I propose to take Questions Nos. 338, 348 to 350, inclusive, and 354 together.
The Government has made housing a top priority and, through the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan, has a framework in place to deliver an increase and acceleration in the supply of high quality housing, including social and affordable homes particularly in the major urban areas where demand is greatest.
In order to directly influence and generate supply of new homes, Rebuilding Ireland contains a suite of actions that will increase housing construction and refurbishment. Under Pillar 2 of the Action Plan, 50,000 new social homes will be delivered by 2021, supported by €6 billion in Exchequer funding. Of these, 33,500 homes will be provided through direct construction and refurbishment. Significant progress has been made in increasing the build programmes of local authorities and approved housing bodies and there are over 12,000 new homes in the social housing construction pipeline, which is being added to on a weekly basis.
With the funding made available in Budget 2018, the aim is to meet the housing needs of almost 25,500 households during 2018. Central to this delivery will be the construction of 3,800 new homes by local authorities and approved housing bodies, through direct build, turnkey developments, rapid delivery and regeneration programmes. This construction programme underpinned by a multifaceted Action Plan is, I believe, the correct way to make a fast and sustainable response to the housing crises.
The Social Housing Construction Status Reports, which I now publish quarterly, provide information on the construction programme underway for each local authority area. The last published report, which sets out the position at the end of September 2017, shows that there were over 3,600 new social homes on site and under construction and a further 2,000 new homes with approval to appoint contractors and move onto the construction phase. That report is available on my Department’s website at the following link:
It will be these schemes that will form the bulk of the housing starts and delivery of the 3,800 homes targeted through new builds in 2018. The precise timing for the advancement of each of these projects, including completion dates and tenanting, is a matter in the first instance for the relevant local authorities and approved housing bodies. However, my Department is working closely with the local authorities on delivery, including through a new Delivery Office and through quarterly meetings to address challenges and delays that can and do arise with individual projects.
Through these contacts, my Department working with the local authorities and approved housing bodies, is ensuring that the necessary quantum of projects is in place to meet our 2018 construction delivery targets. Further project approvals are being added to the construction programme as they are developed and these will also form part of the delivery for 2018 and beyond.
My Department does not hold comprehensive information on the planning process in the case of all social housing construction projects as this is a matter for the local authority. In the interests of expediting projects, it is common for the planning process and my Department's approval process to operate in parallel rather than in sequence. The information on social housing projects at the various stages of advancement that is published in the quarterly reports includes those that are at 'Stage 2' or 'pre-planning'. Projects beyond that stage will have secured planning approval.
Projects that are at Stage 4 and beyond have been approved by my Department to appoint contractors and I look forward to seeing the homes involved completed and families receiving keys as soon as possible.