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Concern that Ritchie Housing plan will lead to ‘privatisation’ of social housing

4 March, 2008

Sinn Féin MLA Housing Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Cllr Fra McCann, has challenged the Social Development minister Margaret Ritchie to spell out her position on the house sales scheme.

In her statement to the assembly on last week on the extension to the house sales scheme Margaret Ritchie said that everyone can buy a share of their home. This has left many people wondering exactly what is meant by this and what are the implications for the general social housing stock.
Mr McCann said:

"There is a huge concern that Margaret Ritchie is intending to do away with social housing altogether with her clear intent to privatise the delivery of new social housing.

"The question that many many people are asking is about what happens to those on the waiting lists.

"The housing executive depends on re-lets to deal with a percentage of the waiting list and with less and less social housing being built more of a reliance is placed on these re-lets - and again more and more people will be forced into the unregulated private rented sector.

"The challenge for Margaret Ritchie is to explain to the 38,000 on the waiting list how they will be re-housed if there is no turnover of houses with in the social housing constituency - or the 20,000 people who declare themselves homeless every year, or the young people who cant afford to buy a house and rely on a social housing. It appears under this proposal that opportunity will disappear.

"Margaret Ritchie needs to end the confusion around this and spell out what she means, and if she is intending to privatise social housing then she should be honest and say so." ENDS

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