Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (1948)

Seán Haughey


1948. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the communications between his Department and an approved housing body (details supplied) in respect of the provision of accommodation at a site; if the provision of funding is under consideration for this building under the capital assistance scheme; his views on whether it is appropriate to provide funding under the scheme for the benefit a private company intent on making a profit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35290/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Under the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, 50,000 new social housing homes are to be delivered by 2021, through local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs), using a range of funding streams including the Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS) and the Capital Advance Leasing Facility (CALF).

Market conditions in many cases mean that turnkey arrangements are highly appropriate in terms of delivery timescale and cost. Turnkeys are, in the main, homes built by developers on private land under contract for local authorities or AHBs. They are a good source of social housing that can often be delivered quickly, and often in areas where the local authority does not have land. All local authorities actively consider this source in addition to all other delivery mechanisms. These can be projects that are unbuilt but have planning permission in place, that may be unfinished/partially built/under construction, or largely completed but with ‘finishing out’ works to be done.

All funding provided to AHBs to support this activity is made available by my Department through local authorities. Indeed, local authorities, as the statutory housing authorities, are the decision makers in relation to the suitability of a proposed social housing project. For example, local authorities are required to ensure that any project appropriately reflects the housing need in that particular area and that there is sufficient need in the area to support the units over time; the properties comply with relevant standards and regulatory requirements; and the objectives of creating and maintaining sustainable communities are being met.

In recent years, the main source of funding to AHBs for social housing delivery, including turnkey projects, is through borrowings and support from local authorities through the Capital Advance Leasing Facility (CALF) and Payment and Availability (P&A) programme. The loan (capital advance) is available up to a maximum of 30% of the value of the acquisition or construction of the dwellings and it is repayable at the end of the term which can be up to 30 years. The balance of the investment required is borrowed separately by the AHB, and in the main, from the Housing Finance Agency (HFA). CALF is targeted at projects where the AHBs does not have sufficient financial capacity in the initial years of a loan to service the debt or may require some up-front capital to secure the lending in the first place. AHBs can only avail of this funding if they enter into a P&A agreement with the local authority for the same period, making the relevant properties available for social housing - providing accommodation for people on the relevant local authority’s waiting list, for the same period of time.

Applications for P&A-CALF funding are made to local authorities by AHBs and normally consist of a completed application form and a financial model showing the capital cost, income and operational costs projected over the P&A term sought, and other relevant supporting documentation.

I can confirm that an AHB applied to the relevant local authority for CALF funding to progress a turnkey project at the site referred to. The project has the support of the local authority and has met all of the requirements for funding, in line with Departmental policies and financial assessments. My Department issued formal approval for this project in May 2019.