3 February 2015

Question Time - Social Development Monday 02 February 2015


Chris Hazzard MLA asked the Minister for Social Development for an update on his Department's attempts to recover £800,000 from Trinity Housing in relation to social housing units in Crossgar, Co Down. The Minister stated that "as Members may be aware that the issue will be the subject of a Public Accounts Committee meeting on 11 February. Trinity Housing Association received an advance land purchase grant totalling £835,215 on 27 February 2008 for the purchase of a site at 19 Downpatrick Road, Crossgar, on the basis of a 12-unit social housing proposal. Due to a prolonged process with Planning Service over site character issues, objections and amenity space, the site has not been developed. OakleeTrinity is drawing up its proposal for refunding the grant, which will be submitted to the Housing Executive this month for its consideration and approval.

The Minister was also asked about Benefit Claimants. The was asked by Steven Agnew MLA whether targets, league tables or incentives are being used in relation to the number of sanctions imposed on benefit claiments in Northern Ireland. In reply to the member the Ministed said " There are no targets, league tables or incentives used in determining whether individual claimants will have their benefits sanctioned. A decision to impose a sanction on a benefit claimant will be made by a decision-maker in the Social Security Agency and will be based on the relevant regulations and individual circumstances of the case.

During Topical Questions the Minister was asked questions on Fuel Poverty and Energy Prices, Social Housing and New-build Targets, and what sense of urgency there is about the terrible and shameful problem of homelessness.