Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (66)

Thomas P. Broughan


66. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he is considering establishing a national or regional social housing planning and construction agency in view of the slow delivery of new homes by the existing 31 local authorities. [44396/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Over the course of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan, the Government is committed to meeting the housing needs of over 138,000 households. The implementation of Rebuilding Ireland is well underway and making significant progress.

Annual delivery targets were exceeded in 2017 and again in 2018. By end Quarter 2 2019, over 84,000 additional social housing homes had already been provided under the plan.

The level of progress being made is reflected in social housing waiting lists, which have reduced by 25% nationally, from 91,600 households to just over 68,000 between 2016 and 2018.

Substantial funding is in place to deliver on the targets set in Rebuilding Ireland. The Housing Budget for 2019 is €2.4 billion rising to €2.63 billion in 2020, representing an increase of €258 million (+11%) compared to 2019.

My Department continues to engage very intensively with all local authorities to keep momentum on new build output as high as possible. When we examine the pipeline for new development, there are reasons to be optimistic in terms of meeting our ambitious delivery plans for 2019 and beyond. The Construction Status Report covering the period to June 2019 shows that there are now over 22,000 homes in the build pipeline, up more than 8% on quarter 1 of this year.

It should be noted that the number of homes on site at the end of June 2019 was 6,439. Given the healthy pipeline and expected delivery profile over the coming two quarters, I am confident that we are on track to meet our targets.

In order to support housing authorities in delivering on their responsibilities and obligations, a number of dedicated structures have been put in place across the country over the last number of years.

A dedicated Housing Delivery Office (HDO) was also established within my Department in September 2017 to support local authorities, approved housing bodies and all stakeholders involved in the delivery of key elements of the ambitious private and social housing targets in the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan. The purpose of this office is to accelerate and monitor housing delivery, both private and social, on key sites, identify further mechanisms to accelerate delivery, and support the roll-out of complex construction projects, including identifying and resolving barriers to delivery.

The Land Development Agency (LDA) was also established in September 2018 with an immediate focus on managing the State’s own lands to develop new homes, and regenerate under-utilised sites. On establishment, the Agency had access to an initial tranche of 8 sites that have near term delivery potential for 3,000 new homes. The overall objective is for the LDA to be involved in the building of 150,000 new homes over the next 20 years.

Extensive consultation has taken place and is ongoing between the Land Development Agency (LDA) and local authorities. The discussions have centred around how the LDA can assist with the formulation of plans to deliver housing, including social and affordable housing, on local authority owned lands. It is also working with Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council in relation to the delivery of housing on the local authority owned site at Shanganagh.

Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) are vital for successful delivery of social housing targets and my Department works closely with these bodies on an ongoing basis to support them in the delivery of their social housing programme. The AHB Service Unit was also established within the Housing Agency to provide a centre of excellence and advice for AHBs. This Unit works with local authorities and AHBs to build their capacity and expertise to meet the scale and complexity associated with the ambitious programme of delivery in the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan.

I believe what is critical at this stage is to ensure that all of the structures already in place are aligned, co-ordinated and co-operating towards a shared vision. This includes my own Department, the Housing Agency and the Housing Finance Agency working with local authorities and approved housing bodies across the country. I am satisfied at this time that appropriate arrangements are in place to deliver much needed social and affordable homes across the country.