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Committee Response to Department re Housing Selection Scheme 07.10.2011

Room 412
Parliament Buildings
Tel: 028 9052 1864
Fax: 028 9052 1667

7 October 2011

Our Ref: CSD/022/2011/CMcC
Ms Margaret Sisk
Department for Social Development
Lighthouse Building
1 Cromac Place
Gasworks Business Park
Ormeau Road
Belfast BT7 2JB

Dear Margaret,

Housing Selection Scheme – Preliminary Consultation

At its meeting of 29 September 2011, the Committee for Social Development considered the outcome of the preliminary consultation on the Housing Selection Scheme.

Some Members had queries in respect of the number of applicants awarded Full Duty Applicant status as a result of intimidation. As a result some Members expressed concern about the removal of the 200 intimidation points in light of a significant number of intimidation cases in 2010/2011.

Members requested that the number of cases awarded Full Duty Applicant status as a result of intimidation be reviewed on an annual basis and that this information should be fed back to the Committee. Members also requested that this information should also be used to review the number of Primary Social Needs points awarded to adequately reflect the level of intimidation suffered by the applicant, should the 200 intimidation points be removed.

Members accepted that while all forms of intimidation are to be considered unacceptable, any revisions to the scheme should allow the Housing Executive to distinguish and prioritise the intimidation cases where the PSNI consider there to be a real risk to life. Members also considered that all intimidation cases should be regularly reviewed to confirm that there was a genuine threat to the individual and to prevent abuse of the system.

Some Members argued that there should have been a root and branch review of the entire Common Housing Selection Scheme. Other issues of concern to Members were the lack of availability of hostel accommodation in areas of high demand and the risk of institutionalisation for those applicants who spend excessive amounts of time living in temporary accommodation waiting to be permanently rehoused. Members suggested that any revisions to the scheme should ensure that people are moved on from temporary accommodation within an acceptable timeframe.

A number of Members also expressed concern about the Housing Executive’s new Housing Management System. Members requested that the Committee be copied into the outcome of any future evaluation of the new Housing Management System.

Yours sincerely

Dr Kevin Pelan
Clerk, Committee for Social Development

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