During today’s topical questions Minister for Social Development, Nelson McCausland, revealed that Northern Ireland will be included in the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme recently announced by Prime Minister, David Cameron. Homes can be bought with a 5% deposit and banks such as RBS and Lloyds will be participating in the scheme. When Megan Fearon pressed the Minister on whether there would be an increase in social housing units to cope with demand, Mr McCausland expressed his dismay that many housing associations “haven’t stepped up to the mark” (with some having done no building at all) and assured the House that he would be pressing them to rise to the challenge.
Jim Allister then questioned the Minister on the future of the Directors of Design and Property Services who oversaw the Northern Ireland Housing Executive
contracts associated with the alleged £18m overpayment on planned
maintenance. Mr McCausland was reluctant to deliver any verdicts before
the results of the report commissioned by the NIHE board into the
overpayments are delivered. He revealed that the report is anticipated
to be with the board “within a matter of days”. The Minister was also
keen to stress that this was a matter entirely for the NIHE and that
they would decide on any further appropriate action based on the
findings of the external consultant.
The Minister also updated the Chamber on the progress of public
realms works in Bangor and Holywood, the consultation processes used by
housing associations, and how it was anticipated that town and city
centre regeneration would be encouraged through the extension of the ‘Living over the shop’ scheme. An initiative that he hopes will “diversify and re-energise town and city centres”.
View Question Time official report.
View Oral Questions answered by the Minister.