Thursday, 24 June 2021
Ceisteanna - Questions - Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions
4. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the amount provided by his Department to Tipperary County Council for 2020 in respect of housing supports (details supplied). [34133/21]
I ask the Minister how much money was provided by his Department to Tipperary County Council in 2020 in respect of the rental accommodation scheme, the long-term leasing scheme and the housing assistance payment.
The rental accommodation scheme has been an important contributor to social housing supply since its introduction on a pilot basis in 2005. Expenditure under the scheme covers recoupment made to local authorities for contracted rents due to private landlords and approved housing bodies, administration costs and a damages contingency fund for newly acquired accommodation.
Exchequer funding of €6.9 million was provided to Tipperary in 2020 to support 1,071 tenancies. Funding for leasing projects is provided under the social housing current expenditure budget. This supports the delivery of social housing by providing financial support to local authorities for the long-term leasing of houses and apartments from private owners and approved housing bodies.
Tipperary County Council delivered 40 additional properties under the social housing leasing scheme in 2020, with a total spend for the year of €2.5m in relation to all leased properties.
The housing assistance payment, HAP, is a flexible and immediate housing support available to all eligible households throughout the State. Funding for HAP for Tipperary in 2020 amounted to €7.1 million, with 1,868 active tenancies at the end of 2020. This funding represents the portion paid by my Department after receipt of the differential rent which is paid by the tenant to the local authority. It does not include administration costs related to the scheme.
It is very disappointing because HAP payments from Tipperary County Council went to 1,178 tenancies in 2019. In 2020, it was more than 1,800. The total cost in 2019 was more than €6.8 million; in 2020, it was €7.1 million.
The housing leasing scheme is only one third of that, according to the figures the Minister of State has given. That scheme, which offers tenants long-term security, is not being promoted or advanced by most local authorities. It could and does provide longer term security for tenants of ten or 20 years. This would be also more cost effective for the State. There are sizable administration costs at county council and Department levels.
The Government has front-loaded money into HAP and it is not delivering homes for people. I accept it is putting roofs over people's heads and was needed but the overemphasis on HAP is damaging to the building of new homes.
The Deputy will be aware that the Minister, Deputy O'Brien, has been keen to redress the imbalance in terms of direct build in our housing. That can be seen on the ground in Tipperary. There has been a 32% reduction in the housing list in the county in recent years. A total of 526 new homes have been built since 2016, including 274 social, 14 under the Part V process and 238 which have been brought back into use from vacancy. The Minister has brought huge impetus in the last year to driving local authorities to bring vacant properties back into use for our citizens. We are making progress. There are 234 homes across 19 sites that are going through the design process and 138 at pre-tender stage. There is a drive to get direct build new homes on the ground for the citizens of Tipperary.
I respect the Minister of State but he must have been listening to the Tánaiste at his Ard-Fheis last weekend. In the past five years, there has been a complete failure by the Government to fund local authorities building houses. In 2016, there were only 320 local authority new builds; in 2017, there were 1,014 new builds; in 2018, 2,022 new builds; in 2019, 2,271 new builds; in 2020, only 2,300 new builds; in 2021 so far, there have been 1,995. The Tánaiste at the Ard-Fheis last weekend must have been in cloud cuckoo land to think he could pluck 40,000 a year out of the sky. This has not been happening. Fine Gael has been in government for ten years and nothing is happening. It was supported by Fianna Fáil in the so-called confidence and supply agreement for five years. Now Fianna Fáil promises to build 9,500 social houses per year. The spin does not get it done. We are not getting houses built. We were to build them in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and everything else. Now it is all spin and veneer and houses are not being built for people.
Will the Deputy will let me finish? I did not interrupt him. I would appreciate it if he could give me a bit of time. In the first instance, there has been an increase of 300% in housing supply since 2012. The Government has also delivered 34,000 new social homes, homes that are right for our citizens, since 2016. That represents a 300% increase in supply. While I accept that there are frustrations, there is a record budget within the Department, totalling €3.3 billion, to deliver social and affordable housing. As the Deputy will be aware, the Affordable Housing Bill has been going through the Houses of the Oireachtas and is nearing completion. The Land Development Agency is going to deliver houses at scale. There is nothing wrong with having ambition to deliver housing on the ground for our citizens. But for Covid, last year we would have delivered well over 20,000 units. The Deputy will see continued delivery over this year and next year. The facts speak for themselves with regard to the number of units on the ground. We have increased the numbers from a very low base and we will continue to increase them with a record budget in the Department.