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Social housing sector ready to build on £1billion impact

3rd October 2019

NIFHA launch Benefits to Society NI report highlighting impact of social housing sector

The social housing sector contributes more than £1 billion to the economy of Northern Ireland each year, and this positive impact could rise further with increased investment and policy changes - that was the key message of a new report launched today by Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations.

The ‘Benefits to Society NI’ report, which was launched today by NIFHA Chair, John McPeake, and Peter Roberts, Chair Northern Ireland Housing Executive at the annual NIFHA Conference, highlights the breadth of work carried out by the social housing sector and the positive impact it has across the community. The document also sets out some of the key recommendations from the sector, which would improve housing across Northern Ireland.

The Benefits to Society NI initiative is supported by more than 20 organisations across the housing sector. The project aims to highlight the variety of ways and extent to which social housing providers work to the benefit of individuals, families and local communities, as well as to the benefit of society and the economy in Northern Ireland.

With 1 in 6 of all the homes in Northern Ireland being social or affordable, and more than 1,700 new homes built each year by Housing Associations, Benefits to Society NI sets out the wider impact the social housing sector has. This includes training and employability programmes, investment in housing stock maintenance and repairs, home improvement and disabled facilities grants, as well as community investment and neighbourhood building programmes. Across the 20 housing associations and the NIHE, there are more than 6,000 staff across the sector, delivering this wide range of services which help people, communities and the economy.

Launching Benefits to Society NI, NIFHA Chair, John McPeake, said

"Safe, quality homes are the foundation stones on which we build our lives, families and communities. Without a secure place to call home, it is almost impossible to maintain our physical and mental health, earn a qualification or get a job. Which is why the social housing sector is so important in Northern Ireland. As well as providing more than 130,000 homes, we provide care and support services, employ more than 6,000 people, and build more than 1,700 homes every year, which supports the construction sector and adds more than £1billion to the local economy.

"But the social housing sector has ambition and capacity to do so much more. While Benefits to Society NI sets out the success of the social housing sector, it also highlights some key areas where policy changes could allow housing associations to bring increased social and economic benefit. This would include moving the social housing development programme from a 1 year programme to multi year, which would allow more flexibility and help achieve more new builds. Investment in social housing new build is bringing a return of £2.84 for every £1 invested, which is making public funds go further as well as providing much needed housing across Northern Ireland. The success of the social housing sector is clear but it has not always been recognised, and now is the time to build on that success.”

Housing Executive Chair, Professor Peter Roberts, said; "I’m delighted to take part in this conference. The Housing Executive fully supports this campaign, principally because this starts in the home. This campaign recognises that housing is a fundamental human right and also notes how important housing, and the sector, is to our wider society, its health and its welfare. It also recognises the great work that the Housing Executive and local Housing Associations have done across Northern Ireland and the work carried out each and every day to improve people’s lives and sustain communities.”

"Like any sector with ambition to do more, all of us the social housing sector know that targeted reform and investment will bring increased benefit, from modernising the housing stock and delivering more new homes, to increased care and support services and new training opportunities for the staff.”

The Benefits to Society NI Report can be viewed at nifha.org.

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