As the Deputy will be aware, the intention when Bord Gáis Energy was sold was that €400 million from the proceeds would be made available to establish an off-balance sheet financial vehicle to provide financing to approved housing bodies, AHBs. This funding, together with additional private funding, would then facilitate the provision of additional housing units by the AHB sector, in support of the Government's social housing strategy.
The Government established a clearing house group to work with the sector with a view to developing a new model that could use the €400 million in this way. Unfortunately, it proved very challenging to find a model that would be capable of using the funding while remaining off-balance sheet in EUROSTAT terms. However, the clearing house group considered that there were aspects of the proposals considered that appeared to offer potential, in terms of the possible development of a new affordable rental initiative. This would seek to provide long-term affordable residential accommodation for low to moderate income worker households in urban areas of high demand.
In response to this outcome, it was decided to convert the commitment from a single lump sum payment to fund the initial capital cost of social housing provision into a commitment to provide €10 million per annum, indexed for inflation, over a much longer period of at least 20 years. This ongoing funding could then be used to fund a pilot scheme for the provision of subsidised housing, thus making the housing available on an affordable basis over a 20-year period.
This additional €10 million in annual funding was allocated to the Vote of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government from 2017. I understand the Department of Housing Planning and Local Government is utilising this funding in supporting additional activity under its housing programmes.