New Minister addresses housing sector
Housing professionals from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will hear from newly appointed Minister for Social Development this week at the Conference of the Isles in Newcastle, Co. Down.
The annual gathering of professionals working in housing takes places as the Northern Ireland Executive considers the potential impact of £128m in public expenditure cuts across government, as announced by the Chancellor yesterday. Conference delegates will debate the future spending environment and will hear from experts from across Britain and Ireland on how to deliver housing with less public investment and how to build greater partnerships between the public and private sectors.
Social Development Minister, Alex Attwood MLA, will address conference delegates on Thursday morning in one of his initial keynote speeches as the Minister with responsibility for housing. Commenting on his participation in the Conference of the Isles, Minister Attwood said: "It is a pleasure to be invited to this important and timely annual conference. The theme today 'Moving Housing Forward Together' recognises that we must all plan together for the future and in these uncertain financial times we must be innovative in deciding how best to move forward. There are thousands of people in social housing need across the UK and Ireland and it is only by planning together and sharing best practice across these isles that we can address housing need and supply."
Will Haire, DSD’s Permanent Secretary, will also be taking part in the conference, chairing a session on how to stretch public resources in order to continue supporting those who require it most. Other speakers include, Matthew Taylor of the Royal Society of the Arts, Michael Mulreany of the Institute of Public Administration in Dublin and Simon Hamilton MLA, the Chair of the Social Development Committee. Jamie Delargy will be offering his perspective on housing in media and John Simpson of the Belfast Telegraph will share his thoughts on the future of housing agencies in Northern Ireland.
Paddy Gray, Professor of Housing at the University of Ulster and Vice-President of the Chartered Institute of Housing welcomed the Minister’s role in the conference: "We are delighted that the new Minister for Social Development will be delivering the keynote address at the conference, in what must be a very busy first week for him. This is an exciting time to be working in housing, with the potential for transformation and innovation across the sector. Conference delegates will be interested in hearing Minister Attwood’s thoughts on how we can move housing forward and build on the excellent work that has already been done. It is also important to look at how similar housing difficulties are being tackled in the Republic of Ireland and how we can learn from each other to ensure decent housing for all of our citizens."
The Conference of the Isles’ cross-border focus has provided an invaluable forum in which housing professionals in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland can come together to share ideas and best practice and many housing organisations on both sides of the border are already working together.
The Conference of the Isles will take place on Thursday 27th and Friday 28th May in the Slieve Donard Hotel. It is jointly hosted by the Chartered Institute of Housing and the University of Ulster's School of the Built Environment and has been running since 1999.