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Alert over our social housing shortage

It could take years for social housing provision to match the level of need in Northern Ireland, the Social Development Minister has warned.

Demand for appropriate-sized accommodation will dramatically outstrip supply once the controversial bedroom tax comes into force, Nelson McCausland said.

"It would take quite a number of years to ensure that we actually have the right provision... whether that be single-bed or two-bed accommodation... to have it in the right parts of the province that need it. But, that could take some years," Mr McCausland said in the Assembly.

The under-occupancy penalty, which takes effect elsewhere in the UK next month, means people in receipt of housing benefit will have to pay for any bedrooms the law deems are not essential.

The UK Government claims the move will protect taxpayers from having to pay for a two or three-bedroom house for a single person. The under-occupancy penalty is not expected to become law here until at least June or July, when the Welfare Reform Bill is put before the Assembly.

Belfast Telegraph