Housing: Enniskillen

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Development – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:45 pm on 27th April 2015.

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Photo of Sean Lynch Sean Lynch Sinn Féin 2:45 pm, 27th April 2015

2. Mr Lynch asked the Minister for Social Development how many social housing units will have been completed within the new Enniskillen district electoral area during this mandate. (AQO 8019/11-15)

Photo of Mervyn Storey Mervyn Storey DUP

The number of social housing units completed in the new Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area during this mandate from 2010-11 to 2014-15 is 139 units. The Housing Executive is responsible for assessing the level of social housing need, determining the need for schemes in specific areas and formulating the social housing programme. The Housing Executive also carries out an annual housing needs assessment of all district councils to examine the supply and demand of new social housing. This assessment is then used to determine the Housing Executive’s unmet housing needs prospectus, which identifies locations where there is general unmet housing need beyond the schemes included in the social housing development programme and where it has not been possible to secure new-build sites.

Housing need is identified by the number deemed to be in housing stress. This is where applicants have 30 points or more on the Housing Executive’s housing selection scheme. Housing need in Northern Ireland is addressed through the social housing development programme in a fair and equitable way. Much has been achieved in addressing housing need, and there is no doubt that the serious financial challenges we face moving forward will make this an increasingly difficult task. However, the delivery of social housing will remain a priority for me, my Department and the Housing Executive.

Photo of Sean Lynch Sean Lynch Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. Gabhaim buíochas leis an Aire as a fhreagra. I thank the Minister for his answer and welcome the units that he mentioned. However, Minister, there are over 600 on the waiting list in Enniskillen and another 400 throughout the rest of the county. How do you plan to alleviate that long list?

Photo of Mervyn Storey Mervyn Storey DUP

I thank the Member for his supplementary question and inform him that, after Question Time, I will meet Fermanagh and Omagh District Council to discuss, no doubt, elements of this but also its budget and other issues that it wants to bring to our attention.

The Housing Executive is working to address housing stress levels in the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area in a number of ways. For example, housing stress is addressed most notably through the re-letting of existing stock, the refurbishment of void properties and the allocation of new-build schemes. The number of new social homes required is based on the annual housing need assessment, which examines the supply and demand, highlights any areas where there are gaps and predicts what will be required over a five-year period to develop the social housing development programme. If there are other specific areas that the Member wants to raise with us, I am more than happy to give him more detail.

Photo of Tom Elliott Tom Elliott UUP 3:00 pm, 27th April 2015

I thank the Minister for that update. Has the number of people in housing stress in the Fermanagh area generally increased or decreased over the last few years?

Photo of Mervyn Storey Mervyn Storey DUP

For the Member's information, I have the current waiting lists in that area. At December 2014, there were 1,400 applicants on the waiting list for the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area, 774 of whom were in the Fermanagh area, with 626 in the Omagh area. A total of 488 applicants on the waiting list are deemed to be in housing stress, of whom 307 are in the Fermanagh area and 181 are in the Omagh area. I do not know how that compares with the previous year. However, I am more than happy to provide that information to the Member.

Photo of Chris Lyttle Chris Lyttle Alliance

Does the Minister know when the Housing Executive maintenance programme to install cavity wall insulation in homes in the Braniel estate in east Belfast, which was scheduled for October 2013, will be delivered?

Photo of John Dallat John Dallat Social Democratic and Labour Party

I do not think that that question relates to the main one. The Minister has a choice.

Photo of Mervyn Storey Mervyn Storey DUP

I appreciate that the Member is seeking to be inventive. However, going from Fermanagh to Braniel is pretty inventive. Even for the Alliance Party, that stretches the definition of being inventive. I am happy to get a written answer to the Member. It will probably be after 7 May.