- Developing Social Housing Policy in NI
- Consultation Responses from NIFHA
- Policy & Practice
- Supporting People
- Equality And Diversity
Developing Social Housing Policy in NI
NIFHA believes the following points should be taken into consideration by Northern Ireland's Political Parties and elected representatives when putting together a Social Housing Policy.
Creating a clear definition of affordable housing in Northern Ireland is essential.
NIFHA recommends this should include:
- The social rented sector;
- Intermediate affordable housing;
- Low cost housing for owner occupancy procured through Article 40 agreements which might remain low cost in perpetuity; and
- Private rented dwellings at affordable rents
The planning system should build on the foundation laid by the Regional Development Strategy by:
- Ensuring all new development plans zone land for social housing (Planning Policy Statement 12 - PPS12 )
- Insisting that all planning applications provide a suitable mix of housing types and tenures (Policy HS2 of PPS12)
- Requiring all larger planning applications to provide a mix of house types and sizes (Policy HS4 of PPS12)
Consideration should be given to the existing Government rules regarding sale of surplus public sector land.
- Housing Associations should be offered “first refusal”
- Provide reasonable valuations of sites when selling between government departments eg MoD selling land no longer required to NIHE
- NIHE to buy and subdivide strategic sites for HAs
NIHE should be prepared, as a last resort, to vest land for social housing where it is clear this land is not likely to be used for any other purpose
NIHE should take more account of latent need for social rented housing in rural as well as urban areas
Consideration of alterations to the Statutory House Sales Scheme and possibly suspend the scheme where:
- There is an intense need for housing and where difficult to provide social rented homes;
- In individual cases e.g. where dwellings have been specifically designed for wheelchair users;
- In special cases require a social landlord to offer a transferable discount to help him/her buy a property from the open market;
- Extend the buy-back option for housing associations indefinitely.
NIFHA believes our local representatives should support the provision of social housing in the following ways:
- Encourage the sale of surplus council land at a reasonable valuation;
- Offer support to all reasonable planning applications which include social housing stock;
- Encourage their constituents to apply for housing in their preferred area(s) even if none currently exists
- Most importantly, NIFHA would be keen for Councillors' support in challenging the Semple remark that: 'Housing Asssociations may not be capable of delivering 2,000 units per year'. Given a reasonably level playing field Housing Associations would be able to deliver this.
NIFHA has other key issues for Political Parties to address:
- Concern about the transfer of the Supporting People function to the proposed "super Councils" rather than have one administrative body (NIHE);
- Changing legislation in relation to the Common Selection Scheme to facilitate assessment by housing associations;
- There is clearly a need to focus on the key issue of how long it takes for a household in significant need to be offered accommodation reasonably suitable for their requirements;
- We would emphasise that the most appropriate measure of Housing Association output is “units of accommodation added to the Housing Association stock” given the widespread confusion over setting and/or meeting targets for housing associations
- High level of bureaucracy and regulation for organisations which makes it difficult for them to carry out their normal day to day work
- Pressure in relation to efficiency gains and this should be in proportion to the size and/or contribution of the respective sector/organisations