Ballymena District Housing Plan launched
Published: Fri, 5 Sep 2014
The Housing Executive is continuing its annual round of district council meetings and recently made a presentation to Ballymena Borough Council.
This is the final year in which the Housing Executive will meet the 26 councils, as they currently exist, following their establishment in 1973.
Speaking at the annual presentation of the District Housing Plan to Ballymena Borough Council Chief Executive, Mags Lightbody, said, “The Housing Executive has always prided itself in having a close working relationship with local councils and it is important this continues with the new and much enlarged new councils. The coming year is a period of transition for the new councils and in many ways that can also be said for the Housing Executive.
“2014 marks a turning point for the Housing Executive. Internal restructuring which has brought greater clarity and definition between our landlord and regional strategic housing functions is well advanced and we have now embarked on a ‘Journey to Excellence’, a programme which will ensure we deliver quality housing services to all our customers.
“There is a lot of work that needs to be done to meet housing need, improve the housing stock and provide support for the most vulnerable in our community. It is essential that this work is delivered efficiently, effectively and prudently.
“One of the main issues we face is the demand for social housing and the number of people deemed to be in housing stress across Northern Ireland exceeds 20,000. Last year, through our regional services, we facilitated the completion of 1,967 much needed new social homes along with 1,299 starts on site. This year, in partnership with the housing associations, it is planned to start 2,000 new homes.
“Maintaining our stock of over 89,000 homes remains a priority for the Housing Executive and during 2013/14, through our landlord role, we were able to complete planned schemes to over 18,000 homes including external maintenance, kitchen replacements, heating installations and double glazing. This year we are investing over £155m in our maintenance programme.”
Referring specifically to the Housing Executive’s investment in Ballymena Borough Council area, Frank O’ Connor, North Regional Manager said, “The Housing Executive has enjoyed an excellent relationship with Ballymena Borough council, both councillors and officers, working in partnership to deliver services to the people of the borough.
“We have strong agenda for Ballymena. During 2014/15, we will support the delivery of new social housing as well as investing £5.26 million upgrading and maintaining tenants’ homes, supporting people to live independently, increasing the energy efficiency of homes and providing grant aid in the private sector.”
“Maintaining our stock is a priority for the Housing Executive and this year we will be spending £2.24 million on planned and response maintenance to Housing Executive homes. This will include the installation of double glazing in 326 homes, new heating in 157 homes, smoke alarms in 405 homes.
“We will also support those tenants who need help to live independently in their homes through the provision of adaptations. Last year we spent £137,100 on both major and minor works helping people live more comfortably in their homes.”
“As part of the Housing Executive’s Community Involvement Strategy a Tenant Scrutiny Panel for the East area was established. This panel scrutinises the services they feel are most important to tenants in the local area and has undertaken some valuable work reviewing and improving housing services for local people. The Housing Executive’s BRIC Programme and Shared Communities Programme remained important contributors to the local community.”
Turning to Regional Services, Frank O’Connor continued, “Through our Regional Services we will help meet social housing need through support to the social development programme. During 2014/15, in partnership with the housing associations, 83 new units of accommodation are planned to start on site.
“We support the most vulnerable through the Supporting People Programme with just under £2.63 million for housing support services for 2014/15. We currently fund 27 sheltered and supported housing schemes in Ballymena Borough.
“In addition we will provide assistance to help adapt homes in the private sector through Disabled Facilities Grants. Last year we completed 29 Disabled Facilities Grants and approved 30 with an investment of £330,000. We will also support improvement and repairs in the private sector through the provision of £0.33 million in grant aid and energy efficiency initiatives in the private sector through the new Affordable Warmth Scheme and the Boiler Replacement Scheme.”
Frank O’Connor concluded, “Our local staff continue to provide a dedicated housing service to the Ballymena Borough Council Area. They work alongside our Customer Services Unit, Accounts and Housing Benefit teams to provide our tenants and the wider community with an effective and efficient service.
“I would like to extend my thanks to the councillors and officers of Ballymena Borough Council for their support to the Housing Executive over the past year. We look forward to continuing to work with the new shadow council on issues of mutual interest in the coming year.”