Housing that is well-designed and in the right place can assist with the creation of integrated diverse communities. Good Housing helps ensure that people live well and are healthy – it also brings social, economic and environmental value to communities.
Meeting the housing needs of citizens in these islands is a challenge faced by all British Irish Council Member Administrations and one that was recognised when the work sector was established in 2009.
Since then the BIC Administrations have focused on sharing information, knowledge and best practice on a number of areas including: supply and allocation of social housing, housing benefits and affordable housing. Most recently the Housing work sector has been working jointly with the Collaborative Spatial Planning (CSP) work sector. (see below)
The Northern Ireland Executive is the lead administration and chairs the Housing work sector.
Recent and Current Focus
Preparing a new Work Plan has been one of the key activities of the Housing work sector during this reporting period, alongside joint work with the Collaborative Spatial Planning work sector. Energy efficient, environmentally friendly Housing in well-designed areas are issues currently being taken forward.
The value of working with the CSP work sector has been realised and culminated with the staging in Belfast during November 2019 of a joint Symposium titled, ‘Creating an Inclusive Future Vision for our Ageing Populations’ and considered how policy professionals might address some of the key spatial planning and housing challenges in the period up to 2040.
This was the first joint sectoral event held within the Council framework and organised by the two work sectors in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Executive Departments for Communities and Infrastructure.
Over a hundred policy professionals, academics, statutory bodies and external stakeholders from across the eight BIC Member Administrations joined together to collectively address key challenges which might help to better shape future policy making. Presentations, workshop discussions and debate added further context and fed useful insights to our policy makers and the event also drew upon reports generated by the Demography work sector which was wound down in late 2016.
More recently, the subsequent Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted that the older population are a particularly vulnerable cohort and the work sector is continuing to investigate how the Council can provide a platform to share ideas on how to support this part of our shared populations.