I am aware of the figures regarding vacant houses outlined in the recently published report by the Central Statistics Office. My Department will be fully considering this data, and other information to be released by the CSO over the coming months, as part of ongoing housing policy development. Details of an initial analysis of these data are contained in reply to Question No. 61 on today's order paper.
The key components of our housing policy, which are centred on ensuring that there is sufficient supply to meet demand and providing support to those who cannot meet their accommodation needs without assistance, are outlined in the Government's new housing policy statement Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities.
The housing policy statement and the National Development Plan 2007-2013 (NDP) also provide for a significant expansion of social and affordable housing to meet accommodation needs of households which are not served by the market, as already envisaged in Towards 2016. The NDP provides the resources — some €18 billion in total which will enable needs of some 140,000 new households to be met in this period.
These resources will be used to meet the needs of some 100,000 households seeking social housing by commencing/ acquiring 63,000 new social homes in the period 2007-2013, through a combination of local authority, voluntary and co-operative housing and new units for the Rental Accommodation Scheme. Further households will benefit as they transfer to the Rental Accommodation Scheme with their existing landlords or from naturally occurring vacancies. Over the period 2007 to 2009 sufficient resources will be made available to commence/acquire some 27,000 new units of social housing.
In addition over the period of the NDP some 40,000 households will benefit from affordable housing. 17,000 of these will be delivered in the first three-year period, in line with the agreement in Towards 2016. In accordance with the NESC report we are also ensuring that these new homes are delivered to a standard which will result in the kind of high quality integrated sustainable communities which are worth building.