Over the course of 2011 and 2012 my Department focussed almost exclusively on refurbishing vacant properties with the objective of bringing as many as possible of these back into productive use. Over that period some 4,7 00 units were improved at a cost of over €52 million. Some 2,659 units were refurbished in 2011 and a further 2,115 in 2012.
Given the concentration on vacant properties in recent years, and in view of the substantial numbers of vacant properties which were improved, it is timely to focus attention on those occupied and older dwellings which lack adequate insulation and draught-proofing. On 5 June, I announced a new €50 million three-year energy efficiency investment programme for local authority homes. This programme will target the 25,000 least energy efficient properties and result in warmer homes and lower energy bills for thousands of families and will also create around 1,000 jobs in the sector.
Local authorities are responsible for the management and maintenance of their social housing stock and for the preparation and implementation of planned maintenance programmes and pre-letting repairs to vacant properties. In addition to the new insulation measure, my Department supports an energy retrofitting measure for local authority houses and €10 million is being provided for this purpose in 2013. Local authorities may undertake energy retrofitting works in conjunction with pre-letting re pairs with the objective of getting best value for money and ensuring that the existing stock is available to meet housing need.