Social housing homes that are upgraded and returned to use with capital funding support from the exchequer via the voids programme are a continuing element of the Rebuilding Ireland programme. Given the level of investment that has been made to date, it would be expected that the scale of the voids programme would reduce over time.
For Rebuilding Ireland statistical reporting purposes, I indicated to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government, that activity under the voids programme in 2018 would only be reflected up to the level of the target for the year, if reached. However, it was also agreed that my Department would continue to provide funding support for the local authorities’ work in returning vacant properties to use, over and above the numbers reflected in Rebuilding Ireland targets. Therefore, while the Rebuilding Ireland delivery statistics show that the voids target of 560 homes for 2018 was met, a significant programme of voids refurbishment beyond the targeted level was also funded. The total number of voids brought back to productive use which were funded by my Department in 2018 was 1,765, which is comparable to the level of activity in 2017.
Looking forward, the management and maintenance of local authority housing stock, including pre-letting repairs to vacant properties, responsive repairs and implementing planned maintenance programmes, will continue to be matters for each individual local authority, in line with Section 58 of the Housing Act 1966. I believe the best way in which improvements can be made in this area is for local authorities to have a common approach to this work, based on established best practice. I am pleased, therefore, that a group representing a number of local authorities is working to identify best practice in relation to housing stock maintenance and repairs, within the structure of the City and County Management Association (CCMA).