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Programme review announcement

Published: Wed, 14 Jan 2009
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Our shortfall is reduced to £35m
Building site at Twinbrook in Belfast
On 18th December 2008 we announced a Review of our Programmes. This followed the £35 million shortfall in our budget caused by the collapse of the housing market and credit crunch.
Throughout we have been working alongside the Department for Social Development to minimise the impact of this in an attempt to keep vital housing programmes on track. In fact, over the year, our projected shortfall has been reduced from some £65 million to £35 million.
In recent days the Department for Social Development Minister, Margaret Ritchie MLA, following further discussion with Finance Minister Nigel Dodds, has re-allocated a further £10.5 million to us. The Minister has asked for this to be used to protect the housing needs of vulnerable people and, importantly, to provide immediate support to the building industry at a time when it is facing job losses.
This financial support will allow us to undertake the following:
  • The immediate release of schemes to build 140 new homes for housing association tenants. This will bring the total number of new social housing starts this year to around 1100. We intend to approve a further 400 new homes in April. Given existing levels of housing need we are committed to delivering a substantial programme of new house building through our partners in the Housing Association movement.
  • 16 major contracts for improvements to Housing Executive homes will be released immediately. This work is directed to tackling fuel poverty, improving energy efficiency, and providing decent homes.
  • £1/2 million will be released immediately to support the grants system including Disabled Facilities Grants and Home Repair Assistance Grants. This is aimed at protecting vulnerable households in the private sector and sustaining local contractors.
  • All Change of Tenancy repairs in Housing Executive homes will be released to contractors. We expect this will affect around 1,500 homes overall between now and the end of March.
  • We can confirm that all Emergency and Urgent tenant repairs will be completed. Tenants who request routine repairs can expect some delay.
  • We are committed to maintaining the adaptations programme for people with disabilities throughout the social and private housing sectors.
The reasons for the shortfall in our budget are well understood. Around one-third of our spend is dependent upon revenue from house and land sales, and this has all but dried up. Regrettably this shortfall looks set to continue until conditions in the housing market improve significantly. We are committed to meeting housing need, and we are determined to meet these challenges.  
We acknowledge the support which housing has received from the Minister following the impact of the housing market collapse and credit crunch.

Further Information

Figures for 2007/2008 show the following:
  • We manage a housing stock of 90,607 homes.
  • We dealt with 392,000 repair requests from tenants last year.
  • 39,688 were on the housing waiting list at 31st March 2008.
  • In 2007/2008 9,234 people were found to be homeless.
  • In 2007/2008 we approved 5,488 private sector grants – largely Disabled Facilities and Home Repair Assistance Grants.
Our programme will be kept under review.