Tuesday, 14 May 2019
An Bille um an gCúigiú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht (An Ceart chun Teaghaise) 2016: An Dara Céim [Comhaltaí Príobháideacha] - Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Right to a Home) Bill 2016: Second Stage [Private Members]
Damien English (Meath West, Fine Gael)
Sinn Féin can protest all it wants. It would be a better use of its time if it could come into this House and spell out, site by site, where it would deliver social houses. This year, we will deliver 10,000 social houses. They will not all be delivered in the way Sinn Féin would like them to be delivered. We accept that. We have different ways of delivering housing. Approximately 6,400 will be direct and new build, a combination of social housing directly built by the local authorities, approved housing bodies and Part V. I accept that Sinn Féin has a problem with the fact that some houses will be leased. We do not. We propose to provide a couple of thousand houses in that way. We will also acquire houses. In total, there will be 10,000 new social houses this year, which will be built on year on year. With respect, nobody in Sinn Féin has shown me that it can deliver any more houses than that.
Everybody continually says the housing assistance payment, HAP, scheme is not good. At this time, there are approximately 45,000 families in HAP homes. Naturally, we would all prefer if they were in permanent social housing stock and could remain there for all their lives. That is the aim long term. If we did not have the HAP scheme, there would be 45,000 families without a home. Again, nobody opposite has provided an answer to that question. That is the reality. Most of those people are happy in those houses. I accept that for some people it does not work out well, but the majority of people are very happy to participate in the HAP scheme because it provides them with a family home.