Yesterday in the October Monitoring round, the DFP minister Sammy Wilson allocated an additional £10m for the Northern Ireland Co-ownership Housing Association and £2m for energy efficiency improvements to social housing.
Originally there was £15m in the budget this year for co-ownership housing but last month it became clear that some additional money might be available and I met with the Co-ownership Housing Association to see if they could allocate any additional money. Recently the demand has been greater than they could meet and they have ben operating a lottery system to see who they could help. They assured me that the demand was there and that they could handle the additional work. As a result I bid for £10m in the monitoring round and it has been allocated.
However it was also important to ensure that the banks were on board for this additional demand, that they would be able to meet the demand and that they would be able to handle the mortage element quickly enough to anable purchasers to complete their house purchases in time. Sammy Wilson and I met with the banks on two occasions and they assured us that they could process the mortgage element in time.
This is good news and will enable 170 more people to acquire a home under co-ownership. These are people who could not otherwise afford to get on to the property ladder but through this scheme they will have an affordable home.
This year along, through co-ownership and the first-buy scheme, we will be able to help 700 families acquire and affordable home.
Another important issue is fuel poverty and the best way to address this is through improving the energy efficiency of homes. However 60% of Housing Executive homes syill have single glazed windows. The allocation of £2m will enable them to install double glazing and better insulation in many homes. I had bid for £4m but if the Housing Executive are able to have the £2m spent in time there should be another £2m available in the next monitoring round.
All of this is good new for the construction industry as it will create additional work for the building trade. They will also benefit from additional allocations to the Department of Education for school maintenance and to the DRD for roads.