Following his first day in office the new Social Development Minister Maurice Morrow MLA sets out his plans for continuing the important work of DSD.
Commenting on his first day in his new post Minister Morrow said: “Although I have been here before and my first period as Minister for Social Development was almost 14 years ago, I do not underestimate the challenges that lie ahead of me during the short period of time that I will be Minister before the Assembly Elections in May 2016.”
Speaking about the wide range of issues facing the Department the Minister said: “As we move to implement the full range of welfare reforms following the Welfare Reform Order a key priority for me will be the need to take forward ‘A Fresh Start the Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan’ that the Executive has agreed to help mitigate the welfare reform changes that will affect many people.
“We also await the outcome of recommendations from the Working Group led by Professor Evason on how best to provide protection for the people of Northern Ireland in order to help the most vulnerable.”
Commenting on the housing portfolio the Minister continued: “The Department will continue to work in partnership with the key stakeholders and others in the housing sector to achieve the vision set out in my Department’s Housing Strategy. We will strive to meet housing need through ensuring access to decent, affordable, sustainable homes across all tenures.
“I am keen to build on the success of former Ministers who have delivered over 10,000 new social and affordable homes for the people of Northern Ireland since 2011. By the end of March 2016, my aim is to deliver a further 1,950 homes for those who need them.
“This investment in housing not only helps those who need a home, but also has positive impacts for the construction sector. I also want to drive forward the Affordable Warmth Scheme and other measures to tackle fuel poverty, and support the Housing Executive with its Investment Strategy. I also know housing is about more than bricks and mortar and that is why I will ensure we continue to help some of the most vulnerable in our society live independently through our Supporting People Programme.
“The Fresh Start Agreement also commits the Executive to looking at the current social housing structures and ensuring we can secure the necessary investment in a financially sustainable way, I will continue to take forward this work through the Department’s Social Housing Reform Programme.”
Referring to regeneration the Minister added: “I believe we need to focus on partnership working with local Councils and continue to build on the valuable work in addressing the regeneration of our towns and cities to the benefit of local communities including Public Realm and Neighbourhood Renewal.
Concluding the Minister said: “I will also be progressing two important housing bills - Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Bill and the Housing Amendments Bill which are currently going through the Assembly process.”
Notes to editors:
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