I refer the Deputies to my reply to Question No. 4 on today's Order Paper in relation to the assessment of housing needs undertaken by local authorities at the end of March.
The total number of houses completed or acquired by local authorities during 1999 was approximately 3,700. Details will be included in the Annual Housing Statistics Bulletin for 1999 which is due to be published shortly by my Department. Local authorities were notified of their authorised programmes for the coming four years on 25 November. The programme provides for a total of 22,000 houses to be constructed or acquired in the period 2000 to 2003. I expect that authorities will commence the construction of or acquire in excess of 5,500 houses this year and that the level of house completions, including acquisitions, will be in excess of 4,000 units. Figures in relation to the number of starts/completions for the first quarter of 2000 are currently being compiled.
The local authority housing programme is only one of a range of ways in which the needs of households on local authority waiting lists may be met. I am confident that the enhanced multi-annual local authority housing programme, together with the output from the complementary social housing measures and vacancies occurring in the existing stock, will enable the housing needs of 11,000 households to be met this year compared to 9,300 last year. My Department will support and co-operate in every way with local authorities to help them achieve their housing programmes.