Thursday, 7 November 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Simon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
I do not mind saying that I have been somewhat of a magnet for people to come and talk about social housing concerns and housing concerns generally because I was a Minister in that Department. I do not mind that because we are trying to help families, not expose them to the dangers and vulnerabilities of homelessness. We have an overreliance at the moment on the private rental sector for social housing solutions but that reliance is shrinking each year as we build up our social housing stock, which will increase by more than 10,000 this year and probably closer to 12,000 next year. We are seeing dramatic investment. Our housing budget for next year is, I believe, €2.63 billion. It has increased dramatically over the past four or five years because housing is needed and is a priority for Government. If we are starting with a stock that is too small, we have to increase that stock and provide viable, safe solutions for people in the meantime.
That is where HAP has been a good improvement on rent allowance. However, this does not mean that it is perfect. If there are problems with individual local authorities in terms of processing times, as well as the time it takes to make decisions and approvals, I would like to hear about them and we will try and respond as best we can.