Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions

Water Services

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

20. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when a referendum will be held regarding the State affording constitutional protection to the supply of water services; the status of preparations to hold a referendum in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8531/19]

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Future Funding of Domestic Water Services in April 2017 recommended that a referendum on public ownership of Irish Water should be held. That is a recommendation that I and my party support. I want to know when the Government intends to hold a referendum regarding the State affording constitutional protection to the supply of water services. I note that, in November last, the Cabinet gave the Minister approval to do so. I would be obliged if the Minister could provide an update.

The Government is firmly committed to public water services remaining in public ownership, as reflected in the Water Services Acts and in the Water Services Policy Statement 2018-2025. There is widespread support for this view, and the report of the Joint Committee on Future Funding of Domestic Water Services in April 2017 supported the concept of a referendum. The committee recommended that the wording be carefully scrutinised so as not to impact upon the status of group water schemes and individual domestic water supplies.

Provisions in respect of the holding of a referendum are contained in the Private Members' Bill initiated by Deputy Joan Collins currently on Committee Stage in the Dáil. Detailed examination of the wording of this Bill, which I have undertaken in consultation with the Attorney General, indicates that it would give rise to unacceptable risks. I have articulated these concerns in my engagement with the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government. The Office of the Parliamentary Legal Advisor has separately and independently advised the committee on the Bill.

I have sought to bring forward amendments to the Bill and on 11 November last, I received Government approval for the priority drafting of proposed amendments to the Bill. These focus on retaining the entity charged with the provision of public water services in public ownership. I have written to the chairperson of the committee on this matter as recently as 21 January of this year and will continue to keep the committee updated on progress made on the drafting of the proposed amendments.

The Minister mentioned Deputy Joan Collins's Bill, which is on Committee Stage. I have discussed this with Deputy Joan Collins and indeed other colleagues from the Opposition side, including Deputy Ó Broin.

I refer to the proposed amendments which the Minister sought to have drafted on, as he mentioned, 11 November last. How many amendments is the Minister looking to make to that Bill? I have heard of 20 or 21 different potential changes to the Bill. I note the Minister mentioned that careful consideration needs to be given to group water schemes. We understand that these matters are not dealt with easily but what I am trying to get a handle on is timeframe. There was an expectation, more importantly, among the public that we would be able to hold a referendum this year in line with the local and European elections. I am certain that there is a desire for the people to retain the ownership of water as a resource in Ireland. Could the Minister give me a timeframe that he is aiming for on this and also the level of engagement he has had with the Attorney General? Does the Minister expect to be going back to the Attorney General's office in advance of bringing forward further amendments? I would like to get a handle on the timeframe.

The Government is committed to public water services remaining in public ownership. There is no doubt about that. I accept people might be frustrated with the time that this is taking but there are risks here, as the Deputy has identified. There are risks to private wells, risks to group water schemes and risks to the operation of Irish Water itself.

For a number of months, I have been trying to get agreement around a proposed wording. In March of last year, I met a number of Deputies and I spoke about and gave documentation on the 14 tests that any wording would have to pass so that those risks would be mitigated against and there would not be any unintended consequences. From March until November, no one else was able to come up with wording that would pass those 14 tests. In the end, the Department officials came up with wording and that is what I got agreement to bring to the Attorney General at the Cabinet meeting in November.

From memory, there are probably four sections that we are looking at in terms of amendments to address the unintended consequences that we think are in the Bill. It is not the fault of the Bill. It is a good attempt. Obviously, because of the unintended consequences and the risks, we had to make sure these risks were covered.

I think we will be looking at four sections. I am in the hands of the Office of the Attorney General regarding getting the wording right and having it ready for a future referendum. It was certainly not believed there was enough time to finalise the wording, have a proper and full debate on the issues and then hold a referendum in May. We want all sides in the House to agree the wording of the proposal and we want to have a good campaign so that the public understands the importance of what is being proposed. We do not want to do anything that might cause risk and that includes rushing the referendum.

I do not think that would be rushing it. I understand it is complex. All of us understand that. What I am trying to understand, however, is how complex this is. I am also trying to get a good handle on the proposed timeframe. When does the Minister envisage that the proposals will be finalised by the Attorney General? The Minister mentioned that he is in the hands of that office. This is important. The Office of the Attorney General has many important issues to deal with. I would have thought, however, that one absolute priority would be to ensure water resources in Ireland remain in public ownership and that question is put to the people.

Does the Minister believe we will be able to hold a referendum this year? I have met officials from unions, such as SIPTU, representing water services workers in local authorities. They are, understandably, watching closely in the context of the proposed transfer to Irish Water to ensure water remains in public ownership. I am trying to understand when that will happen. I have not got that answer so far this morning from the Minister. What is his best guesstimate, if that is the case? Has the Attorney General actually prioritised this matter?

If not, will the Minister seek, through Government and in conjunction with his Cabinet colleagues, that this issue be made an absolute priority within the Office of the Attorney General? All of us understand the pressures of Brexit, so we do not necessarily need the answers on that element. We have our omnibus legislation prepared and ready to go and the Opposition has ceded time on that. That is fine. When, however, can we give people an indication as to when this referendum will take place?

This is very important to the Government. Commitments were made and I intend to honour them. It is not, however, as urgent as other things because there is not currently a risk to the public ownership of our water supplies. We are committed to bringing forward a referendum to ensure our water services remain in public ownership. The difficulty has been in finding language that mitigates the risks identified regarding group water schemes, private wells and Irish Water. Many attempts have been made to find the appropriate draft language.

It took some months to do that, longer than I thought. I have also met with the unions on a number of occasions and shared those 14 tests, and I can share them with Deputy O'Brien as well. When I met in March with a number of people on this issue, I expected that other proposals and other ideas for language and wording that would have cross-party support in this House would come forward. They did not, however. Some very smart people are trying to work out a solution to this issue and we now have Government approval on proposed wording. I brought that proposed wording to the Office of the Attorney General in November and he is working on that.

Does the Minister have any idea when that will be done?

At the moment, I cannot----

Is the Attorney General going to come back to the Minister?

This issue is, of course, important to me. My engagement with the Attorney General at the moment focuses on Brexit and rent legislation and the Attorney General is also dealing with a number of other issues. That is not to say this matter is not important. It has, however, taken some time for us to bring the wording to the Attorney General. His team is now working on that wording. As soon as that is ready, all of us will have wording we can campaign on to ensure the referendum is successful.

Social and Affordable Housing

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

21. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the new affordable housing scheme will be published; the income limits of the new scheme; the local authorities which will be using the scheme; when it will be available for applications; the targets for the number of affordable rental and affordable purchase homes to be delivered in 2019, 2020 and 2021; and the number of such homes to be delivered in the Ringsend SDZ and the various pathfinder sites across Dublin city and county. [8670/19]

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

22. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when he will publish regulations for the affordable purchase scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8292/19]

Will the Minister give the House an update on the affordable housing scheme that his Department officials have been working on? I ask, in particular, for as much detail as possible of income limits, eligibility, price, if such information is available, for renters or purchasers, and a timeline as to when the scheme will be introduced. There is a degree of frustration among councillors in Dublin City Council, for example, keen to progress a number of affordable housing projects. Those councillors are being advised by officials that the absence of a statutory scheme is slowing down progress. Any update the Minister can provide will be most welcome.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 21 and 22 together. Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 provides a new statutory basis for the delivery of affordable housing for purchase. The Act itself contains significant detail on the new arrangements, reducing the extent to which regulations are required. Insofar as regulations are necessary, the most immediate requirement is for regulations dealing with the making of schemes of priority by local authorities. I will be signing regulations dealing with that issue shortly which will allow local authorities to finalise their schemes of priorities by June, as required. Further regulations and detailed guidance will issue to local authorities in the coming weeks.

The new affordable housing scheme is targeted towards low to middle income first-time buyer households, with incomes of up to €50,000, and €75,000 in the case of single and dual applicant households, respectively. The priority areas for the operation of the scheme will be influenced by the economic assessments local authorities were asked to carry out on affordability issues in their areas. The examination of assessments submitted will be finalised shortly. The new scheme will be set in the context of moderating growth in house prices and rental levels in the market and will complement other key Government affordability initiatives. These include the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan, which has seen 575 loans to a total value of some €107 million drawn down to date, and the Help to Buy scheme, under which there have been nearly 10,000 applications, to a value of some €142 million, approved.

The affordable housing scheme will be open to applications as projects are delivered. In that regard, significant delivery is to be achieved through the €310 million serviced site fund, SSF, under which at least 6,200 affordable homes are to be supported over the next three years. An initial ten projects have been approved for €43 million of funding under the first call for proposals under the SSF. A second call will issue shortly and the first homes are expected to be delivered next year. In addition, some 2,350 affordable homes will be delivered on mainly publicly-owned lands being supported through the local infrastructure housing activation fund, LIHAF, while 5,600 further homes will benefit from a LIHAF-related cost reduction. The work of the Land Development Agency will also be of crucial importance in delivering more affordable housing. The initial portfolio of sites the agency has access to will have the potential, over the short to medium term, to deliver 3,000 affordable homes in line with the Government policy of achieving 30% affordable housing on State lands generally.

In parallel with this, the Dublin local authorities continue to progress a number of other significant housing projects on publicly-owned lands, including the redevelopment of O'Devaney Gardens and a site at Oscar Traynor Road in Dublin city, yielding some 250 affordable homes, and 380 cost rental homes to be delivered between projects at the former St. Michael's Estate in Inchicore and at Enniskerry Road in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown. The timing of delivery under these projects is contingent on the completion of planning and procurement in the first instance, but the local authorities are working to achieve delivery as quickly as possible.

In relation to the Poolbeg West strategic development zone, SDZ, the planning scheme for the area included provision for approximately 550 affordable homes. Delivery of these homes was to be arranged by agreement between Dublin City Council and the landowner and I understand that discussions in this regard, although not yet complete, are at an advanced stage.  As Deputies will be aware, there is currently an appeal to An Bord Pleanála in relation to the planning scheme for the SDZ.  Progress on development of the site is therefore dependent on the timing of the board's decision.

Last year, the ESRI, in conjunction with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, published important research on housing affordability. While it was found that overall 32% of renters and mortgage holders were having affordability issues, in the bottom 25% of income earners, it was found that 75% of those households were struggling with rent and mortgages. That demonstrates the scale of the problem. The research also clearly identified that this was not a recent phenomenon but something in place since approximately 2002, the date to which the research dated. We need to hear as well when these units will be delivered. For example, could we start to have annual targets, as we already have with social housing, for cost rental and affordable purchase? Could that also be broken down by local authority?

We need to start knowing the prices as well. For instance, we are hearing the price for Enniskerry Road will be 80% of market rent. That is nowhere close to affordable for the income brackets outlined in the new affordable housing scheme. The Minister might also clarify another issue I am concerned about. I welcome the affordable housing scheme the Minister is going to publish. Will it, however, only deal with purchase and not cost rental? My understanding is that local authority managers would like some clarity on that matter as well. At this stage, we would like to know when the units will be ready, what local authority areas will they be in and what will the price be to rent and buy.

On the first part of Deputy Ó Broin's question, if we examine the different schemes in place now, we are talking about delivering about 29,000 affordable homes. That is growing and work is happening in the Department to build that pipeline out. I refer to a pipeline similar to what is in place for social housing targets under the Rebuilding Ireland programme. We are going to do that. We are going to have targets for local authorities for the delivery of affordable homes to purchase and to rent. It will draw in the schemes currently in operation. That is happening now and it is going to be more ambitious than the 29,000 affordable homes currently in the system.

I turn now to cost reduction for renters. On cost rental we are talking about 15% to 25%, depending on how the scheme has been funded, what land was used, the interest rate at which the finance was secured and other factors that also play a part. That will be over the lifetime of a person's tenancy, whether that is five, ten, 15 or 20 years.

In our models, the cost reduction with respect the market rent grows to about 40% over time because the market rent continues to increase at market rates while the cost-rental rent does not. It may be linked to the consumer price index, CPI, or perhaps another much lower metric. We are trying to provide rent certainty over that period.

I thank the Minister. I am glad we are discussing this again. I have raised this issue with the Minister on a number of occasions. As the Minister is aware, Fianna Fáil made the delivery of an affordable housing scheme an absolute priority in the budget negotiations and secured €310 million over the next three years to kick-start this scheme. I am pleased that Sinn Féin has belatedly come on board and recognised the need for affordable purchase because that party opposed this very thing in the Dáil last May and opposed the budget as well. That said, we are all in agreement that there is an urgent need for the delivery of affordable homes. House prices are 90% higher than they were in 2012 and home ownership rates have dropped to 67.6%, the lowest level since 1971, while rents are soaring. We need the option of affordable purchase and affordable rent. When will the Minister actually publish the regulations? He reintroduced Part V after last June. When will the regulations will be published and when will we proceed with building affordable homes on State-owned land?

I thank the Deputy for the follow-up questions. The affordability schemes were already there but I very much appreciate Fianna Fáil's support for additional funding for the existing affordability scheme and the recognition that it is a good scheme that will work to delivery affordable housing. Fianna Fáil's support for Rebuilding Ireland is very welcome in that regard. As for the provision of affordable housing-----

The Minister is being a bit disingenuous there.

-----several schemes already were functioning very well. The Rebuilding Ireland home loan is more successful than anyone anticipated.

It does not bring affordability.

Just under 10,000 people have been able to purchase their first home through the help-to-buy scheme, which is fantastic. Other things are also happening, as I referenced in my first reply.

On the regulations for priority of access to affordable homes or schemes, it is unfair to suggest the fact that the regulations have not been finalised is delaying anything because we already have awarded €43 million in funding for the first round of sites. We have finalised the second round of sites and we are doing another call now. We have also received the economic assessments. I would like to give the Dáil the current proposed regulations in respect of the order of priority. I seek input from Members as to whether it is the appropriate order of priority for such a regulatory scheme.

I am not sure how the time works when two priority questions are grouped together.

I do not know either.

Do people have time to contribute again?

Both Members may ask a supplementary question.

The Minister is being deliberately disingenuous in part of his response there. The Fianna Fáil affordable housing scheme is the one we have actually pushed for.

The Fianna Fáil affordable housing scheme?

That is the scheme the Minister has not yet delivered. We had to drag €310 million out of a kicking and screaming Fine Gael. People are interested in knowing when they can apply and buy affordable homes. While the Rebuilding Ireland affordable home loan is a welcome product, I have said that publicly before, it does not deliver affordability in itself. It is an affordable product but it does not do anything vis-à-vis house prices, as the Minister is aware. It is not an affordability measure as such but helps people make affordable repayments. We are talking about affordable homes and a shared ownership arrangement with an equity stake held by the State, particularly on State-owned land. That is what we have been driving for.

I understand that nine local authorities have responded to the initial call. How advanced are those specific landbanks? I would welcome the Minister publishing the draft regulations in order that we can debate them here in the Dáil with input from all parties. This is a major part of the housing crisis. People are consigned and condemned to a rip-off rental market with no hope whatsoever of ever owning their own home. That is the situation for a whole generation of people. We will work with anyone to deliver a scheme that works, including schemes that have worked in the past but can be improved upon. I seek a timeframe. As I said, I will work with the Minister to deliver it and to get this scheme launched this year.

Is Deputy Ó Broin's question similar?

Perhaps. It is on the same subject.

The Minister can answer the two questions.

I have two supplementary questions. First, can the Minister clarify whether the regulations he has been speaking about will cover the cost-rental model, as well as affordable purchase? I have a genuine concern with the way he is structuring the financing of cost-rental projects. Because the model involves paying down the loans over 25 or 30 years, the starting rents are simply too high. Unless people's salaries increase substantially over the first five to ten years of their tenancies, they will not be able to benefit from what the Minister is calling a market price reduction. It would be much more sensible to extend the use of the capital advance leasing facility, CALF, to approved housing bodies as a soft loan from the Government to supplement the European Investment Bank, EIB, loans. That would allow the loans to be paid down over a period of 40 or 50 years, which would allow starting rents that would have no relationship with the market but could be genuinely affordable for families with modest incomes according to the Minister's own criteria. I refer to starting rents somewhere between €700 and €800 per month, instead of what we are going to see; in Dún Laoghaire, 80% of market rates would mean rents of €1,500 or €1,600, which is not affordable. There is a facility there already, namely, CALF. It just needs to be extended to the cost-rental model. I would strongly welcome annual local authority targets for all the schemes. Can the Minister give an indication of when he intends to publish those?

I thank both Deputies for their follow-up questions. Again, I thank Deputy Darragh O'Brien for his support for Rebuilding Ireland and the Rebuilding Ireland home loan. It is really welcome to hear that.

The Rebuilding Ireland home loan is a decent product.

I also thank him for supporting the serviced sites fund for affordable housing, which was in existence before the budget. The idea of using local authority land was not Fianna Fáil's idea, because it was not Fianna Fáil's practice in the past.

The Government has not done it.

It was our way of ensuring security for the provision of affordable housing. That is a fact on the record. I was in the meetings too.

The Government has not delivered a single affordable home.

Deputy Ó Broin's questions concerned the cost-rental model and financial modelling. A lot of work has been done with the EIB and the National Development Finance Agency, NDFA. Some of it is site specific and some of it is more general. This is absolutely not going to work if the rents are not affordable. We understand that. At the moment we are doing a lot of financial modelling around the Enniskerry Road site to see what starting rent we can lock in before it grows to a 40% cost reduction over time. The Deputy is aware of how important the cost-rental model is to me. It is something I want to see in this country so I am keeping a very close eye on the different schemes we have.

I have the order of priority for access to the scheme. In the first instance, this relates to affordable purchase. Once people apply, the first question will be whether the housing is suitable for their needs. If the applicant is a single person but the houses becoming available are three-bedroom homes, it will not be. The next criterion will be whether the person has been resident in the housing authority area for the 12 months immediately preceding application. The next question will be whether a household member is attending an educational facility within a certain distance of the homes concerned, then whether a household member is working within a certain distance of the home concerned. The next criterion is the date on which the application was made.

That is the current order of priority in the regulations. I ask people to consider those criteria and to come back very shortly on whether it is the right priority order. I believe it is, but I want to make sure people are happy with it.

The Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, said in his budget speech that he would review the income limit of €75,000 for a couple. Has that review happened? Is it happening as part of this?

The limit is €75,000 for a couple and €50,000 for an individual. That has not changed.

The Minister for Finance said he would review it.

Rental Sector

Mick Barry

Ceist:

23. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the steps he will take to counter price setting by institutional landlords (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8671/19]

An interesting and in some ways extraordinary report from the economics division of the Department of Finance was published in The Irish Times last week. Its authors perceived a threat that corporate landlords would be in a position to set high rents in concentrated urban areas if they become a stronger force within society and the market. Will the Minister comment on that report?

The February 2019 report on institutional investment in the housing market prepared by the economics division of the Department of Finance examines the role of institutional investors and large-scale landlords in the Irish residential property market. The report finds that the combined purchasing activity of property funds, real estate firms and real estate investment trusts accounted for a net 1% of transacted units in 2017. Ownership of rental properties by large-scale landlords, that is, those who own more than 100 rental units, is also low, accounting for 4.6% of the wider market.

The report acknowledges that the purchasing and ownership activity of such firms can be more pronounced at a local level, particularly in the context of the apartment market. In the main, the report acknowledges the activity of such firms as a positive development and points to emerging evidence that they are a driving force behind a significant increase in the supply of new apartments in Dublin. As Minister, I welcome their much-needed delivery of high-quality, high-density and well-located rental units.

The report highlights that there may be a risk that such firms could scale up over time to develop monopolistic or oligopolistic pricing power. However, the report also notes that there is currently a diverse range of landlords and property types in the rental market.  In 2017, approximately 310,000 private rented tenancies were registered with the Residential Tenancies Board, RTB, and 86% of landlords owned just one or two rental properties.

In fact, 70% owned just one property. Furthermore, the Department of Finance report focuses exclusively on apartments for analysis and comparators, whereas the market consists of both apartments and houses.

Part 3 of the Residential Tenancies Act prescribes the legal procedures for the setting and review of rents. Section 19 prohibits the setting of a rent above the market rent. Essentially, the amount of the rent payable is agreed between the landlord and tenant, cognisant of local rents for similar dwellings. These provisions are kept under ongoing review by my Department.

The Minister stated 70% of landlords own one or two properties. We know all that but the report refers to a new trend, namely, corporate landlords in urban areas – city-centre areas – becoming a real force and having the power to set rents. The report does not pull its punches in stating what these corporate landlords do. They supply apartments to the premium end of the market, and these are unsuitable for people on average incomes. The report states there is a risk that, should buy-to-rent investment continue at current growth rates, market forces will, over the longer term, create socio-economic polarisation in some urban areas. Reference is also made to the possibility of monopolistic or oligopolistic power in price setting. Having been warned, what measures does the Minister intend to take?

I thank the Deputy for the follow-up question. He talked about a trend; it is not a trend. Some 1% of transactions in 2017 is not a trend. A proportion of 4.6% of the stock is not a trend. The Deputy said 70% of landlords own one or two properties and that everyone knows that. Everyone does not know that because the Deputy is wrong. Some 86% of landlords own one or two properties, while 70% own only one. When the Deputy attacks landlords, as he often does in this House, he should think about the people he is attacking, namely, 86% of our landlords, who own only one or two properties, and the 70% who own only one. In most or many cases, they are accidental landlords who did not want or mean to become a landlord but who became one because of what happened in the financial crash or family circumstances. When the Deputy stands up here time and again attacking landlords, he is attacking people who find themselves in circumstances in which they do not want to be.

The Deputy spoke about the trend concerning institutional investors. We need more institutional investors because they increase the supply of apartments. We need tens of thousands of additional apartments, particularly in cities, if we are to meet the current housing challenge and also protect ourselves from other challenges, such as climate change, and also meet the need to promote proper spatial living and compact growth, as referred to in Project Ireland 2040.

The Department of Finance has issued a warning, and it has done so in stark terms. It has raised the risk of the investors developing monopolistic or oligopolistic pricing power in rent setting. It refers to pricing people on both average and low incomes out of the market. I asked the Minister a simple question, concerning what he intends to do about this, and he gave me a lecture about statistics. What does he intend to do about it?

We are talking about Kennedy Wilson taking over Elysian Tower in Cork, vulture funds taking over Leeside Apartments in Cork, the increasing power of Irish Residential Properties REIT in the Dublin area and so on. Does the Minister intend to introduce more aggressive rent control measures? Does he intend to end the tax breaks for the big corporate landlords? Crucially, does he intend to put more money into social housing in the inner-city areas in addition to the suburbs and other areas around the country, which is what is needed?

I thank the Deputy. I did not give him a lecture about statistics; I pointed out where he was wrong and how that lack of knowledge or ignorance is, unfortunately, leading to the statements he is making against landlords in this country, the vast majority of whom-----

Answer the question.

-----own only one property. It is not a case of big institutional landlords coming in and taking the approach the Deputy believes they are taking.

What is he going to do about it?

He is completely mischaracterising our landlord sector. It is doing a lot of damage for renters or others who might invest in becoming a landlord, thus making a rental property available to a young couple, a young person or a person coming to live and work in this country.

The report refers to 1% of transactions in 2017 involving institutional landlords and the stock proportion being 4.6%. It states this is low. A rate of 4.6% is low in any market but, of course, I will keep this under review. We are trying to encourage the building of tens of thousands more homes, including apartments. We are trying to find a better balance in our landlord market so we will not be exposed to people leaving that market, as present. Institutional investors coming in and making a long-term play in providing apartments over periods of ten, 15, 20 and 25 years is in our interest because those properties will remain as places to rent. That is what we need. We are losing landlords from the market. It is better to have a balance between institutional landlords and the small landlord, who features at present. We do not have that balance yet and are nowhere near it. I will keep this under review until we get closer to the balance we need to see in order to have a properly functioning, mature rental sector.

Local Authority Housing Data

Joan Collins

Ceist:

24. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the details of local authority houses built in 2018 in each local authority. [8368/19]

I wish to know the details of local authority houses built in 2018 in each local authority area. I raise this area specifically because it is the only one in which we have security of tenure. The housing assistance payment does not give tenants security of tenure. House-building and acquisitions will, as will the cost-rental model, I hope.

Last year, the Minister announced that 7,000 homes had been built. At a meeting in Cork, it transpired the number was much lower, amounting to only 700 approximately. This year, the Minister is saying the number will be 8,400. I would like the details on this if the Minister can provide them.

I thank the Deputy for the question.

Details on the 2018 social housing output against target, broken down by local authority area, have just been published on the statistics page of my Department's website, honouring the commitment I made last year to publish annual targets and full delivery details. They should have been published this morning. I published the high-level targets last week. The reason for the delay was that we were waiting for the chairperson of a new task force we are establishing in Galway for housing delivery to confirm he or she would take on the role. The person confirmed only this morning. On confirmation, I was able to publish the detailed reports, in addition to the new measure we are taking in Galway city and county.

Overall, a very strong performance was achieved by comparison with the national target for the year. Regarding new-build activity in 2018, some 4,251 additional social homes were delivered across the 31 local authority areas. This included delivery under a range of schemes, either led directly by local authorities or in partnership with approved housing bodies. Of the 4,251 new homes provided, 2,022 were delivered by local authorities, 1,388 were delivered by approved housing bodies and 841 came through Part V agreements. Overall, the new-build social housing delivery last year, while marginally below target, was up 85% on 2017, and was more than eight times higher than in 2015, the year before Rebuilding Ireland was introduced.

My Department and I are committed to the accelerated delivery of all social housing projects and will continue to work with all local authorities and approved housing bodies to ensure that quality and value for money projects are delivered efficiently and effectively. This is evident from the significant increase in new-build social housing activity in 2018 and the further significant increase targeted for this year.

I apologise for the Deputy not having the table in front of her. It should be published now. It shows each local authority area and each of the delivery streams in each local authority. It shows performance against the targets I set in January of last year in terms of local authority build, approved housing authority build, Part V developments, leasing, acquisition, and HAP and RAS. People can see the exact breakdown in respect of the 27,000 new households that were supported last year by the taxpayer.

I tabled the question because we had not seen those figures. The Minister is saying they were released this morning. The Minister's building target in Dublin city last year was 1,045 local authority houses. Has this number been built? The target for Galway city was 96 local authority houses. Considering that none was built the previous year, it would be interesting to know whether the target of 96 was reached.

I have a breakdown of all the local authority target build figures for 2018 so we will be able to compare these with the numbers actually built. I look forward to looking at and investigating the figures published today.

It is a rather large table so it is difficult to elaborate on it. The Deputy asked what Dublin City Council provided over the course of 2018. There were 264 new builds by the local authority. There were 282 new builds in partnership with the housing bodies. There were 104 delivered through Part V. Therefore, the total new build figure was 650 across the three streams. There were 200 done in voids. More voids were done than that but we decided to cap the voids at 560, as per the Rebuilding Ireland plan. Three times as many voids were done across the local authority area. That brings the total local authority build in Dublin city to 850. In addition, 265 homes were acquired by the city council and 280 by housing bodies in the area, bringing the acquisition total to 545. If I am reading the table correctly, 61 homes were leased.

That brings the total supports provided in Dublin City Council, including housing assistance payment and the rental accommodation scheme, to a little less than 4,000. The council achieved 81% of its build target, or 83% if one includes acquisitions and leasing. This is the kind of breakdown I proposed delivering at the end of 2018 such that Members can examine the information and see what is working and what is not. It is available for every local authority area.

We will drill down into those figures. The Minister stated there were 264 new builds by the local authority and 282 by housing bodies, in addition to Part V provision, giving a total of 650 new builds, with the remainder being acquisitions and leasing and so on. The target for last year was 1,045, indicating that less than 81% of the target was reached. Will those targets not being met impact on the overall figure for local authority builds up to 2021 to which the Government has committed?

According to my figures, the total build for Dublin City Council is 850 properties, while the target was 1,045. The council did not reach the target, achieving a little more than 80%. We must be fair to local authorities. For many years, the challenge they were facing was not trying to build housing but, rather, dealing with unfinished housing estates and land they bought that had significant debt on it because of the way the economy went after 2008 and 2009. They have been building their resources over several years and we are now seeing significant improvements. Dublin City Council did not hit its target but it made significant improvement on what it achieved in 2015 and 2017. Some local authorities are exceeding their targets, which is welcome.

A task force is being brought in for Galway city and county because the councils there are not performing as we want them to. Difficulties may exist between county boundary areas, as was the case in Cork. It is hoped that the expertise which brought about a greater than targeted increase in delivery in Cork will now be of assistance in Galway. Across all local authority areas, 96% of the national target was hit. Some local authorities are exceeding their targets, others are coming in on target and others are not meeting targets. My responsibility as Minister is to help local authorities which are not reaching their targets and see what extra resources we can provide to get them performing as well as other local authorities. There has been an eightfold increase in build since the year before Rebuilding Ireland. I congratulate local authorities on that significant achievement.