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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Housing commitments in New Decade, New Approach deal

Housing Rights welcomes the significant housing and welfare related commitments contained in the New Decade, New Approach deal, which restored the Northern Ireland Executive on 11th January 2020.

Priorities of the Restored Executive

Among the priorities of the restored executive is a commitment to “delivering a fair and compassionate society that supports working families and the most vulnerable.” This commitment includes:

  • Including Housing as a specific priority in the Programme for Government.
  • Introducing legislation to reclassify housing associations, enabling housing associations to continue building new social housing and intermediate housing, including the Co-ownership Housing Scheme after March 2020.
  • Enhancing investment and agreeing a target for new social and affordable home starts.
  • Tackling the maintenance backlog for NIHE properties.
  • Examining options to remove historical debt from the NIHE and exclude it from having to pay Corporation Tax, and set a long-term trajectory for the rental charges for NIHE homes which is sustainable and is affordable to tenants.
  • Extending existing welfare mitigation measures beyond March 2020, when they are currently due to expire. The deal also includes a review of welfare mitigation measures to be taken forward as a priority, with any agreed measures in place before March 2020.

Programme for Government

The New Decade, New Approach deal commits to “an ambitious Programme for Government firmly focused on improving prosperity and wellbeing for all.” The focus of the 2019/20 PfG will be on actions and decisions capable of achieving impact in key priority areas including;


The deal commits to a standalone housing outcome as one of the priorities in the new Programme for Government. This new outcome and indicators will provide specific focus on ensuring every household has access to a good quality, affordable and sustainable home that is appropriate for its needs. Housing Rights strongly welcomes this commitment as we know, through the experience of our clients, that access to a good quality, affordable and sustainable home is fundamental to people’s wellbeing.

Fair and sustainable welfare reform

As well as committing to extend existing welfare mitigations beyond March 2020, the deal commits to a review of welfare mitigation measures, to be taken forward as a priority, with any agreed measures in place before March 2020. Again, Housing Rights strongly welcomes this commitment. As a member of the Cliff Edge Coalition we are one of over 100 organisations urgently calling for legislation to be passed in order for welfare reform mitigations to not only be extended beyond March 2020 but also strengthened to take account of new challenges such as Universal Credit, including the two-child limit, and cuts to housing benefits in the private rented sector.

We look forward to working with the new Minster for Communities, Deirdre Hargey, in order to progress these commitments. 

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Policy, NI Assembly

This article was written on 15 January 2020. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.