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Flexibility is the solution for our social housing

The Prime Minister's suggestion that more flexibility should be built into the social housing system offers a real solution - not only for tackling waiting-lists, but also for making sure people eligible for social housing have access to more appropriate accommodation.

As ideas for implementing this policy are brought forward in England and Wales, it is essential that Northern Ireland is not left behind.

The underlying notion of our current system is that the focus must be on those on the waiting lists - and not on existing tenants.

In short, it is an in-built expectation that anyone entering social housing should never aspire to leave it again.

This is another type of 'benefits trap', and successive governments have failed to tackle it.

It would be unfair to attempt to re-negotiate existing tenancy agreements, but more flexibility should be built into the system.

Tenants should be in the driving seat, able to exchange homes if other more appropriate accommodation becomes available.

Given that more people, proportionately, are reliant on benefits for their income and social housing for their accommodation, any policy directed at giving people a helping hand up should not be feared by our Executive, but treated as priority.

PAULA BRADSHAW

Ulster Unionist Party

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