THE European Investment Bank (EIB) is supporting two major projects that will provide a total of £280m for social housing in Northern Ireland.
The long-term loans mark the Bank’s first direct engagement with social housing providers in the region and will substantially lower the cost of borrowing for Choice and Apex housing associations who have received EIB approval for £150m and £130m respectively.
They now join a shortlist of high performing associations in the UK and Ireland that have met the EIB’s requirements for credit approval. Legal contracts are expected to be concluded in the coming weeks
The funding, alongside statutory support from the Department for Communities, will enable the associations to beginconstruction on 4,700 new social homes over the next five years and retro-fit of many existing units.
Jonathan Taylor, European Investment Bank Vice President said:
“The European Investment Bank has a firm commitment to supporting new investment in social and affordable housing across the UK that represents nearly half of overall EIB backing for social housing in Europe.
“I am pleased to be in Belfast and Bangor today to confirm our largest ever support for social housing investment in Northern Ireland with two excellent local partners, Choice and Apex housing associations.
“The GBP 280 million provided by the European Investment Bank will ensure more than GBP 560 million of overall investment that will improve lives, create jobs, benefit local suppliers and cut heating bills in homes across Northern Ireland.”
Michael McDonnell, Chief Executive of Choice Housing said:
“This investment package demonstrates confidence in our ability to deliver high quality outcomes and gives us access to the most cost-effective long-term finance arrangements ever used in Northern Ireland.
“Ultimately that means we can make public money go further and put more social homes in the areas where they are needed most.
“As a social enterprise, we are directing our resources and commercial ambition towards long-term opportunities that can deliver more for the communities we serve. This is a great result for us, EIB and for the region.”
Martin Doherty, Chairman of Apex, said;
“We are delighted that Vice President Taylor has taken time out of his busy schedule to visit our housing led regeneration schemes in North Belfast to see for himself the impact that the EIB funding can and will have on inner city communities.
“The EIB financial package will underpin Apex’s future development plans and enable us to continue our current programme of transforming disused brownfield sites in Belfast such as Girdwood, North Queen Street police station, Tiger’s Bay and in other high need areas across Northern Ireland, into high quality, vibrant communities where people want to live.”
Paul Givan MLA, Minister for Communities, welcomed the investment: “This funding shows the confidence that the European Investment Bank has in the work of local housing associations and is a clear indication that social housing is a strong market which continues to deliver.
“My Department already provides significant funding for social housing and this combination of public and private financing will enable Choice Housing and Apex, two of our leading providers of social housing to build more social housing for those in most need across Northern Ireland.”
The new EIB support was formally announced during a site visit by Jonathan Taylor, Vice President of the European Investment Bank to a new Choice Housing development in Greenisland. Mr Taylor also visited Apex Housing Schemes in North Belfast.
The GBP 280 million to be provided by the European Investment Bank will be match-funded by grants from the Northern Ireland government and other sources ensuring more than GBP 560 million of overall investment to improve lives, create jobs, benefit local suppliers and cut heating bills in homes across the Northern Ireland.
Lending by the EIB in the UK last year totalled GBP 5.6 billion and supported long-term investment in 40 projects across the country. This represented the largest annual engagement since the start of EIB lending in the UK in 1973 which has supported nearly GBP 16 billion of overall investment.