is complex, with no                     housing and welfare policy agendas
               Monitors are being published for other                    who are sharing accommodation;
               parts of the UK.                                          and overcrowded households. It          28 For a more detailed account of this conceptual framework please consult with Chapter 2 in the very first
                                                                                                                     Homelessness Monitor: Fitzpatrick, S., Pawson, H., Bramley, G. & Wilcox, S. (2011) The Homelessness
                                                                                                                     Monitor: Tracking the impacts of policy and economic change in England 2011-2013. London: Crisis.
               27 See The Homelessness Monitor: Crisis. Available at:           29 Bramley, G. and Fitzpatrick, S. (2018) 'Homelessness in the UK: who is most at risk?', Housing Studies,
                   homelessnessmonitor.html.                                                                         33(1), pp. 96-116.
3   The homelessness monitor: Northern Ireland 2020                                                                                                     Economic factors   4
               and their likely homelessness impacts.
               Chapter 4 provides a fully updated

               analysis of the available statistical
               data on the current scale of, and
               recent trends in, homelessness in
               Northern Ireland. All of these chapters
               are informed by the insights derived

               from our in-depth interviews with
               key informants conducted in 2019. In
               Chapter 5, we summarise the main
               findings of this update report.

                                                         2. Economic factors that may
                                                         impact on homelessness
                                                         2.1 Introduction                                     with basing its forecasts on current
                                                         This chapter sets the broader social,                Government policy, which is presently
                                                         economic and housing context to                      problematic due to the uncertainties
                                                         homelessness in Northern Ireland.                    surrounding Brexit, and post-Brexit
                                                         Our assessment takes place at a time                 policy.30 Nominal growth in GDP
                                                         of great uncertainty caused by Brexit                was slower in the closing months of
                                                         and the absence of a power-sharing                   2018 than the OBR expected and the
                                                         agreement in Northern Ireland. The                   forecast for the year is 1.4% compared
                                                         chapter examines the performance                     to 1.8% in 2017. In real terms, growth
                                                         of the Northern Irish economy and                    was negative: minus 1.5% in 2017
                                                         its impacts on the labour market                     and minus 1.7% in 2018.31 Similarly
                                                         and trends in poverty. We examine                    anaemic growth rates are forecast up
                                                         the housing market context in terms                  to 2023, although there is little point
                                                         of the balance between supply                        in detailing them given the uncertainty
                                                         and the demand that is anticipated                   surrounding Brexit.
                                                         from household growth and other
                                                         demographic change. We also                          The uncertainty following the vote to
                                                         examine each of the main tenures,                    leave the EU in the 2016 referendum
                                                         considering access, affordability and                has already depressed economic
                                                         evidence of arrears and evictions.                   growth across the UK with the result
                                                                                                              that the economy was 2.5% smaller
                                                         2.2 The broader economic context                     at the end of 2019 than it would have
                                                         In recent years, the UK economy has                  been had the UK voted to remain.32
                                                         become locked into a pattern of low
                                                         growth combined with high levels of                  The uncertainty throughout 2019
                                                         employment. The Office of Budgetary                  surrounded whether the interim
                                                         Responsibility (OBR) is charged                      agreement negotiated by Theresa

                                                         30 OBR (2019) Economic and fiscal outlook - March 2019, Online: Office for Budget Responsibility.
                                                              Available at: p.1
                                                         31 Ibid., Table 1.1
                                                         32 Hantzsche, A and Young, G (2019) The economic impact of Prime minister Johnson’s new Brexit deal,
                                                             National Institute Economic Review, No. 250, pp. F34-F37
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