You may already be aware that the Government is making big changes to many benefits, including housing benefit, across the UK. While legislation has already been passed in Great Britain, the Northern Ireland Executive is discussing new legislation for potential changes here.
The proposals contained within the Welfare Reform Bill for Northern Ireland may see new benefits and payment systems introduced in place of current benefits. You and your family may be affected by some of the changes and we want to make sure that you are aware of what to expect.
The Main Changes
- Housing Benefit will be based on new rules about how many bedrooms you need. You may lose out if you have bedrooms that the Government thinks you don’t need.
- Benefits could be capped at a certain level. This means the Government would add up all your benefits and if the total is more than the maximum amount allowed, your Housing Benefit payments could be reduced
- Plans have been considered for a number of income benefits and Housing Benefit to be replaced with one single monthly payment
- If someone in your home is over 18, not in full time education, works or claims benefit, they will be expected to pay a contribution to your rent. Your housing benefit will be cut in line with this expected contribution.
Want to Know More?
The Department for Communities also has useful up-to-date information on its website to let you know what’s happening: www.communities-ni.gov.uk
The team at St Matthew’s Housing Association is also happy to help talk you through what the changes could mean for you.
Cutting Out Anti-Social Behaviour
MAKING YOUR COMMUNITY SAFER
We want tenants to live in safe, happy communities and work hard to provide support and advice to ensure they are just that. Anti-social behaviour (ASB) is behaviour that lacks consideration for others and may cause damage to the society, whether intentionally or through negligence. Broadly, it is acting in a way that causes or is likely to cause alarm or distress to one or more people in another household. There may be a fine line between antisocial behaviour and disputes between neighbours over relatively minor inconveniences, although these may, if persistent, become antisocial behaviour.
WHAT WILL WE DO?
We will use everything at our disposal to prevent ASB. When reported, we will:
- Take instant action, including trying preventative measures to resolve issues where possible.
- Be constantly proactive in tackling ASB.
- Protect and support victims and witnesses.
- Keep you informed with all ASB cases right to the end including when we intend to close a case.
- Work with Police, Local Authorities and other agencies to resolve issues.
HOW CAN I REPORT ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOUR?
There are a number of ways to report incidents of anti-social behaviour. They include:
- Contacting us by telephone on 028 9045 1070.
- In person at any of our offices.
- Contact your local police station or in case of emergency ring 999.
Or Click Here to contact us through our website.
Rent Payment Methods
Payment by Standing Order / Direct Debit
- Rent can be paid by Standing Order / Direct Debit from your bank account. The necessary forms and details are available from the Association.
- Please note: SMHA recommend that you notify your Housing Officer in advance of using this method of payment as confusion can arise over amounts due on a monthly basis (52 weeks in a financial year) and the need to identify the correct payee when the association receives cash from tenants on its bank statement.
FreePay Payment Card
- Rent can be paid at the Post Office or any PayPoint outlet.
- You will pay by cash using your card and please retain your receipt as proof of payment
- If you lose your FreePay Card please contact our office immediately
- Please note: The Association does not usually accept cash at our office.
- Housing Benefit is processed and paid by the NIHE (Northern Ireland Housing Executive) and is ‘means tested’. SMHA staff can offer advice and information on procedures in the completion of Housing Benefit application forms, which are available at our office.
- Any claim for housing benefit will be determined by your state benefits or household income.
- Tenants are held liable to make up any shortfall in relation to their rent or any other charges that are not covered by Housing Benefit.
If the repair is the Association’s responsibility, report it immediately to our office, giving accurate details of the nature and extent of the fault. If in doubt, contact the Association.
You can report the repair in the following ways:
- In person or by letter at our offices at 58 Harper Street, Belfast, BT5 4EN
- By telephone to Tel: 028 9045 1070
- By email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Or by using the contact form on this page.
When you are reporting the repair please ensure you give:
- Your name and address
- A contact telephone (mobile if applicable)
- A full description of the fault and its location
- Details of when and how Maintenance Staff can inspect the fault if required or the Contractor can carry out the work
Emergency Out of Hours Repairs
In the event of an emergency outside of normal office working hours, tenants are requested to telephone Telecare Out of Hours Service (Freephone 0800 731 3081). This must only be used in real emergencies, for example, a burst pipe or serious electrical fault. An emergency repair of this nature may in some cases only make safe the fault, in which case the full repair will be carried out during normal working hours.