Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (49)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

49. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the total expenditure over the past three years on the provision of temporary housing accommodation in lieu of local authority housing; the extent to which an audit has been carried out on a value for money basis on such expenditure as opposed to a one-off strategic capital programme to deal with the housing crisis, thereby dealing with the housing issue directly as opposed to the more expensive route of engaging investors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45182/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness undertakes to resolve both shorter term housing need and longer term structural capacity within the Irish housing market, through a range of blended delivery mechanisms, each tailored to address the complex range of challenges and needs before us.

As set out in the Action Plan, this Government is committed to meeting the housing needs of over 138,000 households. By 2021, the social housing stock in Ireland will have increased by 50,000 homes. This will be achieved using a combination of build, acquisition and leasing programmes. This will further contribute to the ongoing reduction in housing waiting lists.

Spending on the capital housing programme has been increasing significantly year on year under Rebuilding Ireland and this year more than 10,000 new social homes will be delivered through build, acquisition and leasing programmes across the country. Next year this figure will increase to more than 11,000 new social homes.

While this capacity grows, it is imperative that we also support families using current programmes such as HAP and RAS.

The table below outlines the expenditure on current expenditure programmes such as SHCEP, RAS and HAP over the period 2016 – 2018. In 2019, more than €2.4 billion will be expended across both capital and current programmes meeting the housing needs of more than 27,000 households.

2016 Expenditure

2017 Expenditure

2018 Expenditure

€m

€m

€m

SHCEP

54.029

84.051

100.393

RAS

130.998

142.838

143.337

HAP

57.7

152.697

276.604

Total

242.727

379.586

520.334

Over the period 2016-2018, the housing needs of some 90,000 households were supported under current programmes, including the HAP and RAS schemes. If the funding provided for these 90,000 households had been transferred to capital expenditure, to support building or buying homes, it would have secured some 5,500 homes, leaving no resources available to support the other 85,500 households. Looking at it another way, it would take almost €20 billion to provide a new build local authority home for those 90,000 households.

The review of Current and Capital Expenditure on Social Housing Delivery Mechanisms, prepared by the Irish Government Economic & Evaluation Service (IGEES) and published earlier this summer, focussed on an examination of the housing supports provided through capital and current funding mechanisms, the trends and cost developments in housing expenditure and also considered broader issues relevant to overall housing policy development.

In examining the overall blend of housing delivery mechanisms, the review recognised that, in addition to cost factors, there are a range of other factors, which need to be considered in terms of housing delivery, including flexibility and speed of delivery to meet immediate housing need.

Addressing increased social housing need and delivering the greatest number of social housing supports at this time has required the development and implementation of a range of flexible and innovative mechanisms, which take account of available resources and market conditions. Harnessing private investment remains an important element in the overall delivery of social housing, including through supporting local authorities in meeting the needs of households on their waiting lists.

Notwithstanding the cost comparisons set out in the review, it remains the case that it would not be possible to deliver the same number of social housing homes in higher value rental areas exclusively through capital funded build and acquisition programmes. This will continue to be an important consideration in the context of the future availability of capital funding and the resourcing and capacity required to escalate local authority build and acquisition programmes to the level required to meet the current level of social housing need.

Indeed of the 50,000 new social housing homes which will be added through Rebuilding Ireland, 33,500 of these will be built with the remainder acquired. A further 10,000 homes will be leased under long term leasing arrangements.

Clearly, it is important at this time that a blended approach to the delivery of social housing homes is pursued in order to deliver and provide immediate housing supports to those households on local authority waiting lists across the country whilst simultaneously ratcheting up capacity year on year within the housing stock. This approach is supported by the findings of the IGEES review, which supports the need for a blended approach to delivery.

The housing crisis is complex in nature and requires a flexible, innovative response. In each year of Rebuilding Ireland to date outputs have exceeded targets and in doing so we are, step by step, resolving these issues and putting in foundations of a sustainable housing future for this country.

Question No. 50 answered with Question No. 43.