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Dr Stewart Smyth and the NIPSA Team
Dr Stewart Smyth and the NIPSA Team

Dr Stewart Smyth, who has recently joined the Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management (CHASM) at the University of Birmingham, has published a fascinating report on ‘21st Century Housing for Northern Ireland’.  Dr Smyth has written extensively about social housing in Britain with particular emphasis on financing and policy implications.

The report was commissioned by The Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA) which is the largest trade union in Northern Ireland. There are two official launches of the Policy and Research publication in Belfast on 21st February and Londonderry on 26th February 2020.

Dr Smyth commented:

“With the Northern Irish (NI) Executive government now re-established and a new Minister in-charge of the NI Housing Executive, we need to see significant changes in housing policy. In 2018, the leaked letter by Leo O’Reilly, the Permanent Secretary in the Department for Communities, highlighted how precarious the future of the NIHE is, due to disastrous public housing policies developed in Westminster and uncritically implemented by Stormont. The latest off-the-shelf proposal to follow the Rochdale social housing model, which was developed specifically for the circumstances that applied in the former mill town, are not appropriate for the future of the NIHE, as shown in our report. Inevitable decline or unthinkingly following the Rochdale model are not the only possible futures for the NIHE. We can have alternative housing policies that support the Housing Executive, not just to maintain its current levels of provision but also to address the growing homelessness crisis in NI.”

NIPSA General Secretary, Alison Millar said:

“It is a failure of the system that four decades after the establishment of the NIHE that has been a success, particularly during the turmoil of the days of the ‘troubles’ it is highly regrettable that the heart has been ripped out of a system that was recognised across Europe as an excellent housing model which delivered for citizens. Over the past two decades the issue of social housing has been replaced by a chronic housing shortage which has left thousands of families at the hands of private landlords whose only interest is to profiteer of the back of the most vulnerable families in our society. It is a disgrace that the housing lists continue to rise and families are often in a crisis situation and cannot find a home which they are able to afford and live in safely and securing. In the 21st Century surely everyone has a right to have somewhere to call home and feel safe and secure in that environment. For these reasons NIPSA commissioned Dr Stewart Smyth to carry out the research which has been launched in Belfast.”

Read the report '21st Century Housing for Nothern Ireland'.

Find out more about CHASM's research.