Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Concern at possible cut to Housing Association funding

6 June, 2008

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann has called on the Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie to tell the truth about the intention to cut the Housing Association Block Grant by 10%.

Mr McCann said:

"In February this year the Minister announced that the block grant paid to housing associations would be cut by 10%. Bizarrely she said this would allow them to tap into the huge resources Housing Associations had but also that it would not impact on the ability of the Housing Associations to deliver on their new build programme

"From that time I have been concerned that this announcement would have a detrimental impact on those ether living in or waiting to move to a house under Housing Association ownership.

"Since then I have also spoken to a number of senior officials from Housing Associations and they all told me that rather than dipping into whatever reserves the Minister thinks they have that the only way the Housing Associations can make up for this shortfall is by raising rents.

"Housing Association rents are already far higher than those charged by the Housing Executive and further hikes in rents will put Housing Association rents on a par with those in the unregistered and unregulated private rented sector.

"The Housing Minister has serious questions to answer; for example was Margaret Ritchie aware that this would be the consequence of her February announcement? Does she not realise that people are already feeling the pinch paying inflated rents in housing association dwellings?

"I will be asking the Minister to ensure that these rents will not be raised. She also needs to clarify her position and explain whether it was her intention to force the Housing Associations to increase their rents. I believe she can and should to move to stop this and move further to reduce Housing Association rents to the same level as that set by the Housing Executive." ENDS

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