I propose to take Questions Nos. 240 and 241 together.
Action 18.8 of the Housing for All Plan, which was published in September, states that the Department of Finance will lead communication and engagement with institutional investors, including tradeshow events, to communicate policies and encourage sustainable investment in residential accommodation.
Before the pandemic, in 2019 there were just over 21,000 homes built and in 2020 the number of housing completions was just over 20,600. Therefore, meeting the target of an average of 33,000 homes per year will clearly require a significant increase in delivery. This increase in delivery will also require an increase in investment to support the building of new homes - in particular in the form of development finance.
This development finance will be needed by all those involved in developing homes across all regions of our country, from small and medium sized builders and developers, to larger operators, and this finance must come from a range of sources.
The Housing for All plan has clearly set out that public monies alone will not account for all of the funding for housing development in the State. External sources of finance will be needed to bridge the gap between the overall funding requirement to build an average of 33,000 homes each year, and that provided via direct Exchequer funding, State borrowing, Home Building Finance Ireland and the domestic banking sector.
Housing for All committed to the establishment of three dedicated work streams to drive the delivery of key aspects of the plan. This includes an investment work stream, which is chaired by the Department of Finance and includes membership from the Department of Housing Local Government and Heritage, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment and the NTMA.
Through the Housing for All investment work stream, there will be ongoing stakeholder engagement with a wide range of public and private bodies with a role in financing housing development. This will include engagement with public bodies involved in home delivery such as Home Building Finance Ireland, the Land Development Agency, the Housing Finance Agency, the Irish Strategic Investment Fund, the European Investment Bank and the Council of Europe Development Bank, amongst others. It will also include engagement with domestic banks and private entities including institutional investors who also play an important role in funding the supply of additional property in Ireland, as is the case in most other property markets. The forward investment provided by investors provides capital to construct additional properties and many of these homes would not be available without the investment provided.
This engagement with stakeholders across the broad spectrum of funding for residential development is an important means of understanding the funding landscape and supporting the availability of the right type of finance for the wide variety of home developers and development schemes nationwide.
Currently, consideration is being given to the nature and type of this engagement.
Any engagement with institutional investors is not undertaken with a view to encouraging the bulk buying of residential houses. Rather, it is one part of a broader targeted engagement with all public and private bodies with a role in financing housing development, to ensure an adequate supply of appropriate finance to support the development of additional homes across the State.
Ensuring that people have access to home ownership in this country is a priority for this Government. Building up supply, after a period during which construction was forced to close for a significant period of time, is key to delivering on the ambitious targets set in Housing for All and making sure that those who wish to develop homes have access to a range of appropriate funding sources, both public and private, is central to the delivery of additional homes across the country. Engagement with key stakeholders is an important and legitimate means of gathering information on the funding landscape for residential housing development.