£180m scheme for social housing in Northern Ireland

The Department for Social Development wants to step up the house building programme

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A record finance deal worth £180m will kick-start the construction of 1,600 new homes in Northern Ireland.

Clanmil Housing Association has secured most of the money in loans from banks.

Finance Minister Simon Hamilton said: "This demonstrates growing confidence in the economy, where banks are prepared to invest in sound projects."

The homes will be built over four years and be available for low rent to those on the social housing waiting list.

Clanmil said the work would support an estimated 1,000 jobs in, or linked to, the construction sector.

Danske Bank has lent £75m and Barclays £45m.

The additional capital has come from the Department for Social Development (DSD).

The DSD wants to step up the house building programme, with 22,500 people on the social housing waiting list, classed as being in housing stress.

Clanmil currently owns 3,500 homes.

It said its "challenge" had been to find new funding sources given the constraints on public spending.

It is looking for land with development potential throughout Northern Ireland.

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