asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many persons drawing supplementary benefit in Northern Ireland receive a specific rent addition as tenants of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive; how many of these are not paying their rent; what is the amount owed for arrears; and whether he proposes to take steps to prevent any misuse of the rent addition.
Some 37,000 tenants of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive receive supplementary benefit which includes a specific rent addition. At least 7,000 of these are regularly withholding payment of rent to the executive and have accumulated arrears in excess of £500,000.The Supplementary Benefits Commission for Northern Ireland which is responsible for the administration of supplementary benefits has accordingly decided that where a claimant has failed or fails to meet his rent, the rent addition will be withheld and paid direct to the Housing Executive. Each affected claimant will be notified of the arrangement. I am in full agreement with the commission's decision, which will prevent any further misuse of public funds.