Members login

Press Release – Budget cuts to SHDP

Without change, the Assembly is failing on housing!

Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations has said that the Executive and Assembly must get serious on the issue of funding for social housing. Seamus Leheny was responding to the briefing provided to the Committee for Communities at Stormont earlier today which indicated that the capital budget for house building faces a significant cut which will mean that a maximum of 400 new social homes will be built in the coming year.

In 2023 / 2024 the new build starts figure was 1,508.

Seamus said,

“In reality, the housing waiting list and the social housing budget are going in different directions, at a rapid pace. While figures showed an 18% increase in the number of applicants on the waiting list over the last ten years, the budget available for new build social housing is shrinking and today’s decision will lead to a 73% reduction in the number of new build homes compared to last year.

“If this is not addressed then the Assembly is effectively waving a white flag and accepting that we cannot realistically provide housing for our citizens in need. In the first quarter of this year alone more than 800 people in Northern Ireland presented as being in housing need; but as things stand, we will be building a maximum of half that number of homes over a whole year.

“The £15m referenced today, combined with the ring fenced £16.5m already allocated for shared housing developments means that in total there will be £31.5m available. Given increased construction costs, the reality is that we are unlikely to even deliver 400 homes with these funds. That is the firm view of the development teams within our Housing Associations.

“This is unsustainable and will have a devastating impact on homeless people, on thousands of families and of course an economic knock-on effect on the construction sector and the wider economy.

“Politicians from across the political spectrum need to ask themselves is this the new beginning we want to deliver through a restored Assembly? As the body representing Housing Associations we are engaged with our political representatives and we know they support the building of more social homes, but that must be translated into positive action.

“The chances to amend the budget and increase the planned house building programme are limited but we know there is an in-year monitoring round to come in the next few weeks and the Minister has made a bid for additional funds to build more homes.

“Yes, there are multiple pressures on public services but the provision of safe, quality housing is the foundation to a healthy, prosperous society and we challenge political leaders, not solely the Department for Communities, to give housing the priority it deserves. We have asked the Executive to make Housing a standalone outcome in the Programme for Government and we need a matching commitment on cross departmental partnership and long-term funding.”

 

ENDS

Further information:

Brendan Scott

MW Advocate

brendan.scott@mwadvocate.com

028 9026 7072