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DSD fund for those under threat runs dry

2 September, 2009

Coleraine Sinn Féin councillor Billy Leonard has said that he has learned that the special scheme to help people move home because of threats against them has been, in effect, closed down.

The Department of Social Development (DSD) instructed the Housing Executive in late August not to make any more “contractual commitments” until more money is granted by the Department. No indication is given as to when such funds could be available for the scheme which is called the Scheme for Purchase of Evacuated Dwellings (SPED).

Leonard said:

“This is a disaster for many people who are already in difficulties because of the threats and they now face a very uncertain future because they will not be able to move to safer conditions.

It is amazing that the DSD which ‘fanfares’ millions for this and that project should not make any announcement that such an important scheme was in severe difficulty. I also believe the problems will not be resolved in the short term by spending round reviews so Minister Ritchie owes the public an explanation.

“I represent an area where loyalist threats are everyday reality and people have to make use of the SPED scheme.

“A constituent came to me because his case has been in the pipeline for many months due to another issue. Now he has received a letter from the Executive stating his application will go no further. He is in severe financial difficulties as overheads on the house he needs to move from continue. The Bank is putting pressure on him and the few spare pounds he had have now gone.

“It is a personal disaster for him and I am sure there are now many more people who do not know where to turn to. I will be working with party colleagues to find out what is to happen to the scheme and how this mess can be cleared up.”

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