Home-owners and poverty in Northern Ireland

Document type
Barnard, Helen
Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Date of publication
20 February 2018
Social Policy, Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion, Housing and Homelessness, Children and Young People, Older Adults
Social welfare
Material type

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This summary draws out the key findings for Northern Ireland of a wider study looking at the circumstances, living conditions and finances of contemporary home-owners who experience poverty or have inadequate incomes.

It is based on data from the 2013/14 Understanding Society survey.

Policy implications: 

  • Policymakers in Northern Ireland should examine the targeting of mortgage safety nets and the potential impacts of converting Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) to an equity loan. Claims for SMI should automatically trigger housing and debt advice.
  • The region should also support smooth exits from the tenure – through mortgage rescue or assisted voluntary sales depending on vulnerability – if demonstrably unsustainable.

  • To help home-owners manage their circumstances themselves, policymakers should work with lenders to support the porting of mortgages. They should also consider mechanisms to facilitate loan modifications for struggling but sustainable borrowers.

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