Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Questions (61)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

61. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to ensure that Meath County Council has sufficient funding to meet the housing needs of the county; his views on whether the fact that County Meath is the lowest funded local authority in the country is inhibiting Meath County Council in seriously addressing the local housing demand; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23490/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness is firmly focused on increasing housing supply and supporting those in society with the greatest housing need, particularly those in need of social housing supports. The significant progress being made in these areas is outlined on the Rebuilding Ireland website at www.rebuildingireland.ie.

Overall, the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan will increase the supply of new homes to 25,000 per annum by 2020; deliver an additional 50,000 social housing homes over the period 2016 to 2021; and meet the housing needs of a further 88,000 households through the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Scheme and the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS).

The implementation of Rebuilding Ireland is a key Government priority supported by significant annual investment. For 2019 alone, funding of almost €2.4 billion is being provided for all housing programmes, a 25% increase on the 2018 allocation. This investment will see the housing needs of almost 27,400 households being met, of which 10,000 will be new social housing homes delivered through build, acquisition and long term leasing programmes, with the remaining supports being delivered through HAP and RAS schemes.

Local authorities deliver a wide range of public services, including those in relation to housing. They derive their income to meet the delivery of these services from a variety of sources, including commercial rates, charges for goods and services and funding from Central Government.

Local authorities vary significantly from one another in terms of size, population, public service demands, the scale and timing of particular infrastructural investments and other income sources; funding levels in the past have reflected this variety. Therefore, it is not possible to compare absolute levels of funding received in local authority areas, as to do so would not reflect the significant differences that exist between them. Indeed, it is a matter for each local authority to maximise local income sources and manage its own spending, in the context of the annual budgetary process.

Funding is available to support every local authority in delivering on their social housing targets and my Department will engage with any local authority in a position to deliver beyond its targets. Over the past three years, Meath County Council has received total funding of over €122 million to meet the cost of its housing programmes.

In 2018, the Council delivered 437 social housing homes through build, acquisition and leasing programmes, with an additional 767 households being supported through HAP and RAS, resulting in the needs of over 1,200 households being met across all delivery schemes in 2018. Indeed, over the 2016 to 2018 period, the first three years of Rebuilding Ireland, more than 3,000 households in County Meath have had their housing needs met.

The level of progress being made is reflected in social housing waiting lists, which have reduced by 22% nationally, from 91,600 households to 71,858, between 2016 and 2018. In Meath, the number of households on waiting lists decreased by some 20% in one year alone, falling from 2,453 in 2017 to 1,966 in 2018.

In relation to social housing construction activity, my Department publishes comprehensive status reports, on a quarterly basis, on all social housing construction schemes for all local authority areas. The most recent of these reports covers the period up to the end 2018 and contains information on the progress of over 19,134 new social housing homes nationally progressing through planning, design and construction, as well as homes delivered to end 2018. The report, which is available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-publishes-social-housing-construction-status-report-for-q4-2018/, shows that Meath County Council, together with the Approved Housing Bodies with which it is working, has a social housing construction programme of 68 projects already complete or at planning, design, tender or construction stage, which will deliver 950 homes when complete. This programme continues to be added to on an ongoing basis.