NIFHA has welcomed the opportunity to provide a written response to the Northern Ireland Executive’s Consultation on the Draft Programme for Government Framework 2016-2020.
It is agreed that an outcome-focused approach is appropriate and necessary, providing a more meaningful account of government intervention and public spending and NIFHA is aware that there has been some advance engagement with selected organisations to help inform the development of the Programme for Government Framework 2016-21.
While NIFHA recognises that there are many interested and important stakeholders, we do feel that early engagement with the housing sector would have been helpful in shaping the outcomes, indicators and measures presented in the framework.
Housing associations have a strong track record of working in partnership with government to deliver much-needed housing, care and support. During the last Programme for Government, housing associations exceeded the target set by the Northern Ireland Executive, providing over 10,000 social and affordable homes from 2011 to 2015. Our sector will seek to support the new Programme for Government with the same level of ambition and success.
Housing associations also provide a wide range of care, support and community services and activities that contribute to the wellbeing of individuals and communities.
The role of housing associations goes far beyond bricks and mortar and housing, offering advice, support and opportunities to tackle debt and financial exclusion; become more digitally aware and get online; learn how to grow food, cook and eat healthily; access training schemes, apprenticeships and employment; all key elements in building individual and collective wellbeing.
NIFHA’s response makes the following key points:
- Good housing is the cornerstone upon which wellbeing rests and, as such, should be a significant aspect of the Programme for Government Framework.
- We agree that the framework’s purpose of ‘improving wellbeing for all – by tackling disadvantage and driving economic growth’ is appropriate and provides the right focus on outcomes-based accountability.
- We support the 14 proposed strategic outcomes. However we believe that another is needed – We have good quality, affordable homes in sustainable communities.
- Without good quality affordable homes in sustainable communities, we would suggest that it will be difficult to improve wellbeing for all or tackle disadvantage and drive economic growth.
- We strongly advocate that housing is included as an indicator for economic growth and job creation.
- Housing is also an intrinsic part of creating a more equal society and one that is shared and respects diversity. We would suggest therefore that housing is linked to these two outcomes.
- NIFHA would support additional housing indicators within the Programme for Government Framework.
- The use of one statistical measure as a proxy for each indicator is also problematic. A ‘basket’ of three to five measures would be more meaningful in many cases.
- There is an urgent need for significant new supply across our entire housing market, including social rented, private rented, open market and intermediate tenures such as shared ownership.
- We believe that there should be an indicator specifically related to supply – Increase the supply of good quality housing across all tenures.
- We would suggest amending indicator 31 to Build a Shared Society rather than Increase Shared Space.
- We believe that a new indicator is required to ensure that our citizens have access to affordable, secure and sustainable housing solutions, particularly the most vulnerable. We propose an indicator to Improve access to affordable and secure housing solutions for those in housing need.
- We would also propose creating a new indicator in relation to health and outcomes – Increase the number of people supported to live independently.
- All of these indicators should be supported by a series of new measures that will properly demonstrate progress.
To read NIFHA’s full response, click here.