SDLP Housing spokesperson Mark H Durkan has expressed his concerns that social housing build targets still lags behind.
In August 2020 it was announced that only 41% of the social housing build target was achieved for 2019/2020.
Mr Durkan has criticised Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey for ‘being economical with the truth’ following an announcement from her Department that new social homes started in 2020/21 exceeded the target for the year by 30%.
Said the Foyle MLA: “The need for increased social housing here is prevalent and I fear will become even more so as we enter a post-pandemic landscape.
“Last August it became clear that the North missed over half of the social housing build target for 2019, while understandable giving the unprecedented challenges the pandemic played in the ability to build these homes, what was gravely concerning if not bewildering was the £19 million cut in the social housing build budget for 2020/21.
“Now here we are, seven months down the line with Minister Hargey once more employing her favoured smoke and mirrors tactic, championing the fact that this year’s social housing build target has been not only been reached but has been exceeded by 30%.
“Considering that 59% of the target build was not met last year, this cannot and should not be painted as a success story.
Mr Durkan said that unfortunately the North’s social housing stock is nowhere near the level it needs to be.
“People deserve transparency rather than a cheap grab at self-promotion.
“The Executive pledged under the New Decade, New Approach deal, to enhance investment in new build social housing.
“The Minister must also ensure that any new ringfencing policy has inbuilt flexibilities to respond to circumstances and need.
“Evidently, addressing social housing requires more innovative thinking.
“We need to be looking towards a reformed private rented sector and the repurposing of existing stock, but no elected representative can sincerely be satisfied by the current rate at which we are building much needed social homes.
“Meanwhile families continue to struggle in overcrowded conditions and properties wholly unsuitable to their needs.
“A battle which has been fully realised over the past 12 months.
“The creation of improved social housing must remain a key objective going forward – not just to feed current demand but to allow the construction industry to get back on its feet and in turn create vital jobs,” added Mr Durkan.Tags: