Committee Seeks Urgent Answers on Housing Executive Contracts
Date: Thursday, 20 June 2013
Reference: SD 07/12/13
The Assembly Committee for Social Development was briefed today by Donald Hoodless, the recently appointed Chairperson of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Dr John McPeake, the Chief Executive of the Housing Executive.
The meeting, focused on the recent report into the organisation’s mishandling of planned maintenance contracts which has revealed that overpayments have been made to 6 contractors totalling an estimated £18m.
The Chair of the Social Development Committee Alex Maskey MLA said: “We cannot overstate the seriousness of this situation. The Committee was shocked by the Minister’s recent statement to the Assembly and all Members have grave concerns as to how this situation was allowed to develop undetected for such an extended period of time.
“The Committee acknowledges that the specific causes of overpayments are yet to be determined and therefore we look forward to the outcome of the external review in early September.
Mr Maskey continued: “The Committee has made it very clear to Mr Hoodless and Dr McPeake that as well as a comprehensive analysis of what has gone wrong, the reviews announced by the Minister must put safeguards in place to ensure that this situation can never reoccur. Members also want to ensure that, where practicable, all overpayments are recovered as soon as possible and without any further cost to the public purse.
“Mr Maskey concluded, “The reform of the Housing Executive will be a key issue for the Committee over the next 12 months in light of the Department’s plans to revamp the purpose, remit and future structure of the organisation.
“As a Committee, we are determined that all future decisions will come about only after a full and comprehensive consultation process with the Department, Housing Executive, the Committee and all major stakeholders. Together we must ensure that any new housing structures are designed to meet the needs of our local communities.”