My Department issued the first call for proposals under the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) to all local authorities in August 2016. Preliminary approval was given to 34 projects in March 2017 and I have since fully approved funding for 30 of the 34 projects, including roads, bridges and parks, at a cost of approximately €195 million, with an associated housing delivery of 20,000 housing units by 2021.
As part of Budget 2018, I announced that an additional €50 million Exchequer funding will be available for a second LIHAF call. As was the case in the original LIHAF call, this will be subject to matching funding by local authorities. My Department will provide 75% Exchequer funding, with the Local Authorities themselves providing 25% matching funding. This will bring funding for the second call to €66.5 million and overall LIHAF funding under both calls to over €260 million. The call for proposals under LIHAF2 will be issued to local authorities shortly.
Projects approved for funding under LIHAF will typically have design, planning, tendering and construction phases for the public infrastructure concerned. All projects that received preliminary approval in March 2017 were allowed to proceed to design phase immediately after that and most are going through the planning and tendering phases at the moment.
Local authorities can draw down the funding allocated to their projects at any stage, once the project cost has been incurred. My Department invited the 14 local authorities to submit their first tranche of certified expenditure at the end of 2017 and the total submitted by local authorities for draw down was €1.6 million. My Department is currently processing draw-down requests for Q1 2018.
While there was an underspend by local authorities in 2017, funding for LIHAF is ring-fenced within the overall housing budget and through proactive management of the broader housing programme, any LIHAF underspend was diverted to other housing activities, ensuring that the funding available in 2017 was fully applied to housing priorities.
The low level of the draw down to date by local authorities reflects the stages which these infrastructure projects are currently at. The expenditure incurred during the design, planning and tendering stages is significantly lower than that at the construction stage so a major increase in draw-down will arise as projects progress through construction.
While I am anxious for the infrastructure and the housing to be delivered as fast as possible, I recognise that local authorities must observe proper design, planning and tendering procedures. My Department will continue to monitor progress on these sites and ensure that every effort is made to secure the timely delivery of the infrastructure involved.