Housing Executive Tenants: Debt

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Development – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:45 pm on 11th December 2000.

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Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 3:45 pm, 11th December 2000

9. asked the Minister for Social Development to detail the debt of Housing Executive tenants for each of the last three years.

(AQO 453/00)

Photo of Mr Maurice Morrow Mr Maurice Morrow DUP 4:00 pm, 11th December 2000

Existing tenant debt in the last three years is as follows: for 1997-98, £10·8 million; for 1998-99, £11·5 million; for 1999-2000, £12·3 million.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I thank the Minister for his response. I am not surprised that it indicates an upward trend. Will the Minister take that into account when determining the new rent and rates rise that will be levied on those who rent Housing Executive properties? It is evident that as more and more people are now in low-paid employment, they have more difficulties in paying their Housing Executive debt.

Photo of Mr Maurice Morrow Mr Maurice Morrow DUP

I have listened carefully to the advice given to me. I can assure the Member that it will be so. I also want to reassure the Assembly in relation to rent arrears. This is not something that the Housing Executive takes lightly. It has a very robust policy for gathering in rent arrears. It is something that I do not take lightly either. There should be a determined effort to ensure that all tenants pay their rents; it is a tragedy when only some are actually doing so. One half pays, and the other half lets it. I do not think it is as bad as that, but I am concerned about the level of rent arrears. It is a matter that we will be considering seriously. I can assure the Member that it will not be lightly treated by any means.

Photo of Danny Kennedy Danny Kennedy UUP

I am grateful to the Minister for his answer. Will he provide the Assembly with a detailed analysis of the debt that is outstanding on a regional basis and, indeed, on a local district office basis so that Members of this House and the general public can see where the debt is?

Photo of Mr Maurice Morrow Mr Maurice Morrow DUP

I do not have a problem with doing that if is possible to do so. If it is possible, the Department will provide that information, for it is not trying to hide away from this issue. It is a good question, and I will certainly address it. I will write to the Member with all the details that he has asked for.