The continued growth of the social housing sector is vital if we are to tackle Northern Ireland’s growing housing waiting list – that was the message today from Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations CEO Seamus Leheny, following the publication of the NIFHA 2022 Global Sector Accounts. The annual report on the financial performance of housing associations was launched this morning at the NIFHA Finance Conference and shows continued growth in the social housing sector despite Covid-related challenges and the rise in construction sector costs.
The NIFHA 2022 Global Sector Accounts Report provides an overview of the consolidated accounts of all twenty Housing Associations in Northern Ireland. The Global Sector Accounts show that housing associations have a combined turnover of £429m, an increase of 9%, with all surpluses reinvested to support further improvement and maintenance of housing stock and the building of new homes as well as supporting communities and tenants. This increase was managed despite the fact that operating costs have rose by 12%.
To support the development of more new homes each year Housing Associations utilise private sector borrowing which has resulted in a total of £1.541bn currently invested in social and affordable housing. The strength of the financial model housing associations operate under is highlighted by the fact that the gearing calculated at 32.5%, well within the financial comfort range of between 25% and 50%.
Other key figures within the report include 835 new homes ready for moving in last year (added to the existing total of 57,000 homes) with construction started on a further 1700 new-builds during the same period. The sector is also a significant employer, with 3,338 employed directly by housing associations, generating £79m in annual wages. The sector also provides significant support to the construction sector with a total of £362m being spent on acquisition and construction.
NIFHA Chief Executive, Seamus Leheny, said “The social housing sector has faced huge challenges in recent years, but the resilience of our members has ensured that the sector remains in a strong position. The core aim of all housing associations is to provide quality homes and supporting tenants, but to do that successfully, and in particularly to ensure that they have to ability to build new homes, they must be in a strong financial position. This report underlines the financial stability of the sector and also highlights the important role housing associations play in reducing the housing waiting lists.
“Despite significant rises in construction costs as well as increased operating costs the overall financial position of the sector is robust. While the number of new homes has increased in the last year, the sector saw some lag from sites which were stalled due to Covid, as well as wider construction issues including increased material costs, planning delays and wastewater infrastructure. The outlook for new builds is stronger however with many sites moving towards completion in the current year.”
Seamus added “The social housing sector is at the fore of innovation. The increase in Co-Ownership sales, as well as more mixed-tenure and affordable housing being developed by Housing Associations, show how NIFHA members are supporting the growth and improvement of the whole housing sector across Northern Ireland as well as making a significant contribution to the local economy.”
View the 2022 Sector Global Accounts here – Sector Global Accounts 2022