Senior staff recently met Newry, Mourne and Down District Council for an update on our plans for the next year and to report on last year’s investment.
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 some £72m into services to help the most vulnerable through our Supporting People Programme and a further £12.6m through our 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.
Staff gave a presentation on our Housing Investment Plan (HIP) to local Councillors, during which they highlighted many of the organisation’s achievements made over the past year.
Speaking at the Presentation to Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, David Moore, our Director of Corporate Services, said:
“2020 has been an unprecedented year for everyone. The Housing Executive has followed government advice on the management of the coronavirus outbreak and we have made changes in the way we deliver our services. These changes are intended to protect our staff and customers while ensuring that 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 Newry, Mourne and Down District 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.”
Maintaining our housing stock remains a priority. 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 the work of the Housing Executive 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. The HIP and this summary will be available to view online.
During 2019/20, the Housing Executive delivered significant housing investment for a wide range of services, and the public sector housing investment totalled £24.87m for Newry, Mourne and Down. 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 our Supporting People Programme.
In 2019/20, we invested £6.25m for housing support services. £6.37m has been approved for 2020/21.
We currently fund 58 accommodation based services for 885 service users in the Newry, Mourne and Down area as well as 9 floating support services for 533 service users.
During 2019/20, in partnership with housing associations, 52 new homes were built throughout the district.
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, we approved 80 disabled facilities grants and a number of repair and renovation grants totalling £1.19m.
Speaking at the Presentation, our South Regional Manager, Jonathan Blease said:
“Our local office continues 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 assistance and advice, and with housing services.
“We are committed to investing in the Newry, Mourne and Down area, to improve the lives of people in our community.
“My thanks are extended to the Councillors and Officers of Newry, Mourne and Down District 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.”