Social housing projects funded by my Department, like all publicly-funded construction projects, must comply with the Government’s Capital Works Management Framework (CWMF), the objectives of which are to ensure greater cost certainty, better value for money and financial accountability. While there are nine points of review within the CWMF, my Department has combined these to just four for capital-funded social housing construction projects.
My Department's approvals themselves represent a small minority only of the time taken in advancing a construction project onto site. The approach that is followed means that local authorities forward design proposals and costings to my Department sequentially, as the local authorities advance the projects through their own planning work.
However, it is important that we continuously strive for efficiency in the delivery of social housing. Accordingly a review was undertaken during 2017 of the processes and procedures in place for the approval of such construction projects. As part of this, a joint working group of the County and City Management Association and my Department has agreed an overall target programme of 59 weeks for progressing a typical social housing construction project from initial capital appraisal submission by the local authority (Stage 1), to construction contract award. The group has also produced new guidelines for local authorities on advancing such projects. Revisions have also been made to the single-stage approval process for social housing construction projects under €2m to increase its use, while projects using the framework for rapid delivery housing also avail of a streamlined approval process.
These improvements, in particular the target programme of 59 weeks for progressing typical social housing construction projects, are now being implemented but in respect of previous projects, as seen in the quarterly Social Housing Construction Status Reports now being published (see http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/quarter-3-social-housing-construction-status-report/), the equivalent time for a range of typical projects was from 61 to 70 weeks, averaging at 65 weeks. My Department remains committed to the accelerated delivery of all social housing projects and will work with all local authorities and approved housing bodies to ensure that quality and value for money projects are delivered efficiently and effectively.