The Housing (NI) Order of 2003 introduced a largely discretionary grants scheme for private sector housing in Northern Ireland. Our Private Sector Grants Strategy, introduced in December 2003, targets money to deal with unfit housing and disrepair, and uses the resources of the Grants Scheme to best effect.
The aims of the scheme are:
- to ensure the continual improvement of housing standards in the private sector, to help support urban and rural regeneration
- to help vulnerable people (including people with disabilities) living in the private sector to live safely in their homes
The strategy involves three types of targeting:
- Condition based - This targets grant aid at properties in the worst condition, in particular that are unfit to live in, and those that are in disrepair and which may become unfit to live in.
- Household characteristic - Grant aid is targeted at vulnerable, financially disadvantaged and disabled people.
- Geographic - Grant aid is used to support urban and rural regeneration strategies where improving private sector housing is a strategic objective.
Additional grant aid is available in:
Our approach to delivering our Grants Strategy
We are currently reviewing the grants strategy. The new strategy will emphasize:
The objectives of the Grants Strategy
The 2004 House Condition Survey has indicated a drop in unfit housing from 4.9% of Northern Ireland homes in 2001 to 3.8% in 2004. However the rate of disrepair has remained roughly the same.
Demographic trends indicate an aging population, with increasing levels of houses occupied by sick and disabled people. The demand for adaptations through the Disabled Facilities Grant will increase. We currently spend over 25% of the grants budget on adaptations.
New housing standards
In the UK the Government has introduced the Decent Home Standard and plans to increase the percentage of private housing which meet this standard being occupied by vulnerable groups. The Government has also introduced the Housing Health and Safety Rating System in England and Wales to replace the current fitness standard.
There is currently no target set in Northern Ireland for Decent Homes in the private sector. Of all the homes which fail the Decent Homes Standard, 78% are in the private sector and, of these, 20% are occupied by vulnerable people.