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NAMA Social Housing Provision

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 18 May 2016

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Questions (7)

Michael McGrath


7. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if the National Asset Management Agency is on track to deliver on its commitment to provide 20,000 housing units; if it plans to revise the proportion which will be delivered as social housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10515/16]

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Oral answers (5 contributions) (Question to Finance)

As the Deputy will be aware, the NAMA chairman and CEO appeared at the Oireachtas Committee on Housing and Homelessness on Thursday, 12 May. NAMA provided a presentation for the committee which outlined, among other useful information, the progress on its residential funding programme. The presentation is available on the Oireachtas and NAMA websites. Specifically, NAMA's key residential delivery figures are as follows: 2,768 units have been completed since early 2014; I am advised that, of the 20,000 units NAMA plans to fund by 2020, subject to commercial viability, 2,500 have been scheduled for delivery in the period from October 2015, when the target was announced, to the end of 2016 - intensive planning and other preparatory work under way will result in a significant increase in the number of completed units in 2017 and later years; at present, 3,096 units are under construction; planning permission has been granted for a further 5,176 units, while a planning application has been lodged for a further 5,066 units; and planning applications are expected to be lodged within the next year for an additional 6,627 units.

Therefore, it is clear that NAMA has a strong residential development pipeline of sites securing its loans. It has an active strategy for every acre of land under its control and I expect the agency to continue to progress towards its publicly stated target of delivering 20,000 units by the end of 2020 through working with key stakeholders to advance such sites through the planning and development phases. I note that the NAMA chairman stated at the Committee on Housing and Homelessness that the plan to deliver 20,000 new units was ambitious and challenging, but NAMA will carry it out in a manner consistent with its mandate. It is clear that the progress highlighted to date and the viable pipeline for future delivery justify NAMA's confidence in this regard.

I thank the Minister for Finance for his comprehensive reply to the question tabled by Deputy Michael McGrath. I have been asked by the Deputy to ask the Minister whether he plans to revise the proportion that will be delivered as social housing. As the Minister knows from the debate last night and all the debates taking place, many more people will find themselves in trouble with mortgages. Therefore, there will be a greater need for social housing throughout the country. It would be appropriate, as a consequence, to revise upwards the proportion delivered as social housing. Is it the intention of the Minister to do so considering the current crisis and the crisis we will face in the future? All the indications are that more evictions will, unfortunately, take place in the coming year. That is something we all need to avoid.

I thank the Deputy for his supplementary question. It is not a matter for NAMA to determine the proportion of social housing that will be provided. The allocation of social housing units per development is prescribed by Part V of the Planning and Development Act at 10% of on-site units. As the Deputy will be aware, NAMA's commitment to funding residential development is not one to build or fund social housing units. In line with NAMA's mandate, under section 10 of the NAMA Act, it is an intention to fund the delivery of private residential units on lands securing NAMA debtor loans on a commercial basis in order to maximise NAMA's recovery on these loans. NAMA borrowers developing these sites will, of course, fulfil their Part V obligations to deliver 10% of residential units in the form of on-site social housing units. Given that the ultimate intention is to deliver 20,000 units, the corresponding 2,000 social units will be significant. These matters are being reviewed by the Committee on Housing and Homelessness. If it recommends a higher quota for private developments, a percentage higher than 10%, it will then be a matter for the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government who is responsible for housing to change the Planning and Development Act, including Part V. If he does, NAMA will comply.

That is welcome, but I believe we genuinely need to increase the percentage. I accept that we must await the recommendations of the housing committee but, judging by what we know will happen, it is extremely important that the proportion of social housing be increased. That is why Deputy Michael McGrath asked me to ask the Minister whether it was the intention of NAMA to increase it.

It is not the intention to increase it because NAMA does not have discretion to do so. It is involved in the promotion of private housing developments. It is committed to providing 20,000 units and will comply with Part V of the Planning and Development Act in order that 2,000 of the 20,000 units will be social units. If the law changes, it will comply with the new percentage, whether it increases or decreases.