28 Mar 2022

UK Housing Review gives warning on future of 43,000 Housing Executive homes

Structural funding problems continue to hinder the Housing Executive's ability to invest in its homes, according to the Chartered Institute of Housing's annual UK Housing Review 2022.

Spending on improvements and maintenance fell significantly in recent years, from £178 million in 2018/19 to £135 million budgeted in 2020/21. However, the Housing Executive had a £16 million late allocation to its 2021/22 capital budget for work on its stock.

In November 2020, steps were taken to address the Housing Executive funding challenge with plans announced to convert its landlord arm into a mutual or co-operative body, enabling it to borrow.
Since then, communities minister Deirdre Hargey has said she also wants to look at options that include retaining the HousingExecutive'ss status rather than pursuing the community mutual option for its landlord's arm.

Justin Cartwright  |  CIH Northern Ireland director

Reform of the Housing Executive must be progressed as a matter of urgency. The longer we wait, the more tenants will find their homes no longer meet their needs. Much of the housing is old, below modern standards and environmentally inefficient. The minister had committed to returning to the Northern Ireland Executive with a reform plan before the election. That did not happen due to the Executive collapse, and a statement of support will not now be seen until an Executive is formed post-election. The Housing Executive must be allowed to invest in its homes and communities, prevent further deterioration and achieve net-zero carbon emissions across its housing stock. This includes enabling the organisation to borrow. It also means setting an affordable level of rent for tenants considering the cost-of-living crisis and sustainable for the Housing Executive to ensure all tenants can live in decent homes. We also need to see a budget allocation to move the reform programme forward. This absence will extend delays in securing a long-term future for people’s homes.

John Perry  |  CIH policy advisor and UK Housing Review author

Funding problems have constrained the Housing Executive’s ability to meet the required investment in its 85,000 homes, estimated in 2018 to be £7.1 billion over 30 years. For some time, the Housing Executive had not been allowed to raise rents to provide more income. A rent increase of 2.75 per cent took effect in April 2021, but a new freeze began in April 2022. The Housing Executive warns that it will have to start de-investing in its stock without a more significant increase in resources, leading to the eventual loss of 43,000 homes. The communities minister has confirmed that the Housing Executive can afford only about half the required investment. She agreed that the 2018 backlog figure ‘will be much higher when you start to look at all the issues in the round’ because, apart from further deterioration and inflation since then, the stock requires significant investment if decarbonisation targets are to be met.