‘Year of evictions’ looming - Hassan

Tony Hassan.
Tony Hassan.

2012 will be a year of evictions in Derry if planned cuts to the housing benefit system go ahead, a local councillor has said.

Sinn Féin councillor Tony Hassan made the warning ahead of plans to cut housing benefit by 50 per cent.

Colr. Hassan called on the Social Development minister, Nelson McCausland, to explain how the proposed cuts will impact on the housing situation and what steps are being taken to reduce waiting lists in areas like Derry.

“A number of people have contacted my consistency office this week very concerned at letters they received from the Housing Executive stating that from January 2012 their Housing Benefit will be cut by 50%.

“These people will have to give up their homes as they will not be able to pay the rent on the properties,” Colr. Hassan said.

The Shantallow colr. said the move will lead to a “total crisis” in housing.

“Minister McCausland is in danger of becoming the minister for evictions in 2012 if he continues to forge ahead with Tory welfare cuts.

“On the one hand, under the Thatcherite welfare reform bill, the proposed changes to Housing Benefits for single people under age 35 will make over 6,000 people homeless while the further cuts to people’s housing benefit of 13% for properties where it is deemed there is one extra room and cut by 25% if there are two rooms will place ever greater hardship upon people struggling to pay rents.

“This, on the other hand, stands in stark contrast to the current housing crisis where there is simply not enough housing stock in the social housing sector to meet even the current levels of demand.

“Nelson McCausland, as the minister with responsibility in both these sectors must tell the Assembly how he intends to square this circle,” Colr. Hassan said.