Belfast Telegraph

Lack of Executive to reverse status change could hit social housing

By Emma Deighan

The chief executive of the largest social housing organisation here has raised concerns over the reclassification of the sector and the impact it will have on the public purse.

John McLean of Radius, which was formed from the merger of the former Fold and Helm housing associations, said that the reclassification of social housing to an arm's length body from a private body last year means the organisation's debt will now be considered as public debt.

He said: "We need to make changes to get back to private bodies and in the absence of a local government someone somewhere is going to have to make the decision.

"All that private money borrowed will be seen now as government money which will have implications on Northern Ireland inc. It's a significant issue," he said.

Mr McLean said that other jurisdictions in the UK were working through and looking to change the classification. But he said that without an Executive, debts incurred by the organisation will "have an impact on borrowing for other vital projects." And he said borrowing more money is set to be big on the agenda for Radius as he anticipated more demand for social housing. "And it will rise significantly if welfare reform bites," Mr McLean said.

Belfast Telegraph

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