Home-owners and poverty in Northern Ireland

Alison Wallace, David Rhodes and Firona Roth

This briefing draws out the key findings for Northen 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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