I thank the Deputy for the question. In the context of social housing provision, my Department has undertaken analysis in respect of the average costs associated with the delivery of a range of differently sized social housing units, both in terms of construction costs and all-in costs. These costs are based on an analysis of returned data from local authorities on social housing schemes and as such it is on actual costs. Nevertheless, information on the average cost of current social housing developments of various sizes is preliminary at this stage and will be better informed when a greater number of projects have completed the tendering stage over the months ahead. My Department has also had an input into work led by the Department of Finance on construction costs which was undertaken under the Construction 2020 strategy.
In general terms, the cost of delivering housing is largely dependent on the type, size and geographic location of the development concerned, the availability of services, access to infrastructure and on the contractual arrangements leading to its construction. Against this background, construction costs can vary greatly throughout the country which gives rise to difficulties in developing more accurate costings for the various house types in the absence of site-specific and evidence-based information. The prevailing economic conditions appear to suggest that without intervention, housing costs, including social housing costs, are more likely to rise rather than fall during 2016. This is due to the fact that, in general, housing supply currently falls significantly short of housing demand and construction input costs are subject to inflationary pressures as the construction industry transitions from under-activity over an extended period to significant growth in all sectors, including residential, commercial and civil construction.
On residential renting, the market has grown significantly in recent years and now accounts for around 20% of total households. In Dublin, rents are back to 2007 peak boom-time levels. While the most recent Residential Tenancies Board rent index shows that in the first quarter of 2016, rents have continued to increase, the rate of growth has slowed in most sectors. It is anticipated that this is the first stage in a welcome stabilisation of the rental market as the measures introduced through the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 begin to take proper effect.
In accordance with the programme for a partnership Government, my Department is preparing an action plan for housing to be finalised in the coming weeks. In that context, one of the issues being considered is the scope to reduce construction overheads in a manner that will support an increased level of housing output into the future. The action plan will also contain a commitment to publish a strategy for the rental sector this autumn, which will chart a path for the future of the sector.