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Scheme is in place to help social housing tenants

I noted with interest the platform piece from David McNarry in the Belfast Telegraph (DebateNI, April 27), where he stated that Northern Ireland needs its own Right to Buy Scheme.

I would like to clarify that a system of selling social houses to existing tenants is currently in place in Northern Ireland in the form of the House Sales Scheme.

Like the Right to Buy in England, the House Sales Scheme gives eligible tenants of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) the right to buy their property from their landlord at a discounted rate to the normal market value; this scheme also extends to all eligible tenants of registered housing associations.

In terms of reinvestment, it is also worth noting that Northern Ireland performs comparatively better than the rest of the UK in social home delivery.

We deliver one new social house for every 32 applicants on the waiting list in Northern Ireland, as compared to one in every 50 in England, one in every 58 in Scotland and one in every 65 in Wales.

As outlined in Facing the Future: A Housing Strategy for Northern Ireland, I am keen to support aspiration and maintain pathways for social housing tenants into affordable homeownership.

To that end, my department has committed to carrying out a full review of the House Sales Scheme within the current financial year to ensure the scheme remains fit for purpose.

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Minister for Social Development

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