North’s housing associations borrowed £680m to build social projects last year

More new social houses constructed in North than in average area in Britain

 The combined turnover of housing associations in the North was £214 million last year Photograph: Laura Hutton

The combined turnover of housing associations in the North was £214 million last year Photograph: Laura Hutton

 

Northern Ireland’s 23 housing associations borrowed a record £680 million (€931m) from private finance sources last year to deliver unprecedented investment in the sector, latest figures show.

More new social houses were built in the North last year than in areas of Britain, with the combined turnover of housing associations in Northern Ireland jumping by 5.5 per cent to £214 million.

The latest figures, compiled by PwC, and presented on Thursday at the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA) 2015 Housing Finance Conference in Belfast, show that local housing associations also grew their operating surplus by 8.1 per cent to £56 million.

According to Jennie Donald, NIFHA’s deputy chief executive, this surplus will go back into the development of more new housing - since the economic downturn the housing associations have been responsible for an increasing share of all new homes built in the North.

NIFHA says between 2011 and 2015 housing associations delivered more than 10,000 new social and affordable homes.

The associations employ almost 3,000 people across the North and as a result are estimated to contribute in the region of £60 million to the local economy in wages.

46,000 properties

PwC’s latest figures show the associations own and manage more than 46,000 properties and their combined assets have increased by 19 per cent to £3.4 billion, while-long term debt has also grown by 48 per cent.

Ms Donald said the figures show that despite the local economic pressures housing associations have been resilient and continued to deliver high quality services and support for individuals, families and communities.

She said the fact that several associations have ambitious projects underway such as Derry-based Apex which is behind one of the largest social housing projects in over a decade to deliver 197 new family homes at Galliagh and Fold Housing which plans to develop 600 social and affordable homes, show that the sector is adaptable.