NERI Seminar Belfast: Housing in Northern Ireland and its implications for living standards

27 September 2018

Topic: Housing in Northern Ireland and its implications for living standards

Speaker: Paul Mac Flynn, Senior Economist, NERI and Dr Lisa Wilson, Economist, NERI

Date: 27th September 2018

Time: 15.45. (Tea and Coffee from 15.30. Seminar ends 16.45.)

Venue: INTO, 23-24 College Gardens, Belfast, BT9 6BS


The ‘supply’ and ‘affordability’ of housing are some of most prominent public policy issues of the day, and for good reason. The housing that people are in is an important determinant of their well-being, and it is something on which people – especially those on lower incomes - typically spend a substantial fraction of their income.

Looking at supply and demand there does not appear to be any misallocation between the regions of Northern Ireland in terms of overall housing provision. However, in assessing the sufficiency of different types of housing the evidence does show that there is a considerable shortage of supply of social housing in regions where demand is highest. This is linked to the significant shift in housing tenure type which has been witnessed over the past 10 years, and in particular to the significant increase in private rental and outright ownership.

In terms of affordability, on average, housing in Northern Ireland appears to be relatively affordable. Yet, as this paper will show the living standards of particular groups at the margins are significantly impacted by housing costs. This is particularly the case for low income households, in the private rented sector, who face a particularly high housing cost burden and a high risk of poverty. The evidence suggests that the social rented sector should be expanded to include these households, rather than seeking to intervene in the private rental market.


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INTO, 23-24 College Gardens, Belfast, BT9 6BS

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