Belfast Telegraph

New Executive 'must not just focus on social housing'

By John Mulgrew

The next Northern Ireland Executive should support the construction industry to take on more apprentices and trainees in order to boost the housing market here, according to a report.

A newly released report from Halifax, which was compiled following a round-table discussion with housing experts, argues that Northern Ireland's housing policymakers should "broaden their focus and try to encourage all types of housing tenure".

It says that there was "broad consensus among guests that local housing policy was too focused on social housing provision".

"According to some participants, an over-emphasis on social housing could actually create a social housing problem.

"The other core issues raised were the shortage of skilled workers and housing professionals working in Northern Ireland, and the need for greater availability of mortgages and developer capital."

The report also said that Northern Ireland "has one of the worst negative equity problems in the UK".

"The Northern Ireland Executive housing policy should seek to help home owners facing this situation," it said.

Jim McCooe, of Lloyds Banking Group in Northern Ireland, the parent company of Halifax, said: "While the Executive's focus on social housing is understandable, more attention needs to be paid to other forms of housing provision as well as the skills provision in the supply chain. Without this focus, the local market will continue to face challenges. Our report shows that the imagination and will to create a fair and prosperous housing market exists within the sector.

"However, this must be matched by political will if we are to see real change. What we now need is a stable, devolved government at Stormont to start working with the sector to help deliver an improved housing market in Northern Ireland."

Belfast Telegraph

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