Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has met with members of the Housing Council to discuss the future of social housing and other housing issues.
The Housing Council is a statutory advisory and consultative body made up of local council members. The Housing Council is consulted by the Housing Executive and the Department for Communities on all matters that affect housing policy.
Minister Hargey said: “Our housing system is in need of reform. The revitalisation of the Housing Executive is central to that if we are to address housing need and deliver for tenants now and in to the future.
“I am committed to a co-design approach in progressing the revitalisation of the Housing Executive and this work is underway. My officials are already working closely with the Housing Executive to develop an approach which will ensure ongoing engagement with key stakeholders particularly tenants, Housing Executive staff and their representatives.
“I welcome the opportunity to update the Housing Council. I am keen to hear their views on this very important Programme, and I wish to thank them for their interest and engagement to date.”
On early progress made to date on the revitalisation of the Housing Executive the Minister said: “One of the areas where I have already achieved success is in securing an exemption for the Housing Executive from its liability to pay Corporation Tax. This will provide the Housing Executive with much needed additional income which will be spent on addressing its significant investment challenge, for the benefit of its tenants.
“I have also delivered an increased new build budget for this year. This £162m investment will help to build many more homes for those who need them and help us build on the success of last year, when we exceeded the new starts target by 30%.”
The Minister also discussed homelessness which is a key priority brought into sharper focus during the pandemic. Minister Hargey said: “My Department is working proactively to prioritise actions to improve our response to homelessness with a continued focus on prevention rather than management. We need to learn the lessons from what worked so well during the pandemic and my officials will continue to work with the Housing Executive on its Reset Plan in 2021/22. This work will build on the collaborative response which has been so effective during the pandemic.”
The Minister also updated the Housing Council on her recently published plans to ensure people and families living in the private rented sector have a safe and secure home.
The Minister concluded: “Our collective goal should be that every household has access to a good quality, affordable and sustainable home that is appropriate to its needs. I am confident that by working constructively through my reform plans that this goal will become a reality.”