New Minister to prioritise social homes and welfare

Minister for Communities Deirdre Hargey has said she intends to deliver a ramped up programme of social housing construction and fast track further welfare protections.
Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey pictured on the Derry Walls recently.Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey pictured on the Derry Walls recently.
Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey pictured on the Derry Walls recently.

The Minister set out her stall as she vowed to deliver on the commitments in the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ agreement to achieve a fair and compassionate society.

The commitment will be welcomed locally, after it was confirmed recently that Derry has the highest number of homeless people in the north, with 2,526 social housing applicants accepted as homeless in Foyle as at December 2019.

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Poverty is experienced right across our community, in towns and cities and in rural and border communities. In 2017/18 approximately 292,000 people – 85,000 of them children – were living in poverty. That is unacceptable. It demonstrates the scale of the challenge and the unacceptable experience of those suffering poverty,” Minister Hargey said.

Following on from securing an extension to welfare mitigations, Ms. Hargey said: “In the coming weeks I will introduce new legislation to extend this essential mitigation. My next steps are to progress additional welfare protections to safeguard those in most in need.”

She added: “Housing is a basic need and right for all. Public housing will be a priority in this strategy.

“In the coming period I will set out my vision for the future of public housing provision using a rights-based approach. Objective need will be at the core of all decision making.

“This year £146 million is being invested to start 1,850 social homes to reduce housing waiting lists. I am aware this is not enough, and I’m committed to building more homes.”