Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Total review of Housing sector required

7 March, 2006

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Cllr Fra McCann has written to British direct rule housing minister David Hanson calling for a root and branch review of social housing across the north. Cllr McCann said:

"Sinn Féin have been warning the British Government for some time to take this issue seriously. Failure to do so will lead to a serious crisis. We are in at that stage at present. We need a total review of the housing sector.

"David Henson needs to urgently take stock of the situation and bring together those people with experience to oversee this review. While the office of the deputy prime minister in England has declared major investment in social and affordable housing and a similar 3 billion euro initiative has been undertaken in the 26 counties, the complete opposite is happening in the north, where the supply of social housing is virtually non existent. 98.5% of all housing being built is in the private sector.

"The government's interpretation of an affordable sector is a joke. Land prices have spiralled out of control, speculators in many areas dominate the housing sector and are buying up houses and renting them at exorbitant rates. There are also big year-on-year increases in mortgage repositions and a serious lack of investment in the social sector and affordable housing.

"The result is crisis. Yet, communities are being told to organise themselves and battle against anti-social elements and build sustainable communities. While communities are rising to the challenge, it is government that is walking away from its obligations and deserting those communities most in need.

"The only way this crisis can be effectively dealt with is by initiating a full review of the housing market, particularly focusing on social housing and from that develop a strategy which will take us out of this mess.

"I have asked for an meeting with the housing minister where I will be making the case for urgent action. Everyone knows we are in a crisis, the government have bean told often enough that this is the case. Yet, they have buried their heads in the sand. It is time for them to wake-up, listen to those on the ground and with the expertise on housing and give leadership on this issue." ENDS

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