Final Stage: Housing (Amendment) Bill – Tuesday 30 June 2020

Minister for Communities Caral Ni Chuilin introduces the Final Stage of the Housing (Amendment) Bill before Members discuss the Bill for the final time before it is passed.

The purpose of the Bill is to facilitate a reversal of the decision of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to reclassify Registered Housing Associations (RHAs). The ONS is the UK’s largest independent producer of official statistics and is the
recognised national statistical institute for the UK. It is responsible for collecting and publishing statistics related to the economy, population and society at national, regional and local levels.

On 29 September 2016 the ONS announced that RHAs in Northern Ireland would be reclassified to the public sector and designated as Public Non-Financial Corporations. This decision means that borrowing drawn down by RHAs to finance new
social housing developments would constitute public expenditure and would therefore be charged against the NI Executive budget.

Given the implications of this the NI Executive asked that proposals be brought forward (including amendments to legislation as necessary) to enable it to seek a reversal of the ONS decision.