Ministerial Platform Article - Housing reform for all

Date published: 01 November 2021


I am acutely aware of the demands on our housing system.

Housing reform for all
Housing reform for all

Ask anyone who is waiting on a social home, facing insecurity in the private rented sector or wishing to get on the property ladder but simply can’t afford to.


That is why this time last year the most ambitious and radical shake up of housing and the largest transformation of the local housing system in over 50 years was outlined to the Assembly.  I am driving that reform forward in order to deliver the housing options and solutions that our society needs, demands and deserves.


We will not address the challenges in our housing system by tweaking around the edges or looking at sectors in isolation.  It requires a radical shake up, of all sectors, and that is exactly what I am doing.


Exciting and ambitious plans were outlined in November last year to revitalise the Housing Executive, to secure the future of its homes for tenants and to get it building again. 


Getting the Housing Executive building homes again at scale, and being able to access the funding it requires to invest in its existing properties, will require fundamental reform.  This has been a long standing issue, but it is one I am facing head on, determined to resolve.


I have secured an exemption for the Housing Executive from Corporation Tax that will result in millions of pounds of additional investment in their homes each year.  I will bring further options to the Executive in the next few months that will allow the Housing Executive to invest in its communities, improve its homes and, crucially, make sure there are many more of them  


We are already making progress in delivering more social housing. In 2020/21, we began construction on 2,403 new social homes (the highest annual figure of new social home starts for over a decade) and I delivered an increased new build budget for this year of £162m against an increased target of 1900.  I have increased that budget still further – potentially by a further £15m – to reinforce our efforts to meet this target and support the sector in the face of unprecedented volatility in the costs of materials.


Meeting housing need and addressing housing stress requires a broad approach.  Those living in all tenures need options, security and deserve the highest of standards.


I have provided £158m to Co-Ownership to help those who wish to own their own home.  I am currently consulting on increasing affordable housing options through a new Intermediate rent model and I will soon consult on a Housing Supply Strategy, to tackle the various issues that impact on the supply of new housing more generally, across all sectors. 


In the private rented sector, I have extended emergency legislation requiring landlords to give tenants 12 weeks’ Notice to Quit and, as outlined in November last year, I am taking legislation through the Assembly to ensure people and families living in the private rented sector have a safe and secure home.


I have also fully funded the Housing Executive’s Covid Reset Plan on homelessness this year bringing the total budget for homelessness for 2021/22 to £46m.


Looking at housing in isolation or focussing on one area, will simply displace the stress to another part of the system.


My housing reform is for all.  It is wide-ranging and ambitious.  It is has people at its heart.  People and families who deserve the fundamental right to a safe, secure and affordable place to call home.


Deirdre Hargey

Communities Minister

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