Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Housing must remain high on spending agenda

12 October, 2004

Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew has voiced concerns that housing is dropping down the priorities of British direct rule ministers.

Michelle Gildernew said:

"With Budget Proposals for the six counties due to be released in less than a week the indications are that housing is set to drop down the agenda. We must not let that happen.

"In Fermanagh we have seen unprecedented rises in the cost of housing - this is a real issue for young people trying to set up home on their own, particularly those with young children.

"The direct rule minister with responsibility for housing, Ian Pearson, seems to be happy to let housing drop down the agenda in the six counties. However for thousands of people unable to get affordable social housing it remains a number one priority.

"Housing is also a key concern to people who have seen up to three years slippage on home improvements to kitchens and bathrooms. Receipts from housing benefits go into finance and the general pot while houses are allowed to deteriorate with all the social implications that entails. Money needs to be spent on maintaining housing executive stock to higher standards. Direct rule ministers shouldn't be allowed to bleed housing dry.

"It is clear that housing standards important to the health and well being of our whole population but particularly for older and younger members of our community. Damp can be a killer to the elderly and to children and leads to unnecessary and unwelcome visits to the GP and hospital. The increase in respiratory diseases is something that we must combat with every means at our disposal and that underlines the need for warm, dry, well-maintained housing.

"We can't allow housing stock to rot. While other governments are making housing a top four priority it looks as if we are expected to accept further neglect at the hands of a direct rule minister. It is imperative that social housing should be provided and maintained." ENDS

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