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NIFHA CEO Seamus Leheny presenting to the Committee for Communities

Social Housing provision in Northern Ireland at risk of stagnation without better budgets and proper planning.

The ongoing increase in demand for social and affordable housing, uncertain budgets, lack of suitable land and delays in planning are creating the perfect storm for the provision of social housing in Northern Ireland, which if not addressed will result in the stagnation of efforts to tackle waiting lists  – that was the message today from the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA) as its CEO Seamus Leheny addressed the NI Assembly Communities Committee.

With 46,000 applications currently on waiting lists for social housing and the budget for Social Housing New builds vastly reduced, the representative organisation for Northern Ireland’s 20 Housing Associations, who manage over 60,000 houses across Northern Ireland, discussed a range of challenges facing social housing providers and called for drastic action from the NI Executive.

Seamus Leheny, CEO of NIFHA, briefed the Committee for Communities on the complexity of issues facing social housing in Northern Ireland, and the changes that are required to bring the situation back from tipping point.

“The Housing Association model in Northern Ireland has shown itself to be the most effective delivery mechanism for building and managing social homes. We build to the highest standards and support successful, sustainable communities. Our unique financing model, which means we are not fully dependent on government funding, allows us to continue to build homes and create communities in the context of increased pressure on public financing.

“Despite this, every year we see more people joining the housing waiting list, and a broad range of challenges remain when it comes to building more homes. These include reduced social housing budgets, delays in planning, land availability, inflationary cost of materials, waste water connections and many others. While there are solutions to all these issues, delays in efforts to fix them risk compounding the problem to a situation where efforts to reduce housing waiting lists may completely stagnate.

“Housing Associations raise private finance to match government funding, but what we are seeing are cuts to the housing budget. We also need to look at how we improve older stock through retrofitting, yet while other UK regions are investing in retrofitting, we don’t have a single support programme. These initiatives make homes energy efficient, climate-ready and create jobs.

“To avoid this stagnation, we need direct action quickly, to address housing budgets, increase NI Executive investment in new builds, deal with the infrastructure issues and ensure that the unnecessary obstacles to increasing housing are removed.”


For further information, contact:

Brendan Scott

MW Advocate