Swann says action needed on ‘housing crisis’

NORTH Antrim Ulster Unionist MLA Robin Swann has challenged the DUP’s Minister of Social Development Nelson McCausland “to do more to address housing need crisis in the North Antrim area”.

Mr Swann said: “Given the impact of the so-called “bedroom tax” where residents will lose housing benefit if they are assessed as having too many bedrooms, I asked the Minister responsible for social housing Nelson McCausland to detail the number of one and two- bedroom housing units being built in North Antrim.

“In reply, the Minister has stated that over the next three years, 23 new one-bedroom units and 107 two-bedroom units will be constructed. He has also stated that housing associations will be encouraged to build more.

“First, I believe that the number planned will in no way meet the demands should the bedroom tax be implemented in full in Northern Ireland and secondly rather than encouraging associations to build more, as Minister, he should be directing that more should be built.

“A further deficiency in the Minister’s statement relates to the future care of older people in supported housing, particularly in one-bedroom units as proposed by the DUP’s Edwin Poots, leading to the proposed closure of units such as Pinewood in Ballymena.

“Surely we still are waiting for a statement from the DSD Minister of an investment package for supported housing to meet the needs of older people or has the DSD Minister completely abdicated his responsibility,” said Assemblyman Swann.