West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Inflexibility of Minister a 'recipe for disaster'.

Published: 13 November, 2012

Sinn Féin Mid Tyrone Councillor Anne Marie Fitzgerald has criticised the inflexibility of DUP Minister Nelson McCasland in ruling out a six month delay in the implementation of the so called 'bedroom tax', which is due to be introduced next April. It will see people on housing benefits being charged for under occupancy. McCausland was speaking at a Federation of Housing Associations conference last Friday.

Stating that the inflexibility of the minister could see people being left homeless the Mid Tyrone councillor said:

"I would have liked a six month extension to allow tenants and landlords the breathing space to October 2013 to make alternative arrangements. However the minister has stated that within weeks of the passage of the legislation this will become enforceable and will see tenants charged for vacant rooms. In many cases this will see tenets having a shortfall of rent. The inflexibility of the Minister in regards the bed room tax is staggering, it is simply a recipe for disaster, which will see many people being left homeless and will cause great stress and inconvenience for everyone else affected.

"Throughout the north of Ireland there is a complete lack of single occupancy accommodation, therefore, particularly tenets will need to assess their options and prepare for the changes which are coming in April next year, which is only a few months away. Indeed the minister has yet to address the issue around the lack of single occupancy accommodation in the north, which is such a fundamental issue given what we are facing.

"Right from the outset the Minister has been reluctant to challenge the Tory cuts agenda and whilst there have been some concessions, these were only agreed after pressure from other parties, including Sinn Féin in the Assembly.

"We as a party believe there should be the establishment of an ad hoc committee to examine the human rights aspects of the Tory driven welfare reform bill. We will be bringing a motion to the Assembly in the coming weeks to this effect. What is becoming increasingly clear is that unless more concessions are given to the unique circumstances of the north of Ireland many more thousands of people will bear the full brunt of the Tory cuts agenda.CRÍOCH