Mid Ulster has the fewest number of people receiving housing benefits

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Mid Ulster has the lowest number of Housing Benefit claimants in the country.

Only 8,412 people from the council area are claiming either a full or partial housing benefit

Mid Ulster map

Mid Ulster map

The region has a population of around 142,000, meaning that just six per cent of everyone living here is a housing benefit claimant.

Derry and Strabane, with a similar population, albeit more urban, has 20,732 claimants – almost two and a half times the number of claimants in Mid Ulster.

Overall 163,319 people claim housing benefit in Northern Ireland. This equates to around nine per cent of the 1,810,863 people in the country.

The statistics were revealed following a question to the Minister for Social Development by Mid Ulster MLA Ian Milne.

Whilst the figures indicate the area has some lowest number of recipients of housing benefit when they are taken as a percentage of the potential claimant base the figures are roughly on a par with other largely rural areas.

“My research question was posed as part of an in depth investigation I am carrying out as to whether or not our social housing provision is meeting real need across the Mid Ulster constituency,” Mr Milne said.

“Indications suggest that demand substantially outweighs availability. This will not come as a surprise to those people and families on the social housing waiting list and who are experiencing housing stress.

“The number of people claiming housing benefit far exceeds Housing Executive and housing associations stock which ultimately means that a large proportion of claimants are in the private rental sector.

“When you take into account that private rents are often significantly higher and that housing benefit does not cover the full cost in the majority of cases, while also taking into account that those who have an entitlement to help with their rent are either in receipt of benefits or on low incomes, it quickly becomes clear that this is an additional financial burden on those who can least afford it.”

A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said: “Whilst the figures indicate the area has some lowest number of recipients of housing benefit when they are taken as a percentage of the potential claimant base the figures are roughly on a par with other largely rural areas.

“The Housing Executive encourages everyone to check if they are entitled to housing benefit. This is promoted through our local offices, our online media and other partner agencies including housing associations and the Social Security Agency.

“The Housing Executive regularly assesses housing need to help formulate and manage the delivery of the social housing development programme. For the Mid Ulster Council area the need for the period 2014-19 has been assessed as 565 units.

“This provision, together with the re-allocation of Housing Executive and housing association properties as well as private rented sector provision, are expected to largely satisfy need in Mid-Ulster.”