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Sinn Fein call on Housing Executive to help those in rent arrears

14 October, 2008



Sinn Féin's Paul Butler has called on the Housing Executive to provide more assistance and help for their tenants who are in rent arrears. He has also warned people who are experiencing rent arrears not to be attracted to loans and others such as moneylenders as a way out of their debt.

Sinn Féin's Paul Butler has called on the Housing Executive to provide more assistance and help for their tenants who are in rent arrears. He has also warned people who are experiencing rent arrears not to be attracted to loans and others such as moneylenders as a way out of their debt.


He was speaking after he received a response to an Assembly question asking the Minister for Social Development Margaret Ritchie for the number of Housing Executive tenants who are in arrears in two Housing Executive districts Lisburn and Dairyfarm.

Over £800,000 is owed to the Housing Executive by over 17000 tenants in both these districts. In Dairyfarm 481 tenants owe £370,711 in arrears, in Lisburn district 1282 tenants owe £457,586 in arrears.

Paul Butler said:

"Despite the fact that many people in Housing Executive properties receive some level of assistance the increase in the cost of living with higher gas and electricity charges have hit many of the poorest people in our society, particularly elderly people with small pensions, those on low incomes, and the working poor.

"Citizen Advice Bureau (CAB) figures show that nearly a third of the 5.7 million new problems dealt with by their staff in 2006-7 concerned debt. The number of people seeking debt counselling is rising at an alarming rate due to the increases in fuel, food and energy bills. Debt counselling was the biggest single issue faced by Citizens Advice Bureau.

"Rising costs in housing, food and fuel bills means many families are struggling to get by day to day .This underlines the reality that many people are surviving on inadequate incomes, have little or no savings and are therefore at high risk of running into money problems such as rent arrears.

Paul Butler continued

"I have very serious concerns about the number of people currently facing difficulties with their rent. Given the current economic climate there are very real fears that more and more people will fall into difficulties, particularly given the spiralling level of homelessness and current crisis in social housing.

"Appropriate resources, such as advice clinics, debt management services etc. need to be made available to ensure that the Housing Executive provide all the necessary support and advice required to ensure that those in rent arrears are helped.

"Furthermore, I would appeal to people who are in debt not to be taken in by those offering loans, or worse, moneylenders who are lending money at exorbitant rates of interest.

"I am concerned that these types of loans are targeted at people who are already in financial difficulties. Some companies for example, who offer unsecured loans, deliberately target people who have bad credit records, are in debt, have County Court Judgements (CCJ's) or who are in arrears with their rent. These types of loans carry much higher interest rates and often people who take these out will not be able to repay them thus putting them into even more debt." ENDS

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