Question Time: Social Development - Monday 12 January 2015

The Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey was asked at the start of Oral Question to outline the progress made in relation to developing a stragegy for Northern Irland Housing Executive multistorey blocks. The Minister stated that the Housing Executive was asked in May last year to review and identify the necessary work required and then develop a focused maintenance strategy for the 32 tower blocks sited right across Northern Ireland. To deliver on that,and as part of my Department and the Housing Executive's asset management commission, which is currently being carried out by Savills, technical survey reports for the Housing Executive's multistorey tower blocks are due by March of this year. A draft multistorey asset management strategy is then due in
May of this year. These consultancy outputs will then be taken forward by the Housing Executive to develop and progress a strategic solution for multistorey blocks in 2015 and beyond.

However, whilst this work is ongoing and awaited, I tasked the Housing Executive to prepare an interim investment plan based on its current understanding of the stock. The Housing Executive has now submitted to me an interim investment priorities plan, which is built around a number of themes, including bringing forward work to be carried out to the multistorey tower blocks. The purpose of the interim approach is to effectively bridge the gap that exists between now and the development of a comprehensive strategy for maintaining all the Housing Executive's housing assets, leading, in turn, to a clear long-term funding strategy.

The Minister was also asked about his Department's most recent analysis of the Welfare Reform Bill by Mr Lunn. The Minister said his Department published series of update reports to show the potential impact of welfare reform on local people. Those information booklets can be found in the statistics and research section of the Department’s website under the heading "Welfare Reform Briefing". Following the political discussions that led to the Stormont House Agreement, I will bring forward a paper to the Executive that puts forward further detail on the agreement and the modalities of implementing the changes. That would then enable the welfare Bill to progress through the Assembly.

The Minister was also asked about the Benefits of the Financial Support Services, the Boiler Replacement Scheme, Landlord Registration Scheme and the Regeneration Bill.

Read the full Official Report here.

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