I was pleased to announce that 2003 was the ninth consecutive year of record housing output with 68,819 units completed, a 19.3% increase on 2002 levels. There was also a significant increase in the output of housing in Dublin in 2003, with completions of 14,394, an increase of 14% on last year.
This outcome is proof that Government measures to boost housing supply and thereby improve affordability are having effect. Within the environment set by these policies, we have seen a positive response from the construction industry, local authorities and the voluntary and co-operative housing sector to meeting the unprecedented demand for housing that we have experienced in recent years. We do not have a definitive breakdown of house completions either by type of purchaser or whether they were second or holiday homes or intended for renting. However, indicative data available to my Department show that first time buyers continue to have a significant presence in the housing market. My Department is in discussion with the Central Statistics Office regarding the collection of more reliable information on second homes with the objective of addressing this information deficit.
The Government has been actively responding to the increased level of social housing need by expanding social and affordable housing output very significantly. Full data on the output from the range of social and affordable housing measures will be published later this month. It is estimated that the needs of over 12,000 households were addressed through these measures in 2003. The Government will continue to focus on measures to maintain a high level of overall housing supply in 2004 and to support the needs of low-income groups through the broad range of social and affordable housing measures.