88% of 7,800 new Northern Ireland homes were private sector in 2018
Work was completed on more than 7,800 new homes in Northern Ireland over the last financial year - an increase of around 10%, according to a report.
The Northern Ireland Housing Bulletin said that of the 7,809 homes completed, 6,870 (88%) were in the private sector.
And over the year work began on 8,424 new homes, with 89% destined for the private sector. But in the first quarter of this year, there has been a fall of over 10% to 1,760 in the number of new home starts, according to the bulletin from the Department for Communities.
And of the 1,760 new homes started, 1,582 are being worked on for the private sector. That was down by 9.9% on the first quarter of 2018, when work was started on 1,756 dwellings.
However, there was an even steeper fall on the number of homes started for social housing from 204 in the first quarter of 2018 to 178 in the first quarter of this year.
And while new dwelling starts had fallen year-on-year, there was an increase in completions of 9.7%. Work was finished on 1,869 new homes between January and March this year, compared to 1,704 in the first quarter a year earlier. The number of private sector completions rose 19.5% - but there was a 50% fall in social housing completions from 241 to 120.
The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) for Northern Ireland said the figures show more affordable housing is needed.
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Justin Cartwright, policy and engagement manager at the Chartered Institute of Housing in Northern Ireland, said the overall year-on-year increase in new home completions was "very welcome news".
But he said housing supply "remains an issue for lower income households and people who need social housing".
"There were 1,786 new social homes provided over the period - an increase on the previous year," he added.
"It's welcome that social housing investment continues to be given relatively high priority in Northern Ireland. At the same time the number falls short of the 2,000 homes the Housing Executive says are needed.
"This number would be difficult to achieve in the current environment, due to budgeting and associated issues that have arisen from the political impasse."
The bulletin also said that there had been 4,617 households presenting as homeless to the NI Housing Executive during the first quarter, which was down 7.4% on the first quarter of 2018.