27 Sep 2023

Over 45,000 people requiring housing assistance in Northern Ireland and there is a growing need for sustainable housing that offers tenants independent living, along with the provision of social and financial support.

With the cost-of-living crisis affecting tenants daily lives, Choice has delivered a range of vital support services, with a focus on financial management and sustainable tenancies. 

  • Pre-intervention work for example provides tenants with much needed budgeting advise ahead of agreeing a tenancy.
  • Working with Advice NI, bespoke mandatory training is delivered to all Choice housing management staff to allow them to better advise tenants on the impacts and potential consequences of welfare reform.
  • The development of a household budget planner for all tenants. 

Through the pre-intervention work Choice identified and supported 388 tenancies through natural migration to universal credit in 2022/23.

The Choice Financial Inclusion service has seen demand grow from 508 requests in 2020/21 to 973 referrals in 2022/23. This support provided to tenants, included a range of advice and guidance on benefits, financial assistance and grants and application processes.

Choice introduced a Tenant Financial Support Fund (TFSF) in 2021/22 allocating funding of £250k to assist tenants experiencing financial hardship.  In its first year of operation, c470 tenants availed of this initiative.  This fund was expanded in 2022/23 with an increased budget of £500k directly assisting over 2,000 tenants with emergency energy vouchers and/or essential household items namely whitegoods and beds.

To maximise the impact of this Fund, the most vulnerable groups were prioritised to ensure it benefitted those who most needed assistance.

To deliver on the Framework, Choice established a Service Level Agreement with Bryson Charitable Group to administer the awards in voucher form for fuel poverty and by means of purchase, delivery, installation, and removal of old goods relating to household items. 


Choice developed further partnerships with two well-established charitable organisations already working in the areas of food poverty and home starter packs.  This collaboration helped Choice deliver the Fund and reached c4,000 households throughout Northern Ireland.  Choice donated £40k of the Fund to the Trussell Trust and Homeless Connect.

“Many tenants don’t present as struggling financially, prioritising their rent yet leaving them with little money to survive on. Therefore, our Financial Inclusion Team attend various community events, estate walkabouts etc to conduct benefit surgeries and actively seek out those struggling.”

Aidan McCrea, Financial Inclusion Manager at Choice