Senior staff recently met Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council for an update on our plans for the next year and to report on last year’s investment.
Local Councillors received a presentation on the organisation’s Housing Investment Plan (HIP) and many of the organisation’s achievements over the past year were highlighted.
This has been an unprecedented year for the Housing Executive, with the COVID-19 outbreak making it necessary for changes to be made in the way services were delivered, to ensure the safety of customers and staff.
During 2019/20, we delivered significant housing investment for a wide range of services, and the public sector housing investment totalled £20.13m for Lisburn and Castlereagh.
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This includes grant aid to Housing Associations for the building and rental of new houses.
We endeavour to support the most vulnerable members of society through its Supporting People Programme.
In 2019/20, the Housing Executive invested almost £4.65m for housing support services. £4.6m has been approved for 2020/21.
Currently, 65 accommodation based services are funded, helping 1,166 service users in Lisburn & Castlereagh, as well as six floating support services for 381 service users.
During 2019/20, in partnership with housing associations, 173 new homes were built throughout the city.
We continue to contribute to the private sector through a variety of grants to help adapt homes and to support people living in their own home, for longer.
Last year, 41 disabled facilities grants were approved, with 11 repair grants and renovation grants totalling £752k.
Speaking at the Presentation to Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Clark Bailie our Chief Executive said:
“2020 has been an unprecedented year for everyone.
“We closely followed government advice on the management of the coronavirus outbreak and made changes to the way we deliver our services.
“These changes will protect our staff and customers and ensure we continue to provide key essential services.”
“Our Housing Investment Plan is developed as a comprehensive conversation piece for the whole Northern Ireland housing sector and is informed by a range of stakeholders.
“We have a good working relationship with Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council and there is a lot of engagement on priorities.
“As the strategic housing authority for Northern Ireland, we have prepared this Housing Investment Plan to inform the Community Planning Partnership on the state of the housing market; on housing needs; the policy priorities and public sector investment. While we are still unsure what our programmes will look like over the coming year, we continue to make plans for when we can commence all work.”
“There remains a lot of work to be done to meet housing need, to improve housing stock and to provide support for the most vulnerable in our community.
“We will continue to play our part to ensure this work is delivered efficiently and effectively.”
During 2019/20 across Northern Ireland there was a large planned maintenance programme, with work undertaken at 17,147 homes; a direct investment of £77.7m to these homes.
There were 320,523 response maintenance repairs carried out at a budgetary cost of £52.7m in 2019/20.
In addition, we channelled almost £73m into services to help the most vulnerable through its Supporting People Programme and a further £12.6m though its Homelessness Programme.
Homeowners and private landlords also received considerable support, with £15.6m spent through home improvement grants and £13.7m in tackling fuel poverty through the Affordable Warmth and Boiler Replacement Schemes.
Maintaining our housing stock is a priority for the Housing Executive.
The COVID-19 pandemic, however, posed many challenges, including office closures, delayed new build, and the suspension of all but emergency maintenance.
A summary document outlining our work during the global pandemic was released to the council on the night of the meeting; it outlines the challenges faced and the response to those challenges.
Speaking at the Presentation, Jennifer Hawthorne, our Regional Manager said:
“Our teams in Lisburn & Castlereagh continue to provide a high quality, dedicated housing service to the area, which has been even more difficult during the lockdown period.
“Working alongside our Customer Services Unit, Accounts and Housing Benefit teams, we strive to continue to provide our tenants and the wider community with an effective and efficient service.
“We are committed to investing in the Lisburn & Castlereagh area, to improve the lives of people in our community.
“My thanks are extended to the Councillors and Officers of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council for their support for the Housing Executive - we look forward to continuing to work with them on matters of mutual interest, over the coming year.”