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Housing Associations: Reclassification

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 15th November 2016.

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Photo of Steven Agnew Steven Agnew Green 3:15 pm, 15th November 2016

T4. Mr Agnew asked the Minister for Communities for an update on the proposed derogation of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) decision to reclassify the housing associations, including any discussions that he has had with the Minister of Finance. (AQT 489/16-21)

Photo of Paul Givan Paul Givan DUP

Responsibility for seeking that derogation from the Treasury now rests with the Minister of Finance. Work is ongoing, but the Minister of Finance has the responsibility for taking the discussions forward. As the Member knows, when it comes to relations with the Treasury, it is the always the Minister of Finance who leads on behalf of whatever Department is impacted on, which in this case is my Department.

Photo of Steven Agnew Steven Agnew Green

I thank the Minister for his response. As he said, the impact of this will very much be on his Department. Is he reassured that we are going to get a successful outcome, given the potential impact that the derogation will have on our ability to provide social housing? Is he confident that we will be able to do the work required?

Photo of Paul Givan Paul Givan DUP

The Executive recognised that the direction of travel was going to take us to this place, albeit we had to wait until the ONS took its decision. We had to know the detail of the decision and how it would have an impact in order to know how to respond. The Executive agreed that we will seek the derogation, and we have already, at that high level, agreed the strategic approach to it. It is now about seeking the derogation and then implementing the changes that will be required as a result of the ONS announcement. The swift action taken by the Executive means that I am confident that we will be able to deal with the issue effectively.