Owners out in cold over Home Loss Payments
IF you lived in, say, Tunbridge Wells and a Government department compulsorily purchased your home, you would be entitled to a disturbance payment in addition to the market value. This is called a Home Loss Payment and could be worth up to £45,000.
On the other hand, if your abode was in Belfast, it is likely that you would not be entitled to anything.
Why? It's because the Department for Social Development (DSD) here interprets the legislation in a rather different manner from the way it is effectively applied in the rest of the UK.
DSD asserts that a Home Loss Payment is only available for people who agreed the sale of their home to a Government department before it was vested.
In practice, this means very few people in Northern Ireland would ever get a Home Loss Payment.
I wrote to the minister, Nelson McCausland, and pointed out that the Northern Ireland legislation was not being correctly applied.
I finished by saying: "I do not think that the officials in your department are interpreting this legislation correctly but, if they are, why are residents being treated so unfairly compared with their counterparts in the rest of the UK?" The DSD responded and simply said: "I regret I am not in a position to comment on equivalent, or similar legislation that apply to other jurisdictions."
So, we have a tale of two cities – and one of them doesn't care about its inhabitants.