Census results indicate looming social housing crisis?

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COOKSTOWN could be facing a social housing crisis following the release of the latest round of Census results.

The Council area had the lowest percentage of new dwelling starts allocated to housing associations, at only 1.5 per cent.

According to the figures, of the 263 new dwelling starts for last year in the Cookstown area, only four were allocated to housing associations.

The Census figures provide an insight into what many local politicians warn is a “social housing crisis”, with only a small percentage of the number of new homes built in the council area undertaken by housing associations.

In Dungannon, the figure was slightly better, with the Census showing that out of 504 new homes, 41 were started by housing associations.

The Magherafelt area had the highest percentage of new homes started by housing associations (16.2%) in the three local areas, with a total of 328 new homes being built.

The second stage of Census figures - which show population and household size and age, as well as the number of people receiving Job Seekers’ Allowance - was made public last week by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).

At 57,852, Dungannon’s ‘Usually Resident Population’ for the 2011 Census is substantially higher than the neighbouring council areas of Cookstown and Magherafelt.

With a population of 37,013, Cookstown’s figure represents a rise of 4,432 since the last Census, while Magherafelt’s population rose by 5,258 to 45,038.

Looking more closely at the statistics, the average household size in the Dungannon Council area is 2.83 people, compared with 2.84 in Cookstown and 2.98 in Magherafelt - the highest in N. Ireland.

In each of the three local council areas, males aged between 16 and 39 years old made up the highest proportion of the local population, with Cookstown at 35.58%; Dungannon at 35.4%; and Magherafelt at 34.46%.

Men and women aged 85 and over made up the smallest percentage of population in each area - Dungannon 1.45%; Cookstown 1.52%; and Magherafelt 1.45%.

Jobs

Meanwhile, in terms of the unemployment situation within the Dungannon, Cookstown and Magherafelt Council areas, young males were the grouping with the highest rate of claims for Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA).

For 2012 in the Cookstown area, there were 1,030 people in total claiming unemployment benefit, with 400 of those men aged between 16 and 34 years old.

In the Dungannon area, the total number of people out of work during 2012 was 1,640, with males between 16 and 34 representing 650 of those, around half as much as for the total of women within this age group.

And, in Magherafelt, there were 430 men aged between 16 and 34 out of work, compared with 150 females. The total jobless figure for the council area was 1,080.

Farming communities

Another interesting finding from the Census results shows that the Dungannon Council area has the fourth highest number of farmers out of the 26 Northern Ireland local districts.

There were 2,006 farmers registered within the area, compared with 1,500 in Cookstown and 1,458 in Magherafelt.