Minister for Social Development, Nelson McCausland, faced members’ questions on Monday 3 February 2014. During regular oral questions the Minister answered questions on choice based lettings, the social housing development programme, rent arrears within the Housing Executive and the rate of housing repossessions as well as addressing the success of the boiler replacement scheme and his assessment of the current chair of the Housing Executive.
The Minister defended the chair of the Housing Executive against perceived underspending, praising his “wealth of experience in social housing” as he “took an incredibly difficult job” with “extremely difficult legacy problems”.
Over the 3 year duration of the Boiler Replacement Scheme, it is hoped that £18m worth of funding will result in 24000 units replaced. The scheme has been viewed as a great success so far and it is expected to continue to prove a popular and fruitful scheme.
During topical questions Mr McCausland was provided the opportunity to respond to Dolores Kelly’s recent comments on social housing in North Belfast and how Catholics are being discriminated against. The Minister strenuously refuted the claims pointing to official Housing Executive figures that show that the number of Protestants and Catholics on the waiting list is very similar and is in proportion to the percentage of people living in the area from each community. He said that “you can’t get around facts” and that he wished to use them to “rectify the falsehoods and the innuendos that some people propagate in this regard”.
Mr McCausland also answered further topical questions on social homes built without cavity wall insulation and double glazing contracts.