The overall aim of the Government's housing policy is to enable every household to have available an affordable dwelling of good quality, suited to its needs, in a good environment and, as far as possible, at the tenure of its choice. In this context, the Government's strategy is to increase housing supply to meet demand and to improve affordability, particularly for first time buyers, and in this way to seek to bring moderation to house price increases.
There is clear evidence that the measures to boost supply, such as the Government's investment in infrastructure, removing planning constraints and the increased residential densities now being achieved as a result of the residential guidelines produced by my Department, have been successful in addressing the strong demand for housing. The year 2003 was the ninth successive year of record house completions, with 68,819 units completed, an increase in output of 19.3% nationally on 2002 and an increase of 10.5% in output in the greater Dublin area during the same period.
The Government is committed to continuing with measures to boost the supply of housing and ensuring that the demand for housing is met in a sustainable manner. It is also concerned to ensure that the broad spectrum of housing needs is met and it remains committed to continuing with measures to assist low income groups and those with social housing needs by means of a range of targeted social and affordable housing programmes. The total housing provision, Exchequer and non-Exchequer, in 2004 of €1.884 billion represents an increase of 5.4% on the 2003 provision. The increase in the housing provision will enable the social and affordable housing needs of over 12,000 households to be met this year compared to almost 8,500 in 1998.