McCausland welcomes cross-sector building initiative
Published: Wed, 2 May 2012
Housing Minister Nelson McCausland has welcomed an initiative by the public and private house building sectors to explore ways in which they can work together to add value to social housing.
He was speaking at a ‘Delivering Better Value in Social House Building’ event in Belfast organised by the Construction Employers Federation (CEF) and the housing association movement. The seminar looked at a range of options for developing more cost-conscious design and streamlined procurement.
Minister McCausland said, “Over the next three years I plan to invest £340 million to deliver 6,000 new social and affordable homes. It is important we make every pound work as hard as it possibly can. Value for money and delivering more for less will be an increasing challenge for housing associations as we look to drive down on waiting lists.”
“It makes sense for the public and private sectors to come together to see what economies can be achieved. I want to harness the creativity of the private sector, with the experience of the public sector to bring forward solutions that can genuinely deliver.”
Attendees at the seminar heard that new improved building regulations coming into operation later this year will give both sectors the opportunity to harmonise their respective working practices to further assist a closer working relationship.
John Armstrong, Managing Director of the CEF, said: “House builders want to work in partnership with housing associations and DSD to explore how it might be possible to reduce building costs without compromising on quality. Due to the extremely difficult market conditions experienced by the local construction industry over the past four years, construction companies have become ever more expert at delivering efficiencies for their clients. If, together, we can reduce unit costs, we can deliver more homes and improve the lives of more people. To-days event is an important step on that journey.”
The Housing Executive, the Chartered Institute of Housing, the Strategic Investment Board and the Departments’ of Finance and Social Development also contributed to the debate.
The Construction Employers Federation (CEF) is the certified representative body for the construction industry in Northern Ireland. The organisation has over 1,200 member companies ranging from micro businesses employing a handful of people to the largest construction employers in Northern Ireland. In total CEF member companies account for over 70% of construction output.
All social housing in Northern Ireland is delivered through the housing association movement under the direction of the Housing Executive. Current plans are to start 1,325 new homes for rent in 2012/13, followed by 1,275 in 2013/14 and 2,000 in 2014/14. The balance will be co-ownership affordable homes.