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 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Data (Continued)
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 991 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy] All stakeholders recognise the critical need to continue to increase social housing supply through build activity. When Rebuilding Ireland was published in 2016, the construction activity base and pipeline in place were so low that the action plan's build targets had to be weighted towards the latter years of the six-year programme, recognising the time lag between project conception and delivery. In 2016 and 2017, therefore, the focus was on maximising delivery by returning vacant stock to active use and by supporting the completion of vacant homes, while, in parallel, a major programme was put in place to expand the build pipeline significantly. This year, we continue to see the fruits of the expansion of the social housing construction programme. The build target for 2019 is to deliver 6,545 homes, an increase of more than 30% on last year's target. Along with teams from my Department, I have been meeting local authorities regularly to ensure every effort continues to be made to achieve this target and I am confident we are on track to deliver close to the full target.

The social housing construction status report, which is published on a quarterly basis on the Rebuilding Ireland website, provides detailed information on build activity in each local authority, including the number of homes on-site and actively being delivered. In addition to the homes being built this year, more than 3,400 additional social homes are to be delivered through acquisition and leasing schemes. In total, we are committed to ensuring more than 27,000 households are supported across all of the social housing programmes this year, bringing to 100,000 the number of households that will have been supported since 2016. Next year, in excess of 11,000 social housing homes will be delivered through build, acquisition and leasing programmes. This includes more than 7,500 newly built social housing homes, which will be 11 times the level in 2016, the first year of Rebuilding Ireland, and will be the highest number of such homes to be built this century. My Department and I will continue to work proactively with local authorities and AHBs to ensure this and other targets continue to be met.

Deputy Paul Murphy: Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy The Minister plays with figures and the definition of social housing to create confusion. To be clear, as he said, the plan is to build 6,545 new social housing homes. The plan is not to build 10,000 homes, 20,000 homes or 27,000 homes but 6,545. The figures of 27,000, 20,000 and 10,000 are the equivalent of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's 60 new hospitals and 50,000 new nurses. Can the Minister confirm that of the target number of new builds of 6,545, only just over 1,000 had been built by the halfway point of this year? Construction has to be ramped up to the extent of a 400% increase to meet that target. Does he accept that out of the figure of 10,000 he talks about, 2,130 homes are to be leased from private developers? They will be owned by private individuals, rented from the State and then rented out to people on social housing waiting lists. That does not amount to social housing.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I am not playing with figures and there is no grand conspiracy here. We published the targets for a reason. They include local authority builds, AHB builds, what is happening on private sites with Part V developments, what my Department oversees and what the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform approves. If those figures were made up, there would be a grand conspiracy involving every local authority, housing body and Department. The Deputy should stop his nonsense and stick to the facts.

Deputy Paul Murphy: Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy The Minister should stick to the facts.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy This year we will increase the social housing stock by 10,000 homes. More than 6,000 of those will be directly built for social housing, either by local authorities, AHBs or using the Part V process. We no longer rely on one stream of social housing delivery because we learned from the past that outsourcing it to the private sector leaves the strategy completely exposed if the private sector fails. To totally rely on one form of local authority housing delivery would leave the strategy exposed if there was a difficulty in that local authority area for whatever reason. We have a combination of local authority, AHB and Part V builds. Local authorities do the heavy lifting by a factor of approximately 2:1 versus AHBs. The Deputy should get his ideology out of the way. It does not matter if it is an AHB building on local authority land or a local authority building on local authority land. They are social housing homes for people coming off the social housing lists.

Deputy Paul Murphy: Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy Let us stick to the facts. The Minister should stop talking about 10,000 social housing homes being delivered this year. That is not true. He should stop talking about 20,000 or 27,000 social housing homes being delivered. The Government's plan is to build 6,545 new social housing homes. He cannot seriously claim that more than 2,000 homes leased from private developers amount to social housing homes. In what world is that social housing? There is no grand conspiracy but, instead, there is a deliberate manipulation of the definition of "social housing" to pretend the Government is planning to do a lot more than it is. That gives the Government much higher targets than the reality of its targets. It also distracts from the fact that the Government is nowhere near its targets. The Government's ideology means it is in favour of incentivising landlords and developers to come into the market. It simply refuses to invest in public housing to deal with the housing crisis. The landlords and the developers the Government represents are getting super rich as a consequence of that. The idea we have ideology and the Government has no ideology is utter nonsense.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy Some €2.4 billion was spent on housing this year. It is the largest amount a Government has ever spent in a single year on housing. That is our commitment to public housing. The Deputy does not understand how the build programme works because, in 2018, the exact same claims were made in quarter 1, quarter 2 and quarter 3 that we would not meet our build targets. By the end of 2018, we were 3% shy of them. We got thereabouts on build targets.

Deputy Paul Murphy: Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy The Government did not meet them.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy We were 3% shy in the context of more than 4,000 homes. The Deputy is claiming today we are nowhere near our targets. I am telling him we are close to them and we will know by the end of the year whether we achieved them. It was the exact same narrative last year and it proved to be untrue. The Deputy can stop telling his untruths, stop spinning and get his ideology out of the way because these are real homes for people coming off the housing lists and that is what matters, not his ideology.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy With the agreement of the House, I am going to allow Deputy Connolly to come back in. She walked in as her question had passed but she is always efficient with her time so I propose we allow her to put her question. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Social and Affordable Housing

 42. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy further to Parliamentary Question No. 49 of 18 September 2019, the agreed work programme for the Galway social housing task force; the reports completed to date by the task force; if the minutes of the meetings held to date will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51819/19]

Deputy Catherine Connolly: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I thank the Acting Chairman and the Deputies for agreeing to allow me back in. I was launching something trí Ghaeilge. Sin an fáth nach raibh mé anseo. This is a specific question on the social housing task force in Galway. I am asking about the work programme to date, the reports that have been completed by the task force and the minutes of the meetings. It is important. The Minister has set up a social housing task force because of the housing emergency in Galway. I want a specific answer to the question. The Minister is always calling for facts so I am asking him to give me the facts.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I thank the Deputy for the question. The Galway social housing task force, which I established earlier this year, has held four meetings to date. It is working to improve and accelerate social housing delivery in both of the Galway local authority areas. Galway County Council and Galway City Council have a combined target of just over 2,000 social housing homes to be delivered through build, acquisitions and leasing in the period from 2018 to 2021. On 2019 delivery, both councils are working hard to achieve their targets of 191 new social housing homes in the city and 259 in the county. Having said that, it should be acknowledged the task force was established precisely because it was recognised the two local authorities required support in advancing their delivery programmes.

The chair of the task force provided an update on its work earlier this year and confirmed both local authorities were intensively involved in the task force's work and it is providing them with an important opportunity for direct, round-table dialogue with my Department, the Housing Agency and the AHB sector, so that each Galway authority can be supported in building the momentum essential for expanded delivery. The chair also advised that achieving the necessary levels of delivery will take focus, time and continuing prioritisation but all participants in the task force are committed to the Government's housing targets.

I expect a further report from the task force chair at the end of this year and I understand the secretariat for the task force, which is provided by Galway City Council, is arranging to have minutes of the meetings made available to local public representatives. I also understand the chief executives of both authorities report to their councils on the work of the task force following each meeting.

Deputy Catherine Connolly: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I thank the Minister for confirming the minutes will be made available, which begs the question why it has to be raised in the Dáil before the minutes are made available. On focus, time and the different criteria he mentioned, we have the most serious housing crisis in Galway, on a par with Dublin. In Galway city, we have 302 homeless people and we have a city council that has achieved only 25% of its build target. HAP is the only show in town in Galway and that is difficult. We have HAP placement officers but we have a lack of staff responsible for providing homes for people on a permanent basis. The State has the land and if it does not, we should know about that by now. My information is the State has land that is zoned for residential use and it has institutional land and this task force has not produced a single report, even though it was set up before April of this year. It has had four meetings, which does not even amount to a meeting once per month. What has been decided? What is the work programme for the task force?

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I thank the Deputy for the follow-up questions. She is correct that Galway needs help and that is why we put the task force in place. Those minutes will be published but the priority has been to get the task force to work on different sites and schemes so we can see delivery.


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