HC Deb 29 April 1976 vol 910 c548
15. Mr. Carson

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many housing executive tenants, from the introduction of the rent rebate scheme to 31st March 1976, have made application for rent rebate; and how many have qualified.

Mr. Concannon

I am advised by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive that at 31st March 1976 18,985 tenants had applied for rent rebates. At this date 11,815 tenants were receiving rebates and 1,128 applications were being processed.

Mr. Carson

I thank the Minister for that reply. Does he agree that in Northern Ireland there is a large proportion of low wage earners? Could he give an assurance that the rent rebate scheme will be based on net rather than gross income?

Mr. Concannon

The scheme in Northern Ireland is on an exact parallel with that in the United Kingdom. Because there is a higher proportion of low wage earners in Northern Ireland, there should be more people on rent rebates than there are. I regret that they are not coming forward in greater numbers.

Mr. Fitt

As the people already in debt to the Northern Ireland Executive do not qualify for the scheme, will my hon. Friend say how many people in Northern Ireland are on rent strike and are deliberately not paying rent? Can he give a list of the various estates involved, particularly in Belfast, so that we can estimate the number of people who are deliberately not paying rent?

Mr. Concannon

Finding out who are the original rent strikers is difficult. The number is now so low that it is not worth sorting out. There has been a change in the number of rent defaulters which is now small compared with what it was.

Mr. Wm. Ross

Will the Minister indicate the percentage of squatters who would otherwise qualify for rent rebate?

Mr. Concannon

Squatters do not qualify for rent rebate.