Big Changes Loom For NI Housing Sector

Significant changes are to be suggested in the housing sector following questions over why so much public money was being paid to social housing providers and why so many separate organisations are providing housing in Northern Ireland.

Addressing the annual conference of the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations on the theme of 'Time for Change', Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland outlined how future challenges could change the shape of both Housing Associations and the Housing Executive.

The DUP Minister congratulated housing associations for the quality and range of housing and their success in reducing homelessness over many years, but also urged them to be ready to adapt to the changing environment in delivering public services. 

The Minister said: "I very much value the role of housing associations and need you to build on your success to date.
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"However, I question whether it is right to have as many as 31 separate organisations all providing housing in a place the size of Northern Ireland."

"In my view, we must have a leaner, more fit for purpose movement," he added.

According to the Minister rationalisation has to be the way forward but he said "imagination" and "creativity" were needed to best move forward without losing the "collective strengths of big and not so big associations".

Referring to recent high profile housing association failures the Minister made no apology for robust inspection by government given the substantial amount of public money being paid to social housing providers.

Minister McCausland also made reference to the ongoing review of the NI Housing Executive.

He told delegates that he planned to make an announcement on the way forward for the Housing Executive by Christmas.

The Minister said that a change was inevitable and the "do nothing option is in effect, not an option".


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