12 °CMon, 22

Young Ballymena families being 'failed miserably' by points system says MLA

Dessie Blackadder

Reporter:

Dessie Blackadder

A generation of young people in the Ballymena area is facing the prospect of never being able to own their home.

And, to make matters worse, they are being ‘failed miserably’ in the sphere of public housing, according to North Antrim DUP Assemblyman, Paul Frew.

He says he is becoming increasingly concerned about the effects these housing issues are having on local communities at present and is urging ‘new measures’ to redress the situation.

Having noted that Ballymena town has recently benefitted from new social housing projects, the MLA said it was still important to look at th bigger picture across the area.

He said:“At the earliest stage of my political career I was fully aware of the gap in housing requirements in Ballymena with many people waiting for homes or living in poor accommodation and I have been working with Housing Executive, Housing Associations and Government Departments to address the imbalances that exist since.

“Whilst that work takes time we have witnessed much progress of late with new social housing developments in Harryville and Ballymena allocated to many of my Constituents.”

However, he noted, whilst house prices have fallen ‘incredibly’ since the 2007 high water mark they are starting to creep up again.

“This will be welcome news for people in negative equity since those heady days but many young people and families just about managing find it extremely difficult to get onto the property ladder when banks won’t lend and salaries have stagnated or decreased.”

And he branded the provision of public sector housing as a ‘failure’.

Mr. Frew said: “The points system currently in operation by the Housing Executive fails our people miserably whilst the housing stock is not being maintained the way it needs to be.

“Couples struggling to keep down one or two jobs each whilst raising a young family have next to know chance of getting a suitable home from Housing Executive if they currently have some sort of roof over their heads no matter how inadequate.

“For young adults still living with their parents it’s even harder!, 36 % of young adults in Northern Ireland currently live with parents , the highest in the UK with West Midlands the closest 2nd with 29%. This is a growing and ongoing problem.”

The DUP man also examined the situation within the private rental sector to reinforce his point.

He continued:“.In Northern Ireland, the number of households renting from a private landlord more than doubled from 41,700 in 2001 to 95,200 in 2011, increasing the share of all households accounted for by private renting, from 6.7 per cent to 14 per cent.

“In contrast, the proportion of households engaged in social renting (either from the Housing Executive or housing associations) fell from 21 per cent in 2001 to 15 per cent in 2011. The other main tenure types in 2011 were households owning their property with a mortgage or loan (35 per cent), and those that own their property outright (32 per cent). Overall, the proportion of households with some form of ownership (including shared ownership) fell from 70 per cent in 2001 to 67 per cent in 2011.

“In Ballymena that’s even less with 64.4 % owner occupied. 16% Private renting and 15.6% Social renting in 2011 the latest census figures . I expect these figures to have gathered pace incredibly in the years since 2011.”

Mr. Frew argued that measures to counter balance the current ‘housing market failures’ are required.

He urged extra investment and the creation of more affordable homes with a much more varied housing mix and injecting further growth in the construction sector.

And he concluded: “Partnerships between different sectors should now be taken to a new level , joint ventures that combine the resources and skills of private and social housing sectors.”

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