£280m for Northern Ireland social housing
The European Investment Bank (EIB) supports 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 begin construction on 4,700 new social homes over the next five years and retro-fit of many existing units.
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 direct 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.”
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 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."
£500m for North-West England’s water and wastewater networks to serve more than 7 million customers
The EIB has just agreed a new GBP 500 million loan to United Utilities to improve North-West England’s water and wastewater networks.
The European Investment Bank has agreed to provide GBP 500 million to support investment across the north-west of England by United Utilities. The 18 year loan from Europe’s long-term lending institution will be used to finance improvements to the region’s water and wastewater networks as part of United Utilities’ GBP 3.5 billion capital investment programme for the 2015 to 2020 regulatory period. As the North West’s water and wastewater company, United Utilities serves seven million domestic customers and 200,000 business customers.
Local schemes being supported by the new European Investment Bank loan include the proposed pipeline to link West Cumbria to Thirlmere and the rest of the regional water network; work in Blackpool to increase the capacity of the sewer network and reduce the impact of storm overflows on bathing waters; and a major scheme to upgrade and replace half of the treatment process at the company’s largest wastewater treatment works at Davyhulme.
Capital investment backed by the European Investment Bank loan also includes enabling customers to better manage water use through water meters.
United Utilities’ investment programme builds on the successes of the previous five-year period, supported by previous loans from the EIB. These include the completion of a £200 million extension to Liverpool wastewater treatment works – hailed as a milestone in the clean-up of the River Mersey and the regeneration of the city waterfront. Other schemes that have benefitted from the funding include the West East Link water pipeline between Liverpool and Bury and the SBAP sludge recycling centre in Manchester.
In the last 10 years the European Investment Bank has provided nearly GBP 5.3 billion for direct investment across the north-west, with additional investment from UK wide programmes. This has included support for the new Alder Hey in the Park and Royal Liverpool University Hospitals, Manchester Metrolink, upgrading the West Coast Mainline, investment at Halewood and providing half the financing for the Liverpool 2 Port scheme. The EIB has also supported investment in new schools in Manchester, Stockport, Wigan, Blackpool, Halton and Chester and social housing across the region including in Toxteth, Chester and Port Sunlight.
During 2014 the European Investment Bank, Europe’s long-term lending institution, provided more than GBP 6 billion to support long-term investment for a broad range of infrastructure projects across the UK. This represented the largest ever engagement by the European Investment Bank in the United Kingdom since the first operation in the country in 1973. 2014 lending included the EIB’s largest ever single loan, GBP 1.5 billion to support investment by National Grid to improve renewable energy transmission and upgrade electricity infrastructure.
The European Investment Bank has provided more than GBP 12.6 billion for investment in water and waste water infrastructure across the UK since 1976, including expanding reservoirs, reducing leaks and protecting against flooding.
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.