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Launch of Regulation Office Annual Report 2014 and Financial Standard

Launch of Regulation Office Annual Report 2014 and Financial Standard
14 Jul 2015

·         New report provides full overview of the AHB sector for the first time

·         In one year 194 Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) signed up for Regulation

·         80% of all AHB social housing stock now protected by Regulation

·         23,831 tenants' homes protected

·         More robust Financial Regulation being introduced to enable investment and further supply of social homes.

The Regulation Office at the Housing Agency released its first Annual Report and Sectoral Analysis on the regulation of AHBs today. The Annual Report highlights the importance of regulation and explains how regulation is necessary to facilitate the delivery of more social housing. The Annual Report provides, for the first time, key data and analysis on the AHB sector operating in Ireland based on individual regulatory assessment of 142 AHBs. The analysis gives a clear picture of the AHB sector nationally, including information on housing stock, performance, governance and financial management.

Key findings from the first Annual Report and Sectoral Analysis include:

·         80% of all AHB housing stock or 23,831 tenants' homes are now protected through Regulation 

·         194 AHBs are now signed up to  regulation

·         The Regulation Office carried out regulatory assessments on 142 organisations

·         These AHBs are performing well against the regulatory standards

·         The sectoral analysis shows that the sector is a significant employer with over 2,500 employees.

·         Significant investment has been made by the State in the sector with over €1.7 Billion provided in capital grants to the larger AHBs alone

·         A low level of debt, with larger AHBs having a debt per unit of less than €3k, together with sound operating margins of 17%, means that the sector is well positioned to leverage further private investment to supply more homes

The Regulation Office is also launching the Financial Standard and Assessment Framework for AHBs. This Financial Standard further extends the existing Regulatory Framework to provide for robust financial regulation and oversight of the sector. It is an important step in building confidence in the new regulatory system and the reputation and creditworthiness of AHBs. It is also an important component in enabling the sector to borrow public and private finance in order to provide more social housing.

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr Alan Kelly TD said:

“AHBs must play a key role in delivering the 35,000 new homes as set out in our Social Housing Strategy 2020. Regulation is essential in underpinning this expanding role for AHBs and supporting the sector’s long-term growth. The Financial Standards, being launched today, will further strengthen the capacity of the sector to access funding - not just from the State, but from other lenders. Financing that growth is important and regulation is critical for this investment to become low-risk.

I am working to bring forward legislation to put Regulation of AHBs on a statutory basis. This is in the interests of existing tenants and future supply. I would like to thank the interim Regulatory Committee, the Regulation Office and the Housing Agency in delivering on such a significant piece of work this year.”

Speaking at the event, Dr Jennie Donald, Chair of the interim Regulatory Committee said:

“Regulation is a key element of the Social Housing Strategy 2020 and will support AHBs to deliver the strategy's objectives. It provides assurance for lenders and investors that the sector is stable, well governed and accountable and has the capacity to support the development of new homes. The presence of regulatory oversight is critical in building the confidence of lenders to invest in the sector.

The new regulatory structures established by the Minister are already demonstrating their value, providing an important overview and insight into AHB's governance, financial viability and performance.”

Ms Rosalind Carroll, Head of Regulation stated:

“Providing assurance to tenants, safeguarding existing assets, and enabling more social housing supply is at the heart of what we want to achieve. We do this by requiring social landlords to be financially viable and accountable for their performance. Our first assessments show that the sector is already on the right path to achieving this and we will continue to work with the sector to further enhance performance. The sector has an opportunity to grow as a result of regulation and the solid base of very low debt and good operating margins, which all facilitate borrowing for the development of more social homes”.

For further information, contact:

Download the reports in full here

Ciara O’Connor at the Housing Agency Communications Office: 01 6564171 or communications@housing.ie

 

Notes to the Editor:

 

The Regulation Office, established within the Housing Agency, sets out to ensure quality services to AHB tenants by regulating well governed, well managed and financially viable organisations. The focus is on protecting the existing social housing assets and enabling new supply into the future. Under the Government’s Social Housing Strategy 2020, the AHB sector is to expand its housing delivery capacity, and significantly increase external investment in the sector.

 

The Regulation Code ‘Building for the Future’ (the Code), was launched in July 2013 and is a precursor to statutory regulation. The Code outlines the building blocks of a statutory regulatory system and sets out key governance, financial and tenant management principles that apply to all AHBs who sign up to regulation .  Government funding is now prioritised on the basis of compliance with the new regulatory framework. It is also mandatory for all newly established to sign up to regulation prior to gaining ‘Approved Body’ status.

 

The Regulation Office reports directly to and is led by an interim Regulation Committee (iRC), appointed by the Minister for Housing and Planning in February 2014. It is a Committee under the Board of the Housing Agency.

 

About the Housing Agency:

 

The Housing Agency was set up in May 2010 to work with and support

•           Local Authorities

•           Approved Housing Bodies, and

•           The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government

in the delivery of housing and housing services. The Agency’s mission is to enable everyone to live in good quality, affordable homes.

 

List of AHBs participating in the Pilot for the rollout of the Financial Standard for the Sector

Circle Voluntary Housing Association

Clanmil Housing Association (Ireland) Ltd

Cluid Housing Association

Focus Ireland

Hail – Housing Association for Integrated Living

Nabco – National Association of Building Cooperatives

Oaklee Housing Trust

Respond! Housing Association

Tuath Housing