Friday, 9 January 2009

I’ll take your quarter and raise you three quarters

WITH the rows over the Finance Bill and Margaret Ritchie claiming her social housing budget had been raided, Minister Ritchie announced some good news for Housing Executive tenants who will be allowed to buy their homes in stages rather in one lump sum.

As house prices soared during 2006 and 2007 before last year’s slump, many tenants had been unable to make the leap to being homeowners.

As Ritchie was making the announcement on the House Sales Scheme, DUP and Sinn Féin were continuing their sniping, reminding Ms Ritchie that under the previous Executive, SDLP ministers were telling everybody else that consensual Government meant everyone should be abiding by the consensus.

They were, of course, implying that it was non-DUP Sinn Féin members that were the Executive seat holders not in consensus.

Whether it was a tactic to distract from the social housing announcement is, of course, open to interpretation. Suffice to say that tenants can now, after five years start buying their homes with a 25% initial stake, rising to 100% in increments of 5%.

Of course this raises the question as to who is going to lend anyone money in the current credit crunch and, after five years will MLAs be able to start buying Stormont?

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