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Committee Expresses Concern Over Delays on Planned Maintenance Agreement

Synopsis: At its meeting of 10 June 2014 the Committee for Social Development expressed serious concerns on the delay in the Department’s approval of an agreement between the Housing Executive and contractors on alleged planned maintenance overpayments.

Session: 2013/2014

Date: 11 June 2014

Reference: SD 05/13/14

At its meeting of 10 June 2014 the Committee for Social Development expressed serious concerns on the delay in the Department’s approval of an agreement between the Housing Executive and contractors on alleged planned maintenance overpayments.

Speaking after the meeting, Committee Chairperson Alex Maskey MLA said: “On the 10 June 2013, the Minister made a statement to the Assembly on alleged overpayments of £18 million to contractors in respect of planned maintenance contracts. Over the following months, the Housing Executive and contractors engaged in protracted negotiations to resolve this issue.

“In an update to the Committee on 5 June, the Chair of the Housing Executive Donald Hoodless advised that his Board had signed off on an agreement with Contractors on 14 May. He further noted that the agreement had been with the Departments for Social Development and Finance and Personnel to approve for over two weeks.

“The Committee is deeply concerned that given the extended time period taken to negotiate and reach an agreement, the Department now appears to be dragging its heels in approving the implementation of that agreement.”

Mr Maskey continued: “We are also anxious that the delay will impact on the ability of the Housing Executive to deliver on its planned maintenance programme which, the Committee has been told, will not now begin until the autumn.

“There is no doubt that tenants whose homes have been scheduled for maintenance will continue to suffer as a result of these serious and seemingly unnecessary delays – delays that also risk putting contractors in financial difficulty and ultimately endangering jobs and livelihoods”.

Mr Maskey concluded: “This issue was raised as a matter of urgency last year by the Minister and my Committee is now questioning why having reached agreement, its approval no longer appears to be a priority for the Department.  The Committee is also disappointed that the Department has not been proactive in keeping it informed of progress on this issue.

“My Committee has agreed to request that the Minister and senior departmental officials attend our meeting next week (Thursday 19 June) to address these serious issues and provide further clarity on the way forward”.

ENDS

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