Means testing of rents for tenants of public sector housing is to be deferred and will not now be introduced in April 2015.
Minister for Health and Social Care, Howard Quayle MHK, said:
'Assessing people’s ability to pay for services will undoubtedly play a significant role in ensuring that essential services are targeted at those most in need and are sustainable in the long term.
'It remains the Department’s intention to support the cross Government approach to means testing services which undoubtedly will involve ensuring that rents are equitable and reflect both the property and the tenant’s ability to pay.'
Over the past several months the Department has been conducting extensive research into the feasibility of introducing means tested rents for public sector housing in 2015. It has become clear that additional legislative powers will be required to bring forward the measures and as such a deferment will be necessary.
The Minister continued:
'It is important that any policy we introduce is understood by the public, is robust enough to prevent fraud or loopholes and does not have unforeseen consequences for the vulnerable. Means testing extends far beyond the DHSC, with work ongoing to determine the overall policy across Government, to which the Department’s officers are contributing.'
The Department will be consulting with all local housing authorities to seek their views on the annual rent increase for 2015/16, and this will be progressed by the Department in the usual manner with an announcement in November.