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Concern at lack of detail on social housing

26 February, 2008

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson Fra McCann MLA has welcomed the statement from the Housing Minister on her plans to provide more affordable housing but expressed concern about the lack of detail on how to tackle the crisis in social housing, with over 36,000 people on the waiting list.

Mr McCann said:

"The Executive has now provided a substantially increased housing budget so we need to get serious about tackling the housing crisis we are facing.

"This means that we need to tackle both affordability and the provision of social housing.

"It means we need to make sure that developers provide social and affordable housing. Sinn Féin believe that 25% of all new private housing developments should be set aside for social and affordable housing. Article 40 already allows for this and we need to see urgent progress.

"Sinn Féin also first identified the problem of empty homes and we will be monitoring this closely to ensure that the thousands of empty homes are brought back onto the market. These empties represent a wasted resources that also act as a magnet for anti-social behaviour in our communities.

"However, there are very serious concerns about so much emphasis on co-ownership because the evidence shows that this is far more costly option in the long run. There seems to be far too much emphasis on a Thatcherite approach to housing.

"If we are to make a real difference then the focus must be on social housing. It is disappointing that the Minster has missed the opportunity to give greater detail on increasing social housing.

"I am also concerned that there has been no move to regulate the private rented sector because this sector is not just destabilising the wider housing market it is also open to abuse by profiteers." ENDS

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