Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Ulster University house price index puts pressure on Minister to act

30 August, 2007

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann has said that the latest quarterly house price index published by the University of Ulster showing that average house prices increased by over 50% in the past year demanded an urgent response from Housing Minister Margaret Ritchie.

Mr McCann said:

"This latest report highlights again, if it was needed, the extent of the housing crisis. First time buyers are in particularly being forced out of a housing market that is dominated by property developers, speculators, private landlords and the buy-to-let market.

"There is an affordability crisis when just about 1 in 10 homes costs less than £150,000. We are also seeing high levels of mortgage repossession because people are taking on mortgages that they cannot afford to pay.

"Yet all we hear from the housing minister is excuses. It is time for action. While there is some slow down in price increases in recent months the fact is that this is being accompanied by a slow down in new building. And still there is virtually no indication of what is going to be done about the failure of the social and affordable housing sectors

"There are a number steps and initiatives that can and should be taken immediately.

"The full implementation of Section 40 would immediately begin to bring housing - both social and affordable housing - on stream.

"Margaret Ritchie could also use the considerable land banks that are available to her department to negotiate with developers to deliver significant new build programmes to increase the numbers of social and affordable houses.

"Margaret needs to start showing some leadership and some initiative in dealing with housing crisis. There is no point standing idly by and blaming others. If she is not sure what to do I will happily work with her to ensure that the steps she can and should be taking are progressed." ENDS

Note to Editors

Fra McCann will be meeting the Chairperson of the Private Landlords Association later this morning.

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