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Positive Signs After Target Busting Year For Social Housing

Northern Ireland’s housing associations had a year of growth in new housing and completions despite inflationary pressures, signalling further prospects for the construction sector in the year ahead.

The 20 social housing associations exceeded targets in 2022-23 as set out in the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA) Sector Global Accounts.

New build starts and completions with construction starting on 1956 homes against a target of 1950 and 1,449 new homes completed against a target of 1,400 homes.

An additional 745 new homes were provided through co-ownership schemes.

The total number of homes managed by Housing Associations across Northern Ireland now stands at 59,371 and an increase of 2.34% from the previous year. 

Turnover for the sector stood at £389m for the year – this was despite an inflationary increase of 8% on underlying costs and ongoing capital markets challenges due to rising interest rates.  3,373 staff are employed directly by Housing Associations with an average staff cost of £31,680.

NIHFA Chief Executive Seamus Leheny said: “The last year has been a challenging environment for housing providers, with inflation rises and interest rate pressures having a significant impact on the financing and construction of new developments and assets.

“Despite these challenges, the resilience of Housing Associations has helped the sector deliver a successful year, exceeding both new start and completion targets to take the total social housing to almost 60,000.

“The ability of Housing Associations to both borrow and manage their finance independently, while working closely with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and the Department for Communities, is one of the key reasons why the sector continues to be one of the region’s largest house-builders.

“Housing Associations are social enterprises which means all profits are reinvested into the organisations allowing each to prioritise their tenants, housing stock and staff.

“The sector has considerable economic impact across Northern Ireland, both through construction and asset spend, as well as through the salaries of 3,300 staff directly employed in the sector.

Looking ahead Mr Legeny added: “Many challenges remain however, including reduced social housing financing from the Department for Communities and we are facing difficult times ahead.”

“Political certainty and introduction of multi-year budgets would go a long way to helping the sector in the coming months and years.”

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