Priority Questions

Building Control Management System

Barry Cowen


9. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government if he will introduce a requirement that his Department undertake an annual audit of construction costs as recommended by the housing and homelessness committee; and his views on whether the current system of building control is appropriate and provides for safe and cost-effective oversight of building during design and construction. [28798/16]

The Minister has acknowledged that the problem with the housing situation is the lack of supply. Key to holding back supply is the cost of building. The special housing committee acknowledged this during the course of its deliberations. All known stakeholders in and experts on this area have also acknowledged it. Yet, remarkably, there is no specific Government research on construction costs. Nor is there a mention of addressing this issue in the plan. Like many others, I could talk all day about how the development levies of local authorities, the VAT content and the certification costs in terms of building regulations are impediments in this regard, but we need recommendations that are independent and can be backed up. We should not be depending on the industry to provide that information. Will the Minister of State consider committing to doing what we are asking?

As the Deputy rightly signalled, the issue of cost in the deliver and supply of housing is of grave concern to us all. There are numerous commitments and a broad range of measures to tackle the cost of same and to make it easier to increase supply. Some 84 actions are set out in the action plan. Most aim to increase activity and supply while making housing more affordable. There have already been changes to Part 8 requirements, levy requirements and many other aspects. These enable the more affordable construction of housing, the opening up of sites and easier delivery. Under one of the actions, we are considering paying upfront for Part V housing in recognition of the fact that raising money is difficult.

Recommendation No. 6 of the Committee on Housing and Homelessness calls for a detailed audit every year. We have not committed in the action plan to having that audit every year. Rather, we have committed to a detailed analysis, as a follow-up to the recent National Competitiveness Council research on this matter and in conjunction with the construction sector, in order to benchmark housing delivery input costs in Ireland. The intention is to publish the findings with a view to identifying economies. Our Department has started preliminary work on analysing costs as well as on the various reports and international studies that, for example, compare costs in Ireland with those in the UK and the rest of Europe. We will have ongoing consultation with the stakeholders in the sector in the months ahead to determine how, if possible, to affect costs.

The Deputy mentioned increased regulatory costs, but these have been disputed. Figures of €20,000 and €30,000 have been cited. I urge the committee to analyse these. In our work, we have met many of those involved in regulation and certification roles. It does not have to cost €20,000 or €30,000. It accounts for much less than 2% of the build cost, putting it at lower than €3,000 or €4,000. In some cases, it is much cheaper. I have met people involved in the business who can do a good job providing the service for €1,000 per unit.

While increasing housing supply, we must not neglect quality. We have all dealt with issues concerning low standards and a lack of quality in our areas in recent years. A developer might claim that it cost more to reach the quality mark in the past, but the administration and certification under the regulations do not cost €20,000 or €30,000, so it is wrong to keep saying that it does.

As to the committee's recommendation, we are doing that, only not in the exact way that the committee wanted us to. We have started that work because it is an important part.

I thank the Minister of State for his response. I do not agree with his assertion that ongoing consultation with the sector regarding the costs associated with building and the provision of housing is adequate in the space in which we find ourselves, particularly in light of the fact that supply is key to addressing this issue. It is remarkable that there is no State-sponsored reporting. We are in an emergency and I earnestly ask the Minister of State and the Minister to reconsider this and ask the Housing Finance Agency, HFA, to publish quarterly reports so that, if this is a myth - it is not - it can be put to bed.

The Minister of State mentioned the various options concerning levies. The Minister made a commitment to me in recent months that he would consider asking his Department to pass judgment and examine the certification methods that exist in the UK.

They have a €1,200 certification cost. I am not saying all of these are €20,000 or €30,000 but they are much more than €1,200. Where this element has been identified as a barrier, in addition to VAT and other costs, it is incumbent on us to address it. I ask the House Finance Agency to bring quarterly reports. The Minister has previously committed to examining the certification issue and to come back to the House.

We are probably achieving the same thing. Our Department is analysing this cost and has done much preliminary work over the past couple of months. It will now engage with the various sectors to progress that analysis and see how we can affect these costs. There are numerous reports out there already. The report from 2015 compares costs in other countries and it is worthy of studying. We are using that as part of our analysis as well. There may be a difference in labour costs but with many other costs, we are approximately the same and come in at a cost level less than many countries in Europe in terms of construction costs.

We recognise the overall cost of a house is too high and we are trying to bring down that cost where possible and there is genuine space to do so. The Deputy is quoting a UK model in saying certification costs €1,200 there but I have engaged with companies that can do it for even less. It does not have to cost €5,000, €6,000, €10,000 or €20,000 for certification costs or to monitor regulations. The Deputy, the committee Chairman and members of the committee are here and the committee could feed into the work of the Department by analysing this and engaging with the people involved with certification so we can see what are the costs. We should examine the use of technology as I am not convinced that some of the certifiers with large bills are availing of modern technology to help with the certification.

If we do not respect the clock, some Members will not be able to get questions answered today.

I remind the Minister of State that the special housing committee considered this. After the election it met and made recommendations to the Minister that fed into his Rebuilding Ireland programme. We welcome the commitment he made to produce that plan and I look forward to various legislation emanating from the plan so we can debate, analyse, scrutinise and, I hope, amend legislation in order to bring forward better legislation for the House. This relates to one of the key recommendations and there is no need for the committee to meet again to formulate the same recommendation. I ask the Department to analyse the system in the UK and the North of Ireland to see if it can be used here, at least on a pilot basis in various counties.

I am not saying the committee should meet again to formulate new recommendations. I am saying if the Deputy really believes in this, it would be worth the committee's time to analyse the certification costs, as those figures are being thrown out there. I am not convinced they are reasonable costs. The Department is examining the costs and we will publish the findings. That is not an issue. The committee, as a public forum, could thrash out the costs of certification and regulation. It would be a worthwhile exercise.

The specific request was that there be an annual audit and we are not committing to that yet in our action plan for housing. We are analysing the cost. We are doing the same work but we are not committing to doing it annually, as was recommended in the report. In fairness, the Minister, Deputy Coveney, has stated on numerous occasions that we recognise the value of the work done in that committee. Many of the recommendations feature strongly in the Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness. We want to continue working in that partnership together. Additionally, the committee could be a useful forum for analysing some of those costs in that area. There is a great disparity in the figures and they should be examined further. We will do it and I recommend the committee does the same.

Local Authority Housing Provision

Eoin Ó Broin


10. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government if he will review the decision to discontinue with the ministerial directive that instructed local authorities to allocate 50% of social housing to homeless and other vulnerable households on the grounds that the research report on which the decision was taken is fundamentally flawed. [28800/16]

Will the Minister review the decision to discontinue the ministerial directive instructing local authorities to allocate 50% of social housing to homelessness and other vulnerable groups on the grounds that the research by the Housing Agency on which this decision was formulated is fundamentally flawed?

I thank Deputy Ellis for taking the questions for Deputy Ó Broin, who for whatever reason is unable to be here. That is fine.

In January 2015, a ministerial direction was put in place that required the Dublin region housing authorities to allocate at least 50% of tenancies under their control to homeless and other vulnerable households, with the authorities in counties Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford being required to allocate at least 30% to such households. The direction was subsequently renewed on two occasions, with the last renewal expiring on 30 April 2016. At the time of the last renewal in February 2016, the Housing Agency was requested to conduct a review of the operation of the direction and provide an impartial assessment. The agency recommended that the direction should be allowed to lapse upon its expiry date.

This direction was only ever intended to operate for a short period to provide an immediate increase in the number of social housing tenancies being allocated to homeless households. In the normal course, local authorities and their elected members are best placed to determine the allocation of social housing for their areas in line with national policy. Among the agency’s findings was that the well-established allocation procedures of housing authorities are capable of responding to particular housing need without an ongoing ministerial direction. This analysis is vindicated by the fact that in the first six months of this year, local authorities nationally have assisted more than 1,350 sustainable exits from homelessness into independent tenancies, with almost half of these going into social housing tenancies. By the end of this year, there will be more tenancies provided for people and families who have been homeless than in any year in the past. That this direction has lapsed does not mean we are not prioritising and getting better results for families that are homeless.

Taking account of the Housing Agency's report, my predecessor decided not to renew the direction after 30 April 2016. I do not propose to revisit the issue as I do not intend to renew the terms of this direction. I am confident the comprehensive range of actions and initiatives under way to increase housing supply generally, as set out in Rebuilding Ireland: An Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, will enable local authorities to maintain or exceed the level of housing allocations to homeless households and other vulnerable groups achieved under the ministerial direction. All the evidence suggests that is happening.

The Minister stated that last April the Housing Agency made the recommendation to discontinue this directive. I find that hard to believe when we are in the midst of an emergency. In one week in August this year, 6,611 people were homeless. The issue has continued even in spite of the decision and people still report as homeless. The problem will get worse. There are more than 1,200 children in emergency accommodation and the last count of those who sleep rough was up as well. What is the decision based on? I cannot understand how we are allowing this when there is a crisis because of so many homeless people. Why have we discontinued the direction to allow 50% of allocations go to those who are homeless? I understand that we do not want to go down that road indefinitely but we must do something by continuing the direction.

I agree with all the sentiments. We must do something significant and we are doing so. Tomorrow we will announce how we will spend €5.35 billion on a social housing programme that will add 30% to existing social housing stock nationally in the next five years. It is why we have a raft of measures to bring vacant properties back into use and we have tripled the ambition of the rapid build programme initiated by the last Government. It is why, this year, we will have significantly more homeless families and individuals housed in sustainable tenancies than last year, despite the directive being in force at that time.

There is no lack of priority or ambition in responding to what the Deputy directly describe as a crisis. I am working night and day on that, as are many other people. Before answering these questions I had a meeting with the Dublin Region Homeless Executive to make sure we are on schedule with the targets we are setting for ourselves. I am asking whether having a 50% requirement on local authorities in Dublin adds to what we are trying to achieve, as opposed to allowing those authorities to judge the percentages for themselves. We will probably go beyond that prescribed percentage in certain months. It is too blunt a tool and all the evidence suggests the new approach is working better.

I disagree that it is too blunt a tool. There were signs that it was starting to work but the reality is that the numbers are still well up. The Minister is rolling out his programme tomorrow and I wish him all the best with it, but we had the same problem when the last Government was in office. It also rolled out a programme worth €3.3 billion but we are actually in a worse position now. I am not saying that the same will happen this time because I believe the Minister is very sincere but the evidence so far indicates that the figures do not add up in terms of what we are building. We are relying too much on the private sector and that is the big problem. Unless local authorities start building and delivering social housing, we will be in the same position in another year or two. That is the problem we are facing.

I do not disagree with much of what Deputy Ellis has said and that is why we are ramping up new-build social housing delivery through the local authorities. Last year, as the Taoiseach mentioned earlier, only 74 or 75 local authority houses were built across the whole country. Other local authority housing units were made available through voids being brought back into use and through acquisitions but in terms of new builds, there were only about 75 units. In contrast, by the end of this year there will be 1,500 units under construction-----

Will they all be local authority units?

It will be a combination of local authority and approved housing body, AHB, units, with around 1,200 being built by the local authorities. We are ramping up and by the middle of next year that figure will be significantly increased. However, we must recognise the realities in the meantime. We have to get families who are currently in totally unsuitable accommodation and people who are in danger of rough sleeping who are in emergency accommodation into sustainable tenancies where possible. Over time, we will dramatically increase the number of social houses that are available to house people but in the meantime we must rely on the housing assistance payment, HAP, the rental accommodation scheme, RAS, and other forms of supported tenancies. Most of the HAP tenancies, by the way, are long term, ranging from five to 20 years, so in that sense they can provide good, sustainable solutions for families.

Local Authority Staff

Barry Cowen


11. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the additional funding and staffing allocations his Department is making to local authorities and planning authorities to increase social housing output and quality planning outputs in the context of the new targets under the action plan for housing; his views on whether housing and planning units in local authorities are adequately resourced and staffed. [28799/16]

The last Government failed drastically to address the housing situation. It made huge commitments in terms of enabling local authorities to build houses but, as the Minister has just said, they only built 75 last year. What resources is the Minister now making available to local authorities to enable them to build 1,200 units this year, let alone the increased numbers for subsequent years referred to by the Minister? How can I, my constituents and Members of this House be confident that progress will be made, considering the failures in recent years?

Since the publication of Rebuilding Ireland: Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, the focus has been very much on implementation and driving an acceleration in housing delivery. To this end, I have visited a number of local authorities and have met all the chief executives. I have assured them that they will have the necessary support and resources to deliver on Rebuilding Ireland.

In terms of staffing associated with the delivery of housing, local authorities have been rebuilding their resource base for some time now. Since January 2015, my Department has received 518 staffing requests, of which 502 have been approved, with the remaining 16 pending awaiting further information. These posts are varied and include planners, technicians, surveyors, engineers, project managers, housing welfare officers, building inspectors, clerks of works and administrative staff. Arrangements are in place under which certain staffing costs associated with the roll-out of the social housing capital programme can be recouped as part of project costs, providing an important support for local authorities.

In terms of funding, the social housing element of Rebuilding Ireland proposes a significantly increased level of ambition, aiming for the delivery of 47,000 social housing units through new builds, refurbishment, acquisitions and leasing over the 2016 to 2021 period, supported by Exchequer investment of some €5.35 billion. A further €200 million is being provided for the local infrastructure housing activation fund which, as the Deputy knows, is being competed for at the moment.

In addition, Rebuilding Ireland will deliver innovations to improve, support and accelerate delivery at local authority level. These include building on streamlining and efficiencies already introduced for the social housing approval process, streamlining the Part 8 planning process for local authority development and time limited changes to the planning process for housing more generally, with large scale projects of 100 units or more being submitted directly to An Bord Pleanála for decision following a statutory pre-planning consultation period at local authority level.

I thank the Minister for his reply. I have a number of supplementary questions and would like specific answers, if at all possible.

Have the local authorities specifically requested extra staff as part of the resources needed to meet the demands being placed upon them? Is there a staff resourcing issue that needs to be addressed? Have the local authorities identified it and made specific requests of the Department? When will the Department respond and can the local authorities be assured that their requests will be met?

The Minister referred to the housing activation fund of €200 million, for which the local authorities must compete, to provide necessary infrastructure. I ask him to confirm that it amounts to €50 million over four years. Is there conditionality associated with that fund? Many developers and local authorities have told me that the conditions associated with the fund render it unviable into the future. While the announcement of €200 million sounds good, when one drills down, one finds that it is over a four year period. The conditionality means that it may not even be spent. It is like the urban renewal scheme in that regard. Councillors have told me that it could be up to 18 months before the funding that is needed today becomes available. It is good from the perspective of the Minister and the Department because they may not have to spend what they say they are spending.

The Deputy asked about extra staff. I have spoken to many CEOs and some of them have said that they need to bump up their staffing levels. Others had already asked my predecessor for additional staffing and had received approval. More than 500 approvals for extra staffing have been granted, mostly in the housing and housing-related areas. I have made it very clear to the chief executives of local authorities that if they have a staffing shortage that is causing a significant problem in terms of housing delivery, I need to know about it. I will then try to solve it. The local authorities can talk to the housing delivery unit in my Department if there are problems or they can come to me directly.

The infrastructure fund comprises €150 million from the State and €50 million from the local authorities, over three rather than four years. If it is front-loaded, so be it. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is open to that, potentially. That said, some infrastructure projects will undoubtedly take time to deliver. When one is talking about bridges, extra lanes in roads and so forth, permissions are required and processes must be gone through. However, work on building sites can start once developers know that the infrastructure is on the way, whether by next year or the year after. That is the whole purpose here, to try to get sites moving.

I must ask the Minister and Deputies to keep to the clock. I want to be fair to everyone and to make sure all Deputies get a chance to put their questions. No one question takes precedence over another so I ask all speakers to adhere to the clock.

I ask the Minister to consider strongly reverting to the old serviced land scheme that used to be in place under which councils could recoup funding spent on providing infrastructure through local levies. I also ask the Minister to front-load much of the available funding because, in the long run, it is cost-neutral and is badly needed at this time.

Councils can, of course, add levies to development charges to get certain things done. That has been one of the big problems to date. Many developers have said to me, and I am sure to Deputy Cowen, that they simply could not make the numbers add up if they had to fund a bridge, a road or a new water connection, for example, to a site that may or may not be serviced. The whole point of the State intervening here is to try to pick up some of that tab in order to make a business case for a site to be opened and for houses to be built. That is the whole point of it but the option is still there for local authorities to recoup some of the cost of providing infrastructure through a levy system. There are many examples of where that will happen.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Richard Boyd Barrett


12. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government if his plans for mixed-tenure social and affordable developments on publicly-owned land, outlined in Rebuilding Ireland, will effectively mean the privatisation of publicly-owned land; his understanding of what constitutes affordable rental and the way in which this differs from the current local authority housing model, or the HAP and RAS schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28730/16]

I am seeking to ascertain why the Minister, who says he is committed to delivering social housing to deal with the housing emergency, is proposing to give away two thirds of public land - I refer to land on which 100% council housing would previously have been developed - for private housing that is called affordable rental or affordable. If I understand this correctly, two thirds of any publicly-owned site will be developed by the private sector and will not be used for council housing. I will refer to some individual sites when I ask my supplementary questions. If we need to get large quantities of council housing quickly, why are we proposing to privatise two thirds of publicly owned sites?

We are not prescribing that. We are saying we will look at sites on a case-by-case basis. We are asking councils to be ambitious and to use publicly-owned landbanks much more strategically than they have perhaps been used in the past. We want to promote a different way of developing social housing and the communities served by such housing. We want to integrate private housing with social housing in a much more progressive way. For all of those reasons, we are asking local authorities to submit proposals for the strategic use of publicly-owned landbanks. We want them to create partnerships with the private sector to build some private housing, some social housing and some affordable housing, depending on what kind of mix is appropriate for the local area. People are using ratios that have been politically agreed by a number of parties. In the case of O'Devaney Gardens, for example, there is a mix of 50% private housing, 20% affordable rental and 30% social housing. That is not necessarily the percentage that will apply to every publicly-owned landbank. Sometimes it will make sense to have 100% social housing and sometimes it will make sense to do a deal with a developer to have a 50-50 spilt. Different percentages will be appropriate, depending on what is needed and the area it is in. The core issue here is that we need to get better value out of our publicly-owned land. This is not some giveaway to the private sector. It is about using the leverage we have in terms in public landbanks, either to get cash back from the private sector or to get the private sector to pay for social housing programmes that we might not otherwise be able to afford to develop as quickly, while at the same time availing of the private sector's know-how in terms of design. If we can develop communities that are of a higher quality, are more integrated and have more diversity within them, we will ultimately build healthier communities that involve an awful lot of social housing. For me, all of that is positive. I do not approach this from some sort of ideological position, where all State land must accommodate State housing only. I think that would be a flawed approach. It is not the approach we are taking.

I beg to differ. I think it is precisely ideological. I will give the Minister an example. The site of the former prison at Shanganagh Castle in Shankill is owned by the council. Some 550 units can be built there. In the past, 550 council houses would have been built there. As a result of the Minister's proposals, some 180 council houses will be built and the other houses will be designated as affordable housing and affordable rental, whatever they are. It is clear that it is a public-private partnership. I understand that the same thing has happened at Oscar Traynor Road in Coolock. It is happening all over the place. At the same time that a site where 550 council units would once have been built is being developed in a way that will give us just 180 council units, the NAMA development at the former Dún Laoghaire Golf Club site, which would have given us 320 social units if the 20% rule had been in play, is giving us just 160 social units as a result of the Minister's decision to reduce the 20% requirement to 10%. The private developers are gaining everywhere. They are gaining on the private developments and they are now gaining on public land. People on the list are asking why 550 units were not provided, instead of 180, which is what they are going to get under the Minister's plan.

Many people are looking for housing. The Deputy mentioned people on the list, but there are many people who are looking to try to buy their own homes. We have to try to cater for everybody and not just for one segment, which seems to be the only segment the Deputy represents. My job is to get more houses built for everybody, including people on social housing lists, people who are homeless, young couples who want to buy their own homes and people who want to get into secure rental accommodation. That is a broad mix. This is not about solving one problem. If we solve one problem without solving the others, we create more and more pressure, which drives more people onto housing lists. I will explain what we are trying to do here. First of all, these are decisions for local authorities to make. The proposals come from the local authorities first and foremost. We have given a commitment to increase the number of social houses nationally by 47,000 in five years. We do not want all of them to be concentrated into social housing-only estates. The Deputy wants large estates of 500 or 600 social houses with nothing else, but I do not think that is the way to develop diverse communities in which issues like social disadvantage and opportunity can be addressed for people. We will have multiple sites with lots of social housing delivery. They will be integrated sites with private sector and affordable housing delivery. I think that is the right way to do it. I commend the council on that.

Two major sites are being developed in my local area at the moment. In the case of a development of 1,800 houses, there will be just 180 social houses as a result of the Minister's 10% rule. There is private housing. I want people who want private housing to get private housing.

I am glad to hear it.

We are getting just 10% for social housing. The balance could be redressed at the next big site, which is publicly-owned, so that we get more social housing, but that is not going to happen. We could have got 550 council houses at that site, but instead we are going to get 180. If there are 180 council houses at one site and 180 council houses at the other site, that means there will be 360-----

They were never full social houses-----

I ask the Deputy not to intervene. Some 2,000 private houses are being developed at these sites. The proportion of social housing is falling all the time.

The Minister is going to accelerate that by allowing two thirds of public land to be handed over. When he says this is a matter for the local authorities, is he telling me that my local authority can choose for all of those units to be social housing? Under the public private partnerships, will the actual title to the land be handed over to the private developers in the case of the so-called affordable rental or affordable housing? I want to know whether it is going to be privatised.

It is important to correct the record. The Deputy suggested that Part V required 20% social housing, rather than 10% social housing. It was not 20% social housing; it was 10% social housing and 10% affordable housing. The Deputy does not seem to care about affordable housing one way or the other because he does not consider it to be social housing. The first thing he should do is get his facts right. The various local authorities have to make proposals to us to get funding for social housing. In our housing strategy, we have a policy position around mixed tenure developments because we believe that is the right way forward. I think most people in this House see it as the right way forward, given the lessons of the past.

It means people on the list will be waiting longer.

That is not how Deputy Boyd Barrett sees it, however. We will have many developments progressing at the same time. It seems that the Deputy would prefer small numbers of large-scale social housing developments on big sites creating large mono-tenure developments. I do not think that is how we should be developing the communities of the future. We will continue to take proactive steps to increase social housing numbers dramatically. We want to do it in a much more integrated way than it was done in the past.

Local Authority Housing Funding

Joan Collins


13. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the required funding for the provision of local authority housing in the Dublin City Council administrative area with reference to the Rebuilding Ireland action plan, which acknowledges the extent of the homelessness and housing crisis in Dublin city; the source of funding available to the council by way of grants and/or capital loans and the amounts envisaged over the course of the plan; and the grants and capital loans the council has received to date. [28731/16]

This is a sort of follow-on from the previous questions. It is no accident that every question we have had to date has been on housing.

It is a big issue.

Yes, it is one of the biggest issues we are facing in this country. I think it should be registered here that it is an emergency rather than a crisis. My question relates to the funding and grant levels being allocated to Dublin City Council through the Rebuilding Ireland action plan. How much money has been allocated to date? How much money does the Minister envisage will be allocated in the future? I will come back in on a few points after the Minister's reply.

I agree that this is the big issue for me to deal with. It is great that we are talking about these issues, rather than water. While water is a difficult political issue to deal with in some ways, as far as I am concerned, housing is where it is at in terms of changing people's lives. That is why I welcome the fact that housing has been the dominant issue in these questions. All local authorities, including Dublin City Council, already have social housing delivery targets set out to the end of 2017. The former Minister, Deputy Kelly, put that in place. It was a very ambitious plan at the time and we are building on it now. The targets in question were issued to my Department in April of last year and are available on my Department's website.

In the case of Dublin City Council, the target is 3,347 additional units to be delivered through build, buying, refurbishment and leasing programmes, supported by an allocation of almost €300 million. Funding is recouped to the local authority once approved expenditure on programmes takes place. The council submits recoupment claims on an ongoing basis.

With the publication of Rebuilding Ireland: an Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, the Government has secured additional funding for social housing delivery and has set increased national-level targets. Accordingly, increased targets and funding will be allocated to all local authorities. It is important that these are based on the 2016 summary of social housing assessments, and this part of the plan will be done before the end of the year. These assessments are now well advanced and will provide updated figures of national and local housing need. The use of the latest social housing assessments will ensure that new social housing targets and funding are designed in line with housing need. I expect to be advising local authorities of their new targets early in 2017. In the meantime, my Department continues to engage with all local authorities, including Dublin City Council, to expedite social housing delivery, including additional projects that would take local authorities beyond their 2015 targets.

The funding that will be provided to Dublin City Council to support its delivery of social housing will be commensurate with the target set and drawn from the range of sources and programmes set out in pillar two of Rebuilding Ireland, including capital and current funding programmes.

According to the September report of the housing committee in Dublin City Council, 314 houses have been completed to date, including housing body units. Given that 23,000 people are on the housing waiting list and given the crisis relating to homeless families, Dublin City Council will need far more funding.

This goes back to the question earlier relating to O'Devaney Gardens. A motion was put through the council to ensure that all houses built in O'Devaney Gardens would either be social housing or units offered to people who had applied for mortgages. That is the way to go. If we add the private element to the plan, there is no provision in the system to ensure these units will be owner-occupied. Most would probably go out to private rent from landlords, investors and so on. There is no guarantee that it will be a good mix. Most units will be rented or social housing. There is a need to match the numbers on the list to the amount of houses built. To my mind, this will not be done by giving developers the opportunity to make vast amounts of money on these sites, which are public lands.

Obviously Dublin City Council faces more pressures than any other council in terms of numbers. Dublin City Council also has higher targets than anyone else and it has more money available as a result. I am glad to say that Dublin City Council is actually well ahead of target and of where it is supposed to be by the end of next year. In fact, the council is already nearly there through a series of building, buying, refurbishment and leasing programmes and so on. Of course we will have to review the council's targets and the budgets that go with those targets.

We do not have the detailed picture of what will be proposed for O'Devaney Gardens yet. All we have is an agreement in principle to a split of private, affordable and social housing. We want a competitive process to come up with the best plan with these guidelines in place as well as the other guidelines Dublin City Council is seeking to put in place in order that we get a proposal councillors can then vote on and pass. If they vote on it and pass it, we will look to fund it.

Is the target for Dublin City Council to have 23,000 houses built over the next five years? The Minister referred to Dublin City Council meeting its targets. What are the council's targets for this year? A total of 314 units have been completed and 23,000 families are on the waiting list. Are we saying the targets are going to be met depending on the need? I am not hearing that. The reason for so much suspicion is because the last Government did not deliver. We are hoping that the Minister will deliver better on these issues. If the figure is 23,000, are we saying that in five years' time we are going to build or buy to ensure those 23,000 families will be housed?

This year, approximately 17,000 tenancies will be put in place for people looking for secure accommodation. This will come from a broad range of measures, including new build, leasing, the rental accommodation scheme, increased numbers on housing assistant payment scheme and so on. The target for Dublin City Council at the moment is to deliver 3,347 additional units through build, buy, refurbishment and leasing programmes by the end of next year. The council is making great progress on that. The challenge for the council is that it has vast numbers of people who are homeless and on housing lists who are demanding more. By early next year we will have a clearer picture of the appropriate target for Dublin City Council. Then, we will look to see how we can accommodate that from a funding point of view. The overall plan, set out in the Rebuilding Ireland document, is to deliver an extra 47,000 social housing units by the end of 2021.