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Social housing's £1.15bn support to Northern Ireland economy

Published: Tue, 3 Nov 2015
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Minister, Mervyn Storey with Clark Bailie, Chief Executive (NIHE), and Cameron Watt, Chief Executive (NIFHA) at the launch. Picture John Murphy Aurora PA
Social Economy
Over one billion pounds of economic output in Northern Ireland is supported by social housing organisations annually, new research commissioned by us has shown.
The research was carried out by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University.
The key findings show that the economic output supported by social housing organisations in Northern Ireland is £1.15 billion, with around £460 million Gross Value Added (GVA) created for the economy through the activities of the organisations and almost 15,500 jobs supported by the sector.
Social housing organisations in Northern Ireland manage almost 137,000 properties, providing homes for 15.5 per cent of all households in the region.
We are the largest social landlord in Northern Ireland, employing more than 3,000 staff, administering a budget of £500 million and managing over 90,000 dwellings.
There are also 23 registered housing associations, which are responsible for the development of new social and affordable housing and employ almost 1,900 people. The three largest associations, Choice, Fold and Helm, are responsible for 45 per cent of all properties managed by housing associations.
The Sheffield Hallam research found that:
  • The economic output supported by the organisations in 2012/13 was £1.15 billion.
  • £536 million of expenditure by social housing organisations went into the Northern Ireland economy, which generated an additional £615 million worth of expenditure in the supply chain.
  • A total of £460 million Gross Value Added (GVA) was created for the local economy by the activities of social housing organisations, 1.4 per cent of the total GVA. The GVA produced directly by the organisations (£246 million) in turn supported a further £214 million of GVA.
  • More than 15,400 jobs are associated with the activities of the organisations. Social housing organisations in Northern Ireland directly provide almost 4,800 full-time jobs, in turn supporting a further 10,640 full-time jobs.
Key findings
The research demonstrates the economic and social importance of social housing organisations in Northern Ireland in relation to the provision of new homes, the management of social housing and their role as employers, as well as investment in communities and the promotion of economic growth.
Launching the research, Social Development Minister, Mervyn Storey MLA, said:
“I welcome today’s report and am encouraged to see the important contribution made to the economy of Northern Ireland through the work of social housing organisations.
“The report demonstrates the social housing sector’s significant contribution to our economy, as well as its vital role in providing good quality, affordable homes for those in housing need.
“I am committed to ensuring that my Department continues to supports this work through the Social Housing Development Programme which, in the last four years has delivered over 10,000 new social and affordable homes for local people in Northern Ireland with an investment of around £900million, and through supporting the NIHE deliver the significant investment it requires to sustain and improve the homes of its tenants.”
Our Chief Executive, Clark Bailie, said:
“These findings illustrate the important contribution the activities and spending of social housing organisations made to employment and the Northern Ireland economy in 2012/13, and the report will be a useful aid to informed decision-making.
“In particular, the high retention of social housing expenditure within Northern Ireland, with associated significant indirect impacts on spending and employment in the local economy, provides important additional justification for the activities of social housing organisations.”
Professor David Robinson of the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam, who led the study said:
“It’s clear from our findings that social housing is making a major contribution to the economy of Northern Ireland.  The scale and scope of activity of housing organisations revealed by our study will probably surprise some people.
“Particularly important to note is the additional value created by social housing – activities like developing new housing and repairing existing stock have big economic impacts, which ripple out into the wider economy.”
The Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA) Chief Executive, Cameron Watt, said:
“This research demonstrates the vital economic contribution that housing associations and the Housing Executive are making to Northern Ireland’s economy. With over 15,000 full-time jobs supported by social housing organisations, sustaining investment in the sector is vital to help secure our economic recovery.
“By maximising opportunities to refurbish existing homes and build new accommodation, the next Programme for Government can transform thousands of lives and create hundreds of new jobs by 2020. That’s why we’ll be making the case for all parties to put strong commitments on housing at the core of their manifestos for the Assembly elections next May.”