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Housing minister accused of covering up extent of housing crisis

3 April, 2006

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann has accused British Direct Rule Housing minister, David Hanson of covering up the real extent of the housing crisis and manufacturing figures.

Mr McCann's comments after the publication of the Department of Social Development corporate plan today, and the claim by Mr Hanson that they will allocate 10,700 houses in 2006-07 despite being unable to identify how many new houses will be built in the social sector.

Cllr McCann said:

"I seriously doubt if the claim to allocate over 10,000 homes this year will stack up to scrutiny.

"The fact is that we are only bringing on stream a very limited number of social new build, perhaps only a few hundred on a yearly basis. Over 98% of all building new starts are in the private sector. Yet over 18,000 people declare themselves homeless every year and thousands more endure misery trapped in hostel accommodation or on the Housing Executive waiting lists.

"Mr Hanson has also claimed in the report that everyone has access to good quality affordable housing in the tenure of their choice. This is very misleading. The only form of 'so-called' affordable housing being pursed by the minister is co-ownership yet in many cases this proves more costly over the 25 years of a mortgage.

"The clear failure to recognise the importance of prices on the housing sector leads to a flawed analysis of the problem. Mr Hanson plays down the fact that the super inflated price of houses and land is stopping people from securing affordable quality homes, particularly in rural communities.

"This is having a huge impact on the rural way of life, particularly as the situation is compounded by the fact that there is little or no social housing being built in rural areas or indeed anywhere.

"David Hanson is trying to cover up the real extent of the housing crisis by manufacturing figures. We don‚t need new Labour spin, what is required is a fundamental review of the social and affordable housing sectors and action to address the years of neglect and under provision." ENDS

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