The housing sector in Northern Ireland is one that is rapidly changing. It also exists in a political environment that is precarious with our impending exit from the EU and possible instability in the Assembly. There are certainly a number of immediate challenges including the impact welfare changes will have as we begin 2017, and ongoing difficulties with housing supply. At 31 March 2016, the social housing waiting list amounted to 37,586 households of which 22,645 were considered to be in housing stress.
Housing associations are also facing a threat with their reclassification as public bodies which will affect their potential for accessing finance and may limit their ability to invest in the delivery of new homes. Ongoing demographic pressures continue to have an impact on the importance of care and support and securing the future of the Supporting People Programme is vital. Other important issues include planning and the supply of land.
In June 2016 the biggest funding deal in the sector’s history was announced with the European Investment Bank (EIB) providing a total of £280 million for social housing in Northern Ireland. As we enter 2017, the Programme for Government is still being finalised but it is hoped that 8,000 social housing units will be delivered by 2020 as well as extra funding announced for shared housing through the Fresh Start Agreement.
The housing association landscape in Northern Ireland has also changed considerably in the last couple of years. Consolidation and mergers of associations offers an increased scale of operations and potential for efficiencies and better use of resources – the benefits of which are beginning to become apparent. Moving forward, there is also the option of developing collaborative partnerships and new ways of working. We can also completely rethink how we provide homes, with one GB housing association developing modular homes.
Many opportunities also exist for the sector in embracing innovation in technology to transform how services are delivered. Digital housing can enhance tenant engagement and improve service delivery, and also drive cost savings – with the growth of consumer empowerment and the need to offer greater choice, this will ensure the momentum for change continues.
The conference will be of interest to all stakeholders with an interest in aspects of housing, funding and management including senior managers in the public, private and third sectors in Northern Ireland. The conference will be of particular interest to:
This conference will focus on the challenges that lie ahead and discuss the way forward to ensure we are able to meet current and future housing needs. It will bring together the key stakeholders with an interest or role in housing in Northern Ireland and attract a good attendance from across the sector.
There are a number of opportunities for interested organisations to become involved with this conference as sponsors or exhibitors. This is an excellent way for organisations to raise their profile with a key audience of senior decision-makers from across the housing sector in Northern Ireland. For further information on how your organisation can benefit, contact Lynda Millar on 028 9261 9933.
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