Housing Executive Maintenance Contracts

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 3rd November 2020.

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Photo of Rachel Woods Rachel Woods Green 3:15 pm, 3rd November 2020

T7. Miss Woods asked the Minister for Communities to confirm the value of maintenance contracts that have been awarded in this financial year, given that she will be aware of the negative impact that the pandemic has had on the maintenance of social housing and the urgent need to address that, with roughly £450 million of maintenance contracts awarded by the Housing Executive and a further £90 million expected to go to tender in the next 12 months. (AQT 617/17-22)

Photo of Carál Ní Chuilín Carál Ní Chuilín Sinn Féin

I will get the exact figure for the Member, because it has changed. It has changed because, as we mentioned earlier, there have been procurement challenges in some areas that have put back maintenance contracts. The threshold for challenging procurement contracts is so low that anyone with 250 quid can go into a court to object to millions of pounds of procurement to alleviate some of the worst conditions that people are living in. That is a disgrace. As I say, I will get the Member the exact figure.

The Housing Executive has brought forward a pilot scheme in its southern region that has brought the procurement list down by 40-odd weeks. I am willing to learn lessons from that and bring them forward. I know that the Member knows this, but the restriction to emergency repairs has created a wider gap in the maintenance programme. I will get a response to the Member, because I am also keen to find out exactly what the figure is.

Photo of Rachel Woods Rachel Woods Green

I thank the Minister for her answer. In the light of the severe levels of condensation and rising damp that pose a health risk to many Housing Executive tenants, which is an issue in my constituency, can the Minister confirm whether any contracts currently out for tender include urgent work on ventilation and the installation of replacement damp-proof courses, specifically for Northern Ireland Housing Executive tenants in North Down?

Photo of Carál Ní Chuilín Carál Ní Chuilín Sinn Féin

I will get the Member that information and detail. Unfairly, some families are being reared in houses where they have been impacted by respiratory conditions resulting from the conditions that they live in. That is a disgrace. I know that the Housing Executive is completely uncomfortable with that as well. I will get the detail and the information that she has asked for.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

The Members who were due to ask topical questions 9 and 10 are not in their seats. Therefore, that brings Question Time to an end. I ask Members to take their ease for a moment or two.

(Mr Deputy Speaker [Mr Beggs] in the Chair)