More than £1m spent on temporary accommodation

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A Foyle MLA has described the £1million plus spent by the Housing Executive in Derry last year on temporary accommodation as “astonishing.”

SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey obtained the figures via a question in the Assembly to the north’s housing minister.

The figures reveal that over £1.1 million was paid to private landlords who provide temporary accommodation in the last year while the cost for the year so far has already exceeded £1.4million.

“The astonishing figures outlined in the answer to my written question reveals just how much public money is being spent by the Housing Executive in Derry alone in providing a growing number of properties for temporary accommodation. What’s worse, is that these figures are only approximate, we could realistically be looking at much more,” he says.

“In 2009/10, there were 141 properties at a cost of £957,320, increasing to 171 properties the following year at a cost of £1,169,272. In this current year so far there are 210 properties being used by the Housing Executive, at a massive cost of £1,435,980. There are two issues here; primarily why is the public purse paying the mortgages of local landlords instead of investing in social housing programmes, and what plans does the Minister for Social Development have to tackle the growing number of properties being used as temporary accommodation?

“I have submitted a follow-up question to the Minister to ask just that. It is not the fault of the local Housing Executive - we must accommodate applicants, it is the strategy of the Department that is flawed. We must invest in our social housing sector rather than adopting a short term approach and paying dearly for it,” he says.