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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Update on the Housing Strategy for Northern Ireland

The Department for Social Development recently produced an update on their progress on Facing the Future: The Housing Strategy for Northern Ireland. The update shows that many of the actions are on track for delivery by 2017 by August 2015.

The report updates on 33 actions in total. We have summarised a few of these below.

Action: To review the statutory fitness standard across all tenures

This is broadly on track. Preliminary discussions with key stakeholders have now completed and the policy is being developed for consultation. A discussion paper on the future of the standard is expected to be published during 2015.

Action: Review the private rented sector regulation

This is on track for achievement. Social Development Minister, Mervyn Storey MLA, launched the review during a keynote address at our Conference “Bigger & Better: The Future of Private Renting in Northern Ireland” in November 2014. The DSD have met with interested parties and a discussion paper will be published in 2015 before proposals are issued for public consultation by March 2016.

Action: Improve the regulation of house in multiple occupation (HMO)

This is on track for achievement. Following responses to the review and research into other jurisdictions, the Minister for Social Development has now presented a Bill to the Assembly. The Social Development Committee has put out a request for feedback on the Bill. All evidence submissions must be made by 6th October.

Action: Introduce a developer contribution scheme

This is broadly on track for achievement. In November 2014 Social Development Minister, Mervyn Storey MLA, and Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan, announced that, having reflected on the outcomes of the consultation, they would commission additional research on the likely economic impact of the introduction of developer contributions in Northern Ireland. The research was commissioned on 30 March 2015, and is expected to take around 6 months to complete.

Action: Establish a Housing Supply Forum

This is on track for achievement. The Housing Supply Forum is due to complete its work shortly and will produce a report of its findings, including practical recommendations to help unblock housing supply, for the DSD Minister to consider.

Action: DSD will develop and implement a new strategic approach to support repair and improvement in private sector housing.

Some risk of delay. Having undertaken a public consultation during 2012/13 on proposals for grant reform, the Department is examining options to reform the private housing grant arrangements. As one element of this, a working group has been established with the Housing Executive and a loan pilot scheme is under development. Provision to secure lending by means of a statutory charge is being taken forward within the Housing (Amendment) Bill, introduced in the Assembly on 30 June 2015. In the interim, the Housing Executive have continued to deliver a range of private housing grants in advance of any legislative or administrative change. A discussion paper on the potential reform of the wide private sector grant arrangements will be published during 2015.

Action: Review the warm homes scheme and further develop our work on energy efficiency.

This action is on track for achievement. The Department is working in partnership with all local councils and the NI Housing Executive to deliver the scheme, which was launched on 15 September 2014. It will replace the Department’s Warm Homes Scheme which came to an end on 31 March 2015. The Department is continuing to deliver the Boiler Replacement Scheme.

Action: Work with others to implement the homelessness strategy

This action is on track for achievement. Priority has been given to implementing 5 key action points which aim to eliminate long term homelessness and rough sleeping by 2020.  These are:

  1. To design a housing options model for Northern Ireland;
  2. To develop a common assessment tool to comprehensively assess the health and social care needs of those presenting as homeless;
  3. To examine Introducing a central access point for all homeless services;
  4. To pilot and evaluate a housing-led model; and
  5. To agree on regional and local structures to implement the Homelessness Strategy.

Work has progressed on all five actions and will continue into 2015/16.

Action: Establish a working group that will identify ways of preventing or mitigating the impact of repossessions.

This action is on track for achievement. The Housing Repossessions Taskforce was established  to investigate the impact of arrears, negative equity and repossessions in Northern Ireland. Their final report was published in February 2015. The recommendations will be implemented in 2015/2016.

Action: Lead a fundamental review of social housing allocations policy

Some risk of delay. Following the release of independent research for public comment, the department released a summary of responses in October 2014. The Department is now preparing proposals for consultation. 

Action: Further develop the policy framework on tackling anti-social behavior (ASB) in social housing and proposals for a new ‘Notice of seeking possession’ including an ASB warning.

This action is on track for achievement. The new “Notice of Seeking Possession’ is in place. The Housing (Amendment) Bill was introduced in the Assembly on 30 June 2015 and will make provision for disclosure of certain information about anti-social behaviour to the Housing Executive or a registered housing association where such information is required for certain housing management purposes.

 

Tagged In

Social Tenancies, Private Tenants Forum, NI Assembly