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Minister urged to rethink her housing budget costs – McCann

9 April, 2009 - by Fra McCann

Fra McCann MLA for West Belfast has again called on Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie to rethink the decision to cut the housing budget which deals with Egan maintenance contracts and urgent replacements, many of which people have been waiting for years. Many of these kitchen and windows replacements are required under health and safety.   Mr McCann said,   “At a time when the construction industry is under severe threat Margaret Ritchie’s decision could throw 1000 workers onto the dole, if this was another industry her party colleagues would be up in arms.   This week Mark Durkin announced the SDLPs policy on economic recovery; what has he to say to those hundreds who will lose their jobs due to his minister’s latest decision?   Margaret Ritchie has said she will assist the construction industry by building more houses; the fact is that many of the houses she acquired have been on the open market or bought directly from developers, like the Curzan cinema development on the Ormeau Road.   It is my understanding that at the time of contracts, £35 million would be the allocated spend; this was to be spread across 5 housing executive regions. A An allocated spend of £10 million has been muted across the 5 regions which will have serious implications for small contractors who rely on these contracts to survive.   I again say that this is short sighted and counter productive and will eventually cost more in the long run dealing with properties which will fall further into disrepair. We must also ask, what about the new tenant’s repairs? How long will people have to stay in a hostel or live in their parent’s home because the minister can’t allocate her budget properly?” CRÍOCH

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