Thursday, 4 November 2004

Questions (59, 60)

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

38 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will provide sufficient funding to acquire, enable and provide 10,000 social housing units in 2005. [27586/04]

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Seán Crowe

Question:

96 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the local authority housing rental stock has declined in the past five years; if the Government is committed to retaining at least the current level of 105,000 units; and if so, the number of units that must be built each year to compensate for the depletion of social housing stock through tenant purchase and other factors. [27384/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 38 and 96 together.

The Government has responded actively to the increased level of social housing need by expanding social and affordable housing output significantly. Spending on housing has increased substantially in recent years, with capital spending in 2004 at four times the 1998 level. The focus of the Government's spending on housing is on responding to the needs of low income groups and those with social and special housing needs through a broad range of targeted initiatives. It is anticipated that through these measures the needs of over 13,000 households will be met in 2004, compared with some 8,500 households in 2000. This includes over 10,000 households assisted through various forms of social rented accommodation, involving new local authority and voluntary and co-operative housing and vacancies arising in existing local authority houses.

The Government is committed to the continued expansion of the social rented housing stock through local authority and voluntary and co-operative housing. The decision to introduce five-year multi-annual capital investment programmes provides an important opportunity to ensure a structured basis for the planning and delivery of all social and affordable housing programmes. Consequently, to maximise the benefits of this multi-annual approach, local authorities have been requested to prepare five-year social and affordable housing action plans for the period 2004 to 2008.

The main objective in developing these action plans is the need to ensure that the investment available for these programmes achieves the desired effect in the long term by tackling real need and breaking cycles of disadvantage and dependency having regard to the funding available under the five-year multi-annual capital envelopes. The Department is currently assessing the draft action plans submitted by the local authorities with a view to finalising them by the end of the year.

The expanded social and affordable housing provision over recent years has had a beneficial impact on the social rented housing stock. Returns from local authorities would indicate that the number of occupied local authority dwellings has increased in recent years. The number of occupied local authority dwellings at end 2003 was in the order of 105,000, compared with over 99,200 at the end of 1998. Having regard to activity on the tenant purchase scheme over the past four years, an average of 1,500 units are required each year to replace units disposed of through the scheme.