No new social housing in 2008
Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann has said that the comments from Housing Minster Margaret Ritchie that there 'might not be any social housing new builds next year' represent a deep and profound failure.
Cllr McCann said:
"Every department has budgetary pressures and every department needs more money. This is particularly true in areas such as health, education and housing. However, Ministers need to not just prioritise their bids they also need to make sure that they can protect and deliver on core commitments.
"Already the proposals from Margaret Ritchie for her next budget have come in for serious criticism. Plans to cut the Housing Executive grants by 50% and proposals to cut the Warm Homes Scheme by £10 million will be hugely damaging.
"But the Margaret Ritchie's admission that she might not be able to deliver any new social housing builds next year is perhaps the most damming. It is a serious indictment on her management of her budget. All ministries are experiencing funding difficulties yet Margaret Ritchie is the only one that is failed to manage her finances and assets to allow priority areas to be dealt with.
"You cannot give a private company over £3m for the Belfast Eye and then complain that there is no money for social housing, particularly when there are some 36,000 on the waiting lists.
"While I will continue to argue for greater prioritisation of housing within the budget the fact is that the Department of Social Development also has lands and properties assets worth millions of pounds lying idle that could be used to develop social housing. We could also see an initiative to tackle the scandal of vacant properties. We have already seen other Ministers come up with imaginative solutions such as this to sort out their own funding problems. " ENDS