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Thread: Stormont – failing working-class communities

  1. #1
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    Default Stormont – failing working-class communities

    09/03/13

    In yet another depressing sign of the Stormont administration’s failed economic policies, it has been revealed that almost one third of all families living in homes provided by the Housing Executive are in rent arrears. It is estimated that, out of the 88,000 Housing Executive households, at least 25,000 of them have been unable to keep abreast of their weekly rental costs.

    The Housing Executive is the main statutory social housing provider and landlord within working class communities across the Six Counties. Many of these communities lie within what are known as Neighbourhood Renewal areas – which even the Stormont regime has been forced to acknowledge are areas that experience unacceptably high levels of social and economic deprivation and disadvantage.

    Overall, 80 percent of households in the social housing sector have no-one in paid employment. In total, across the social and private housing sectors in the Six Counties, there are over 120,000 households in which there is no-one working and over 60,000 children live in households where there is no adult working.

    Despite these scandalous figures, the Stormont administration is continuing with its plans on welfare reform amongst which is a ‘bedroom tax’. As a result of this ‘bedroom tax’, up to 86,000 social housing tenants who receive housing benefits will see those cut. Depending on the size of the family household, tenants will have to pay extra to their landlord to make up the difference between the housing benefit received and the level of rent due.

    It is estimated that this bedroom tax will see hard-pressed tenants, already pressurised by increasing costs for basic essentials like food, heating and lighting, having to fork out additional amounts ranging from £400 to £1,000 each year from their ever decreasing incomes.

    To further compound these hardships, tenants are also faced with another increase in their weekly rental charges due to take effect in April of this year.

    All this is taking place against a backdrop within which the levels of child poverty continue to remain unacceptably high. West Belfast has the unenviable distinction of leading the child poverty tables with 43 percent of children living in poverty-stricken homes. Derry fares no better with 36 percent of children there experiencing poverty.

    However, a damning insight into Stormont’s ineffectiveness and the incapacity of the establishment parties within the northern administration to effect real improvements to the lives of ordinary people has come from the head of the Housing Executive, John McPeake.

    McPeake, chief executive of the housing body, this week revealed that at least 5,000 of their tenants are already forced to rely on pay-day lenders to pay their rent and that there is a growing problem with unregulated door-step lenders, often connected to criminal gangs who are coming along and who are putting tenants under extreme duress.

    Commenting on these statistics, éirígí general secretary Breandán Mac Cionnaith said, “We have consistently stated that the so-called political process in the Six Counties is totally incapable of transforming the social and economic reality faced by tens of thousands of families.

    “Rather than improving the social and economic fabric within working class communities, the Stormont parties have overseen a decrease in living standards and a shortage of social and affordable housing. They have proven themselves to be willing partners of the British Tory government in the implementation of harsh, right-wing austerity policies which impact negatively on every facet of life. On a daily basis, Stormont ministers are putting austerity measures into operation and are falsely portraying them to the public as ‘efficiency measures’, ‘modernisation agendas’ and ‘service streamlining’.

    “Those parties and their elected representatives are more concerned with maintaining their own positions, and the balance of their own selfish political influence, within the marbled corridors of Stormont than they are with addressing real issues affecting real people.”

    Mac Cionnaith continued, “It is an inescapable fact that, almost fifteen years after the Good Friday Agreement, there has been virtually no attempt to address major economic inequalities, or to alter the persistently high levels of social and economic hardship encountered by countless families across the Six Counties.

    “The reality for people in the Six Counties has been a massive, negative experience with a return to mass unemployment, reduced health and social services, educational cut-backs, continued community disintegration and an increase in repressive legislation aimed at further eroding human rights and civil liberties of citizens.

    “éirígí has consistently advocated that the solution to those ills will not be found within a Six County settlement inside the British state and, on a daily basis, more people are coming to that same conclusion.”
    http://www.eirigi.org/latest/latest090313_2.html

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    Default Re: Stormont – failing working-class communities

    Good statement: but what solution does eirigí propose ?

    Private market housing and intergenerational home ownership is a nonsense in modern society in which people move several times in a lifetime and in which most people are not paid enough to buy a house in a reasonable time.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

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