The Government’s 2011 Housing Policy Statement clearly outlines that the priority for Government will be to meet the most acute needs of households applying for social housing support. Government is responding to these needs through a variety of mechanisms and more flexible funding models. To maximise the social housing gain from constrained resources, the social housing leasing initiative and the Rental Accommodation Scheme each play their part as long term social housing supports. I am also fully committed to the principle that there should be a social housing gain from private developments. I believe that we need to strike a balance between stimulating the construction sector while capturing a proportionate social housing gain from any increased construction activity. Alongside expanding the role of the Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) in terms of acquisitions and construction, other mechanisms will include options to purchase within the leasing model and build to lease.
In July 2012, I announced details of a three-year funding programme of €100 million to deliver some 800 new units of voluntary and local authority owned social housing. In 2014 funding of over €587 million is being made available across a range of housing programmes. This includes a €50 million capital stimulus to support construction and related programmes, primarily in the housing area, including €30 million to recommence a State house building programme; €10 million for an unfinished housing estate resolution project; and €10 million for housing adaptation grants. When this is taken into account funding for housing for 2014 is effectively maintained at 2013 levels.
With the benefit of the additional capital for new housing construction, the new social housing construction programme for 2014 - 2015 is expected to deliver close to 700 new social and voluntary homes. Earlier today, I announced a €68m social housing construction programme for local authorities that will see some 56 individual projects being progressed over the 2014-2015 period and will deliver 449 new homes. I intend to announce details of the projects to be progressed by AHB’s under the Capital Assistance Scheme as early as possible in Quarter 2, 2014. In addition, a special investment of €15 million for the retrofitting of boarded-up local authority houses is intended to bring 400 homes back into productive use for persons in need of social housing.
The Homelessness Oversight Group, which I established in 2013 for the purposes of reviewing the progress of the approach being advocated in the Homelessness Policy Statement, identifying obstacles and proposing solutions has submitted its first report to me. The report considered the supply and access to housing units throughout the country. A copy of this report is available on my Department's website, www.environ.ie.
On 25 February 2014, the Government approved the establishment of a Homelessness Policy Implementation Team and an implementation unit. The team is tasked with implementing the Homelessness Oversight Group's First Report. In spite of the financial constraints within which we are required to operate, I expect the final output across all social housing programmes for 2014 to be in the region of 5,000 new housing units. I am committed to continuing to develop innovative and sustainable approaches to the provision of social housing into the future.
Question No. 383 answered with Question No. 350.