Tuesday, 11 June 2019
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
Local Authority Housing Provision
I acknowledge that Deputy Stanley understands we cannot just wave a magic wand and deliver housing. He might inform his party's housing spokesperson of the same logic because he does not seem to understand this. Other members of his party also do not understand it, but I am glad Deputy Stanley does. That is certainly progress.
There are no projects awaiting approval for two or three years. Projects go through many different stages, which I will explain to the Deputy in a moment, and we have made a lot of changes to that process. We have all come across projects in the past that were, for whatever reason, in the system for two, three, four and even five years in some cases, but no one can say to me there is an application sitting in our Department that has been awaiting approval for two or three years. That is certainly not the case. On many occasions colleagues have brought forward examples to the Minister and to me, and when we have checked them out, we have found there are different stories behind them, so I am conscious that very often local information might not match national information. We have brought about a whole new scheme to make this very clear to everyone. We can all track this so we know exactly the progress made on a project.
Social housing projects funded by our Department, like all publicly funded construction projects, must comply with the Government's capital works management framework, the objectives of which are to ensure cost certainty, value for money and financial accountability. There are nine stages in the framework, which our Department has streamlined to just four for social housing construction projects.
Important steps have already been put in place to improve the timelines involved in the advancement of new social housing capital construction projects. A timeline of 59 weeks is now in place from the bringing forward of an initial proposal to the placing of the construction contract and starting on site, encompassing the full design, planning and procurement processes. This compares favourably with private sector construction projects. I am not aware of any project, private or public, that from inception has been on site and under construction in 59 weeks. In some cases we come slightly under the timeline but, on average, in the private sector and the public sector, 59 or 60 weeks is regarded as best practice. Sometimes we get there in 50 weeks, which is worth doing.
The 59-week period includes the time required for our Department to assess and approve projects. However, this is just a small element of the timeline.