The Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH), the representative body for housing associations in Ireland, today publishes a report which outlines a financial roadmap for the approved housing body (AHB) sector, which comprises of non-profit housing associations. The new roadmap would enable AHBs to continue to deliver social, affordable, and supported housing at scale in accordance with the government’s Housing for All action plan.
Speaking ahead of the report’s publication, ICSH CEO Dr Donal Mc Manus said:
“The ICSH commissioned consultants Campbell Tickell earlier this summer to conduct research and produce a report, with recommendations, to secure the future financial stability of the sector. At our National Biennial Finance and Development conference in Sligo this week, we have already hosted sessions highlighting the blockages to the delivery of new homes. The report published today provides a roadmap to tackle the financial constraints needed to increase delivery of homes for families and special need groups such as older people, people experiencing homelessness and disabled people who require support to live independently.
“The publication of this report is timely as the AHB sector is expected to deliver 43% of new social housing and 48% of the new cost rental homes to be delivered under government plans by 2030. In order to reach this target, we need to ensure that the sector has a sustainable approach in terms of the level of debt and loan finance, while bearing in mind the ongoing uncertainty in the financial markets and access to finance.
“The research also acknowledges that we need to implement solutions to tackle the financial issues associated with the management and maintenance of older housing stock to ensure that these homes remain in good condition, have improved energy efficiency for tenants and remain in our social housing stock serving the public for generations to come.
Martin Hannigan, Head of Finance and Corporate Services, at Dublin Simon and chair of the ICSH Finance Working Group, also welcomed the publication of the report.
“This piece of research outlines viable solutions to both the short term and long-term financial issues housing associations across the country are facing. For example, for many of the bigger organisations, tasked with delivering hundreds of new homes per year, the increase in the level of debt being carried and reported in their balance sheets has led to a consequent increase in their financial gearing. If this issue is not managed effectively, it will impede the sector’s ability to secure non-government finance, which in turn will hinder their ability to deliver on their targets.
“The solutions to this issue explored in this report include the reintroduction of grant funding, the early repayment of CALF (Capital Advance Leasing Facility) loans, and conversion of CALF to a State equity advance. These three recommendations are worthy of further examination.
“The recommendations in relation to supported housing and especially in relation to HSE Section 39 revenue funding review are also welcome and we are looking forward to a healthy discussion on this recommendation along with all the additional aspects of the report with delegates this morning.“