27 Oct 2022

Absence of government is curtailing housing delivery

The Chartered Institute of Housing Northern Ireland has expressed its deep concern at the damage that will be done to the pace and scale of delivery of new homes and decarbonisation targets, due to the absence of a sitting Executive and an agreed budget.

The absence of a functioning Executive at Stormont, coupled by the cost-of-living crisis made worse by the UK economic downturn, will have a lasting detrimental impact if the political impasse isn’t resolved. As it stands, without the necessary confirmed funding and progress on addressing barriers to delivery, housing providers will struggle to continue to provide the scale of new social and affordable homes needed to address Northern Ireland’s growing housing waiting lists.

CIH Northern Ireland director Justin Cartwright said:

“The inability to deliver the much-needed new homes has a devastating impact on the tenants and communities that our members serve. The longer political inaction festers, the opportunity to increase housing provision for those most in need hangs in the air.

“Delivering new homes at pace and scale goes far beyond simply bricks and mortar. If the sector is unable to deliver much needed new homes on the scale required, homelessness prevention will be undermined, net-zero housing development will be delayed and the opportunity to provide jobs and apprenticeships to grow our workforce will be squandered. This situation is not inevitable. The housing sector needs to see the formation of an Executive as a matter of urgency; we need ministers in place who can make crucial decisions that help, not hinder, local housing provision.

Justin continued:

“The housing waiting list in Northern Ireland is the highest it has been in ten years and, given the current cost of living crisis, it is set to increase further. So that we can provide more homes to help address this housing crisis, housing providers need certainty around government funding. A multi-year budget that keeps pace with increasing land and construction costs is essential.

“Crucial improvements to water and sewage infrastructure also depend on the Northern Ireland budget being agreed. These services are pinch points in the delivery of new homes.

“Another major challenge is upgrading the energy efficiency of existing homes, not only to protect the environment, but also to reduce running costs for the people who live in them, many of whom are already living in fuel poverty. Government assistance for retrofitting Northern Ireland’s social housing also needs to be agreed by the Executive.”