Policy Manifesto 2016
As an independent charitable organisation that champions tenant and community participation, Supporting Communities has developed a policy manifesto to influence politicians and decision makers as they form the government.
Our Key Manifesto Challenges to Political Parties are to:
Create fair and timely regulatory standards for Tenant Participation for all social landlords.
Commit to support a resourced NI wide Independent Body to support Social Housing Providers to meet the requirements of the Tenant Participation Strategy.
Ensure that Social Housing providers are given the flexibility to access the funds required to improve stock and continue to develop properties to meet the ever increasing demand for housing.
Safeguard investment in improving social housing stock.
Ensure that Social Housing remains the affordable tenure of choice.
Provide an undertaking that the Private Rented Sector is appropriately regulated.
Our Key Positions
Social Housing Reform
Recognising that significant progress has been in the consideration of the need to bring social housing in Northern Ireland up to date, Supporting Communities would ask that political parties commit to:
involving tenants and their representatives in any decisions which have an impact on housing policy and practice in the province.
support for the establishment of an independent regulatory framework to ensure the effective measurement and scrutiny of the social housing sector in Northern Ireland.
creating sustainable communities and working together to ensure the best outcomes for social housing tenants, regardless of their landlord.
The Department for Social Development should place a requirement on all social landlords to develop formal tenant participation strategies and to offer advice and guidance to landlords on standards for participation and involvement against which they will be measured.
We support proposals for:
- Regulatory Standards for Tenant Participation
- Defining the role and contribution made by social landlords
- An independent body to support tenant participation
Public Landlord Function
We believe that the public landlord function currently provided by the Housing Executive should be protected and supported in the Programme for Government. A number of key actions are required:
- Investment in the housing stock to bring all properties up to ‘Lifetime Homes’ standard
- The integrity of the public housing stock should be sustained and its quantity increased where need is established
- Public housing should be recognised as a ‘tenure of choice’ with a valuable contribution to the housing market
Private Rented Sector
As the private rented sector continues to play an enhanced role in meeting urgent need and becomes the only tenure available to many households, we believe that the sector should be appropriately regulated, with minimum standards in housing management agreed as a matter of course.
We are also seeking a tangible commitment to the elimination of the Digital Divide in terms of both access and skills – a problem that disproportionately affects people living in social housing and some of the most vulnerable in our society. We believe full digital inclusion is an essential component in encouraging active and involved citizens.
Other Policy Issues
Housing need is steadily increasing in Northern Ireland. Supporting Communities ask that political parties commit first, to arresting that decline and secondly, through increased investment in the public and social sectors to actively seek to fully address housing need.
Welfare Access and Affordability
Political parties should ensure that everyone is able to access a home that meets their needs. In addition, parties should ensure that social welfare and income maintenance systems enable everyone to live in a home that is right for them and that government is committed to protecting the most vulnerable people from changes to benefits and entitlements. A continued commitment to the Supporting People budget and programmes is essential.
Greater commitment is also required to tackle household indebtedness and to eradicate fuel poverty in Northern Ireland.
More than Bricks and Mortar
The Programme for Government should share the aspirations of local communities to good quality, warm and affordable housing in safe neighbourhoods and services which enable people to live well, enjoy better health and achieve their full potential. We ask that political parties commit to good housing and good neighbourhood management by supporting community participation in the building of sustainable, cohesive and safe neighbourhoods.