THE construction industry and social housing projects in Northern Ireland are set to benefit from a boost of more than £30m thanks to a funding partnership between a housing group and a loan firm.
Clanmil Housing is hoping that the windfall will contribute to the construction of 300 new social homes across Northern Ireland over the next 18 months, securing almost 300 on-site jobs as well as supporting many more associated jobs throughout the supply chain.
In April, it was revealed that the construction industry had again recorded the most severe decline across the whole of the UK.
There were 41,356 applicants on Northern Ireland's social housing waiting list at March 31 2013, of which 22,414 are deemed to be in housing stress.
Now Clanmil has teamed up with The Housing Finance Corporation (THFC), an independent, not-for-profit organisation that makes loans to regulated housing associations, that provide affordable housing throughout the UK.
THFC is providing a £17m loan to help Clanmil access some £14m in grant funding from the Department for Social Development.
The funding has been provided by THFC through an aggregated bond issue of £55m funding 10 social housing borrowers, of which Clanmil is the largest participant. At 4.31% for 30 years, this is one of the most competitive rates of interest for long-term borrowing ever achieved for UK Housing Associations.
Jonathan Boggs, group finance director at Clanmil, said that the funding is cost-effective and good news in a tough lending market.
"Faced with growing demand for social housing and increasing constraints on statutory funding, our challenge is to find new funding sources that will support continued investment in social housing and make available public money go further," he said.
"This funding leaves us well placed to continue to play a major role in providing affordable homes for people in housing need."
John Armstrong of the Construction Employers Federation welcomed the funding. He said: "It will help in the provision of much-needed social housing and also provide a real boost to the construction industry."