DUP conference speech 2013
'Building strong communities'
In a previous speech to Conference as Minister for Social Development I spoke about the importance of compassion and this year I want to speak about the importance of community and especially building successful communities.
Back in 2011 the DUP said that this Assembly term would be about delivery and so at the mid-point of the Assembly term it is appropriate to look back and see what we have achieved so far. Devolution must deliver, the DUP is determined to deliver and we have demonstrated that we can and will deliver. Some of the highlights of DUP delivery through DSD are:
We have delivered 2,917 social homes across Northern Ireland at a value of £482 million of which £304 million was provided by the Northern Ireland Executive.
We have delivered £76.45 million of grant assistance to enable people across Northern Ireland to purchase 2,094 affordable homes through co-ownership, with a total value of £206.9 million.
To date 10,751 Housing Executive homes have had double glazing windows fitted delivering on our commitment to have all Housing Executive homes fitted with double glazing by 2015.
Over 11,103 homes across Northern Ireland now have new efficient heating boilers fitted as a result of the DUP boiler replacement scheme, with 2,470 local installers benefiting from the work. The total grant aid provided so far is £8.3 million.
Through the Warm Homes Scheme 24,095 homes have benefited from energy saving measures with £34.9 million of Northern Ireland Executive funding. We are all aware of rising energy costs and the problem of fuel poverty but those thousands of families and individuals who have benefited from the Warm Homes Scheme are able to enjoy warmer homes at less cost.
Over 3,164 homes have now been visited across Northern Ireland as part of the DUP led Fuel Poverty Pilot Scheme and many of them have benefited from energy saving measures in their homes.
Through our Benefit Uptake Campaign over 8,289 people, many of whom are pensioners, have benefited to the value of £30 million each year through additional benefits and this has ensured that many of our most vulnerable people receive their full entitlement.
£104.6 million has been spent on 412 schemes for town and city centres across Northern Ireland, thereby supporting local businesses and improving the experience for local people and for visitors. I don’t need to tell you that this investment makes those town centres more attractive and thereby increase footfall and boost consumer spend. This is especially important at the present time when many shops are under real pressure.
£4.8 million has also been provided for the magnificent Venue in Londonderry for the United Kingdom City of Culture.
Volunteers play an important role in so many areas of society such as sport, youth work and support groups and 891 local voluntary organisations have benefited from £653,000 of small grants funding.
190 jobs have been secured for Northern Ireland by the Child Maintenance Service, delivering services for Great Britain and those jobs have been secured because of the quality of the service provided by Northern Ireland workers.
Those are some of our achievements but we must look forward and there is so much more to be done.