The homelessness monitor: Northern Ireland 2020 - Crisis
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xxxxxxx 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 www.crisis.org.uk © 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) zzzz 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 2009/10-2017/18 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 10/1/2019
viii The homelessness monitor: Northern Ireland 2020 ix Acronyms 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 summary 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 http://www.crisis.org.uk/pages/homelessnessmonitor.html
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:// www.niauditoffice.gov.uk/sites/niao/files/media-files/Homelessness%20in%20Northern%20Ireland%20 to Northern Ireland now showing Irish housing system, and this is Full%20Report_0.pdf.
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: https://www.nihe.gov.uk/getmedia/665fcdd6-146e-4389-8a3b- 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 www.jrf.org.uk/report/destitution-uk-2018. 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: https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/system/ 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: https://www.nihe.gov.uk/Documents/ 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: https://www.nihe.gov.uk/Documents/ Homelessness/homelessness-strategy-northern-ireland-2017-2022.aspx?ext=. 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: https://www.nihe.gov.uk/Documents/ 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: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/ 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: https://www.nihe.gov.uk/Documents/Supporting-Documents/RS-246-02-19-Chronic- 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: https://www.justice-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/ files/publications/communities/dfc-inter-departmental-homelessness-action-plan.pdf. 22 DfCNI (2018) Interdepartmental Homelessness Action Plan 2017–18: Year 1 Report, Belfast/Online: Department for Communities. Available at: https://www.justice-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/ communities/dfc-inter-departmental-homelessness-action-plan-year1-report-1718.pdf. 23 DfCNI (2019) Interdepartmental Homelessness Action Plan 2019–20: Year 2 Action Plan, Belfast/Online: Department for Communities. Available at: https://www.justice-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/ communities/dfc-inter-departmental-homelessness-action-plan-year2-report-1920.pdf. 24 DSD (2015) Review of Supporting People: Final Report, Belfast: Department for Social Development. Available at: https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/dsd/review-of- 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: https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/dsd/review-of- supporting-people-report.PDF. 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” Introduction 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: http://www.crisis.org.uk/pages/ 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 Economic 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 factors 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: https://obr.uk/efo/economic-fiscal-outlook-march-2019/ 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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