Tuesday, 8 November 2022
Housing for All: Statements (Resumed)
I welcome our distinguished guest and other visitors. It is important that they know we are discussing Housing for All, a plan that was introduced just over a year ago following the change of Government. This is not one more in a series of other plans; it is dramatically different. It is unprecedented in terms of its scope, ambition and comprehensive approach to providing adequate housing in our country. It is backed by €20 billion of State funding; taxpayers' money is underpinning this plan. It is further underpinned by legislation passed in this House and in the Dáil that gives power to local authorities, for the first time in well over a decade, to use State-owned lands to build not just social homes but affordable homes. It will deliver for generations to come. It is determined to not just eliminate homelessness, but put back into reach the possibility for every citizen in our country to have their own secure, affordable, fit-for-purpose home in a place they want to live.
While the plan is ambitious, it certainly faces challenges. As Senator Cummins mentioned, if we look back to the numbers in 2015, only 5,000 homes were built in our country. We have come out of a decade of undersupply of housing. We had two years of a pandemic. The war in Ukraine has led to very significant supply chain shortages. There has been significant cost inflation and energy inflation and yet, one year on from the introduction of the passing of Housing for All, the indicators are strong and positive. The number of planning applications for houses has increased, as has the rate of construction and completion.In the first three quarters of this year some 20,807 new homes were completed. That is more than in any year since the Central Statistics Office, CSO, statistics started in 2011. In 2022 we are likely to exceed the target of 24,600 but that is not enough. The plan states that we need to deliver somewhere between 30,000 and 35,000 new homes per year but this is one year and we must consider the circumstances. In the long list of challenges I mentioned, I did not mention the delays caused by planning, planning objections, reviews in the courts and judicial reviews. The local authorities tell us that these delays do not add months of delays to their ability to deliver social and affordable homes; they add years. People still take these judicial reviews and object; people who own homes and land and who will never face homelessness.
The Housing for All plan is working and it is working because it is using every available resource at the State's disposal. It faces significant challenges but the local authorities and the AHBs have to be commended on the way they have adopted it. The local authorities have made explanations to us and Senator Keogan mentioned how, of the three developments mentioned in her county that opened this week alone, all of them were social housing. That is not a negative and our priority should be to provide housing to those who most need help first. The fact that the local authority was not delivering affordable housing is because until the introduction of Housing for All, the local authorities did not have the legislative basis and the framework to deliver affordable housing. We should not be apologising to anybody for that. The local authorities welcome the fact that they have been empowered to deliver affordable housing.
What this means in my area of Dublin Central is that for the first time in a decade on streets like Dominick Street, Dorset Street, North King Street and Connaught Street, new homes are being built, keys are being allocated and tenants will move in before Christmas. This is also happening in Cabra, on the Cabra Road, Bannow Road and Ratoath Road. Throughout the city and across the country, the local authorities are gearing up and using and availing of the support that has been provided by this Government. It is questionable whether that support will be provided by future Governments but it is being provided by this Government and there is a commitment, on a prolonged basis, to use the State's resources to deliver social and affordable homes.
For the first time ever, affordable cost rental homes have been introduced. This is a concept that had been talked about for decades but that is being delivered for the first time in this country and that is welcome. Renters have been at the coalface of this housing crisis. The additional protections for renters are welcome, the most recent being the ban on winter evictions, the cap on rents, the extended notice periods and the extended protections for renters. These are all welcome but the only way we can really protect renters and ensure that renting is a viable option for people into the future is by providing security of tenure. That is why the affordable cost rental model is incredibly important.
I want to take issue with something that was said and the way the right to housing has been alluded to because there is a commitment in Housing for All to a referendum on housing. It is a commitment that my party supports, along with others. It is a matter that has been debated in this House and I recall that there was almost unanimous support for it when we debated the right to housing in this House. This would involve an amendment to Bunreacht na hÉireann to ensure the right to housing. It is important that this issue is debated and the Housing Commission has commenced the work and engaged in public consultation. I hope the Minister of State will be able to update the House today on when the Government expects to receive its report from the Housing Commission on the proposition of amending Bunreacht na hÉireann to include a right to housing. It is important that the country and the State ensure that the mistakes of the past are never repeated and that the State is committed, on a long-term basis, to deliver on its obligation to ensure that each and every one of its citizens has access to a safe, secure and affordable home that meets the requirements of each of its citizens.
We all know the housing supply has been too low, that housing affordability is too high and that there are far too many people homeless. Everyone on this side of the House is committed to Housing for All, not for Housing for All's sake but for the sake of the possibility and potential it has to fix our housing problems. I thank the Minister of State for coming to the House, for debating this issue and for updating us on it. I look forward to his reply on my referendum on housing question.
I also welcome the Minister of State to the House. Homelessness is a measure by which any housing policy would be assessed. Just before the mid-term break, we spoke here about the levels of homelessness. Back in August there were 10,800 adults and children in emergency accommodation, funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. We think the real figure is closer to 16,000 when you take into account the 4,500 people in direct provision who have a legal right to stay in our country but who are trapped in direct provision. We must also include the number of rough sleepers and of women and children in Tusla-funded domestic shelters who have fled domestic and sexual-based violence. That 16,000 figure would also not include those who are forced to stay with family and friends, couch-surf or stay in overcrowded or otherwise unsuitable accommodation. That is a measure by which any housing policy is judged.
On child homelessness, studies show that children and young people are disproportionately represented in these figures, with children accounting for just under one third of total homeless figures. Research by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and others shows that experience of homelessness and poor quality housing increases the risk of severe physical and mental ill health during childhood and early adulthood by up to 25%.
Rising rents, combined with increasing house prices mean that home ownership is becoming an increasingly unlikely prospect for many. Recent figures form the Economic and Social Research Institute, ESRI, indicate that the home ownership rate is set to fall to as low as 50% for those aged between 25 and 34. However, the Government’s failure to provide effective safeguards beyond the winter evictions ban for those renting means that Ireland is a precarious place for renters. The rental sector in Ireland is often characterised by accommodation that is unsuitable for many individuals and families and Sinn Féin made renters in the private rental market our focus in a recent Private Members' motion in this House. I too would welcome an update on the amendment to Bunreacht na hÉireann that Senator Fitzpatrick has mentioned.
Ever-increasing house prices, combined with the lack of affordable and suitable rental accommodation means there is a greater need than ever for affordable social homes. Unfortunately the Government targets are not sufficiently ambitious to effectively address the need for social housing. This issue is compounded by a failure to deliver on proposed targets. The issue is not just that these targets are being missed but that the Department then simply discards these units entirely. Instead of accepting that we need to take these missed units and roll them into increased targets for subsequent years, they are just lost. Since this Government took office, 8,000 of the promised social homes have not been and will not be delivered. I give that figure with an optimistic assessment of the output this year. However, the Government’s figures indicate that just 20% of the promised 9,000 social homes have been delivered by halfway through the year. In other words, just 1,700 of the promised 9,000 new-build social homes have been delivered.While I welcome the Government's reopening of the tenant in situscheme, 300 homes is nowhere near enough. The scheme should have been opened at the start of the year. Local authorities are still far too slow in taking up this instruction. The Government should go further than it has to date and issue a circular to instruct local authorities to buy these properties, subject to price and condition of them, to stop families and single people becoming homeless. The Government must also reassess the current caps on acquiring houses from the private rental market. The current caps are insufficient and do not take adequate account of the current housing market within which the local housing authorities are currently operating.
In conclusion, the winter ban on evictions is welcome. We had called for that for a long time. However, it has to be met with emergency measures to increase affordable housing and social supply. Let us use the breathing space that the winter ban on evictions gives us to accelerate and increase the delivery of public housing to meet social and affordable housing need by bringing more vacant units into stock, delivering higher quality permanent modular homes, cutting red tape and bureaucracy that is slowing down the delivery of social homes, and increasing the purchase of private rental homes with HAP and RAS tenants in place at risk of eviction.
I thank the Minister of State for coming in again to debate the issue of housing. I want to start by recognising the positives in Housing for All and the Government response. My colleague, Senator Warfield, alluded to this. In particular, I refer to responding to the need for a winter eviction ban, which was likely to overwhelm homeless services. Almost certainly, there are people and families who will not be entering homelessness over this winter period as a result of the winter eviction ban. Measures such as revising the tenant in situscheme from the beginning of the year regarding limits on local authorities are also welcome. However, the Government needs to be much more proactive in sitting on some local authorities in respect of the tenant in situscheme. Some local authorities are very good in the application of the scheme and others are not. The introduction of Part 4 tenancies and the increase in some renters' rights are welcome, as is the introduction of rent limits, albeit in a hyperinflationary environment. We have spent the last two years increasing, in a piecemeal way, security of tenure for renters, but it does not go far enough.
While we sit here and Members on the Government side laud Housing for All and say it is working, by any measure and yardstick people feel that Government housing policy is failing. Why is that? It is because house prices are up 14%. While house prices are collapsing elsewhere, because of our lack of supply, our prices might slow down but they will not fall. People who cannot afford to get onto the housing ladder will not be able to get onto it. Renters are the most vulnerable group that we have in the housing puzzle. Rents are up 9.2% year-on-year since 2016. That equates an average rent of €1,600 per month nationally, and of over €2,000 per month in Dublin. We are seeing rental increases of over 13% in some parts of Dublin. Evictions have now passed not 10,000 but 11,000. There are 3,000 children living in homeless services. Today, on "Morning Ireland", I listened to a mother who talked about how she was evicted from a house in Ballyfermot. Anybody who knows Ballyfermot knows that it was built by the State. This mother was evicted by a private landlord from a house in Ballyfermot and she is living in a homeless hub in Harold's Cross that is funded by the State. She was standing outside the Springvale development site in Chapelizod which is two minutes walk from where I live. We now know that that rapid-build development, which was promised in 2018, is not going to be delivered until 2023 to 2024. Rapid-build modular houses that have a lifespan of 60 years were meant to be delivered. There are problems on the Springvale site which means that the development will not be delivered until 2024. People should be sitting in those houses this winter. It is the same with the rapid-build developments on Bonham Street and Cork Street, which is right beside where I am from. In Dolphin's Barn we saw the first phase of the regeneration redevelopment in 2018, but by 2028 only 44 houses will be delivered. The plans for the first cost-rental development, on Emmet Road in Inchicore, have just been submitted. Potentially, we are looking at the first phase of people moving in in 2026-28 - we just do not know. It has taken six years for the plans to be submitted.
While the Government might laud Housing for All and say commencements and building are up, there is fundamentally a mismatch at the heart of the policy. That is because Housing for All is relying on the private sector to deliver what is a fundamental social need. We would not have the numbers of people entering homeless accommodation if we had not outsourced our social housing need to the private sector and small landlords. It should not matter whether or not landlords are selling up regarding our homeless figures. The reason it matters is because the tenants are people who should be housed long term in the social housing system, and instead they are being housed by the private sector. The reason that we have delays in house building is because everything is in the private sector. We are trying to put together and look at the pieces of the puzzle for the private sector to respond or not respond. We do not rely on the private sector for health or education. We should not do the same for housing either.
The fundamental mismatch at the heart of Government housing policy is that we need to move the private sector along, and we need it to respond in order to deliver what should be a fundamental human need for citizens in our country. I welcome the progress made in Housing for All and I want Government housing policy to work because I do not like living in the midst of a housing crisis. I do not like living with people who have to survive in housing insecurity. As we can see, local authorities are not stepping up to the plate and increasing their involvement in delivery. Fundamentally, unless the State puts up not just the money but also increases its involvement in it, we will always move in and out of housing crises. While the introduction of cost rental is most welcome, countries that do not limp from housing crisis to housing crisis, such as Austria, for example, have always funded the state sector, whether it is through limited profit associations or local authorities. In Ireland, we tend to rely on the private sector. Unless we address that mismatch and treat it as a public service the same way we treat health and education, we will always be reliant on these shocks to the private sector.
I welcome the Minister of State to the House. Like my colleagues who spoke before me, I would love to see Housing for All work. I believe the housing crisis is probably the largest single failure of the modern Irish State. It is difficult to speak about it because it feels as if we are in a state of perpetual dysfunction. The debate in this House can sometimes feel a bit like a stage play that has been running for far too long. The exchanges between Government and us in opposition can feel repetitive, exhausted and increasingly embittered. It all feels out of touch and distant from the human tragedy of this crisis. We have to look at it and ask if the people languishing in homeless shelters or direct provision centres are tuning into this debate today.What about the children growing up in hotel rooms or the students commuting three hours each way to college because they cannot find or afford accommodation? What about the people in their 30s who are perhaps living in their childhood bedrooms or in shared housing that is bursting at the seams? They might be watching or they may be too busy mourning the adulthood they have been deprived of.
The housing crisis has a profound emotional and psychological impact on its victims. It strains family relationships, which are sometimes the only thing standing between adult children and homelessness. It creates pervasive feelings of shame, humiliation, and failure. Adults stuck living with their parents are grateful for the support they receive, but they are acutely aware of the privacy, autonomy and freedom they are being deprived of. It negatively impacts their social, sexual and romantic lives. There are so many people who work incredibly hard and who are conscientious and responsible for whom home ownership is totally out of reach. It creates a sense of defeat and futility that is incredibly distressing. Many of the talented young people emigrating from this country every day are not doing so because of an insatiable appetite to travel the world. They are leaving with great sadness and regret because the dysfunctional Irish housing market makes it impossible for them to imagine living their lives here. It is so sad. They leave behind families and friends who miss them terribly. They are being exiled from their homes due to the compounded failures of successive governments. I was thinking about those failures when I saw photos of Brazilian citizens living in Ireland lining up to vote in their presidential election a week and a half ago. It seems only fair that Irish emigrants around the world are given the right to vote, in particular when the policies enacted in this House directly impact their ability to come home and build lives for themselves here.
As a member of the Joint Committee on Health and the Chair of the Joint Sub-Committee on Mental Health, I cannot count the number of times I have heard from witnesses about their staffing shortages. There are many reasons for the shortages, but a critical lack of affordable housing is a major contributor to the problem. It is also driving the shortage of teachers. Ireland produces many qualified and talented researchers, teachers, nurses, doctors and other health and social care professionals and we are losing them in droves. In their absence, our ability to care for the old and sick, to support the mentally ill and to educate young people is critically undermined. The housing crisis does not just impact on people on low incomes and young renters but also generates broader labour market and social dysfunction that spills out and impacts us all.
One strand of the Housing for All strategy is making housing more accessible and affordable. When assessing whether the Government is meeting that aim, I thought about two recent developments. First, a recently released ESRI report estimated that Irish house prices are overvalued by 7%. This elicited a warning from developers who claimed that if house prices fell at all, new builds would no longer be profitable for them and they would cease construction. That is a very shocking announcement. All this time we have been told to believe the Government line that an adequate supply would make house prices fall, but all along, it has been an open secret that developers have no intention of letting the prices fall because it would hurt their profits. Presumably, if prices did start to fall, they would make a concerted effort to obstruct supply until prices increase again.
Second, the Central Bank relaxed its mortgage lending rules at the same time as the ECB raised interest rates, so now people can take on more debt but they will have to pay even more interest on the larger debt. The Central Bank report pointed out that a 2 percentage point interest rate hike could lead to households spending up to 40% of their monthly take-home pay on mortgage repayments under the new lending rules. That is unsustainable. We have two stories there: one that says house prices cannot fall, and another that says people may now be taking on so much debt to afford the overpriced housing that they will not be able to pay it back. In fact, all the extra debt that is available will push up house prices even more. Housing for All's reliance on the private developers is a fatal flaw as they are unwilling or unable to resolve this crisis.
I grew up in Charlemont Street tenement houses. Throughout my childhood I remember my neighbours leaving to relocate to the new local authority estates being built and expanded in Crumlin and Drimnagh, which was then on the outskirts of the city. These communities became the backbone of this city and produced some of its best and brightest. They are some of the greatest achievements of the Irish State in its 100-year history. The construction of large local authority estates allowed thousands to escape the horrendous conditions of tenement living. They improved health outcomes, created greater educational and professional mobility and they gave some of the hardest working people in the history of this country a chance to grow and thrive. It was a post-colonial triumph: a poor backward State marshalling its resources to provide for its people and to undo some of the criminal neglect and cruelty of the colonial occupation that had come before. Much of this work was Fianna Fáil's doing. It was fantastic work. It was the State-building project of a republican government. In 2022, I find myself asking what happened. What happened to the party that built Ireland's local authority housing and lifted people out of poverty? What happened to the party that my family, like most working-class families in Dublin, voted for? I believe the housing crisis is the result of a failed economic orthodoxy and the neoliberal ideology shared by all the parties in government. They are treating housing as an investment vehicle to enrich the wealthy rather than as a human right and an essential social good. This State responsibility has had disastrous consequences which reverberate through the lives of ordinary people. The status quohas failed. There is an alternative. I hope the Government will change course soon and that we can begin to repair the damage done.
I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Noonan, to the Chamber for another debate on housing. I am delighted to have the opportunity to discuss housing, and more particularly Housing for All. When we mention figures and data from a Government point of view, they are factual, accurate and realistic, unlike those of the major Opposition party, whose policy would not stand up to any scrutiny. Its policy is composed of slogans with no depth at all. We must take a quick look back at what has been achieved since the publication of Housing for All. Some critical pieces of legislation were passed prior to it, which underpin the delivery of housing under the Housing for All strategy. In the previous Dáil, we had the heads of the Bill to set up the Land Development Agency. At the time, many of us in the House had major reservations about it, but by the time it was adopted in this Dáil, the Bill was completely and utterly unrecognisable from the heads of the Bill that were first introduced. The key component of it is to deliver public housing on public land, specifically in cities where almost 100% of public land will be used for public housing - social, affordable and cost rental.
We delivered the most comprehensive piece of affordable housing legislation in the history of the State. It had four key elements in it: the increase in the Part V back to 20%; the new shared equity scheme; the local authority affordable housing scheme; and the cost rental element. For the first time, the Minister secured a multi-annual capital budget of €4 billion per annum. That was never done before. Housing for All was published with the intention of delivering 300,000 houses, including 90,000 social houses. I accept they will be delivered through a different mechanism to how they were previously delivered, but we will be delivering 90,000 social houses and 54,000 affordable and cost rental houses. It is the largest State intervention in the housing market in history. We are intervening to the extent that every second home built in Ireland today will be built as a result of State intervention.
Let us look at what Sinn Féin's recent housing budget was going to do. Senator Warfield mentioned the downturn in homeownership. We had better not put Sinn Féin in or nobody will own a home. Sinn Féin would scrap the first home scheme. The first home shared equity scheme would be scrapped. Croí Cónaithe would be scrapped. Any measure that was to be put in place to help people own their own home was going to be scrapped by Sinn Féin. The party is going to remove the four-stage process for the delivery of social housing and get local authorities to build housing directly, and Sinn Féin is going to do it by 2023.They are going to build more houses with less money. Somebody tell me when a local authority last directly built a local authority housing scheme. Sinn Féin is magically going to do it overnight.
The other one I have real fun with is every time Deputy John Brady is on the radio saying that Sinn Féin is going to build real houses. My God - Sinn Féin is going to build real houses. What about the 24,600 houses we have built this year? Do they not have windows and doors, kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms? Are there not 24,600 families living in them? There are. What does Sinn Féin mean by its slogan to the effect that it will build real housing?
These are the things we must take into account when we look at Housing for All. We are seeing increases in housing delivery, planning applications and commencements on a sustainable basis. Housing for All is working. We are gradually building sustainable growth within that policy. It must be maintained and be kept in place. I would take this sustainable growth any day ahead of Sinn Féin's school of house building headed up by the wizard that is Deputy Ó Broin.
I thank the Minister of State for coming before the House. It is very good to see the progress being made. In the area in which I live, I see progress on the ground. I see houses being built. There are 40 local authority housing units being built at a turnkey development. Galway County Council took that project on. I live in an area where there is a huge demand for housing and for rental properties, which cannot be found anywhere at the moment. We are in dire need. The challenges we face particularly relate to HAP. The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage has looked at options in the context of supporting families benefiting from HAP. The social housing thresholds in County Galway have increased from €25,000 to €30,000. This is a welcome development. It is probably overdue because it was needed. I welcome that five counties have seen that change in the income thresholds for social housing. The increase means that we are going to see more people coming onto the housing waiting lists but it is much needed because of the cost of rent and everything else. So many families are dealing with receiving HAP and then paying the difference basically for renting homes.
It is absolutely crucial that building happens. We are seeing local authority and social housing being built, but we also need to see a mix of affordable housing and housing for first-time buyers. As Senator Casey mentioned, the first home scheme is absolutely crucial, as are the help-to-buy and Croí Cónaithe schemes. There schemes are particularly focused in rural and regional areas where there are many vacant properties. Dublin city centre may not face the same level of vacancy. The turnover is so fast but rural areas face a situation where many properties are left abandoned for a variety of different reasons. What we want is a thriving property market in rural areas. That means looking at all types of properties and bringing those that are vacant back into use. I would like to see more supports for the Croí Cónaithe scheme. I would also like the scheme to be expanded. It has already been moved out of the town centres to include many adjoining areas. That is a good and positive move forward. It is absolutely crucial to support first home buyers, particularly if they are going to make the houses they purchase their principal residences.
We are trying to get homes to the B2 rating recommended by the Sustainable Energy Authority Of Ireland by means of retrofitting. There are many supports available, but there is major expense involved. How do we combine all of the programmes relating to retrofitting, the warmer homes scheme, the one-stop shop, and the first home and help-to-buy schemes in order to support first-time buyers?
I am very happy with the rental credit introduced by the Government in the budget in respect of people who are renting. To be clear, the rental credit is for this year, 2022, and next year, 2023.
I mentioned Croí Cónaithe and the first-time buyers scheme. I want to see supports for local authorities. The Minister has brought in housing teams that are allocated to local housing authorities to support them in delivering the strategies relating to Housing for All. Support is needed, particularly in the context of shared equity, the first home scheme and the shared equity programme with local authorities. A person who is living in their home will have access to a shared equity option from the local authority. This will only be returned when the person sells their home or when it is no longer their principal residence. It is a fantastic opportunity for people to get onto the property ladder, but we need supports for the local authorities.
Galway County Council is among the least funded local authorities. It is obliged to deal with - in geographic terms - the second largest area in the country. Along with having thousands of miles of road to maintain, we need to look at the provision of additional houses. This comes back to Croí Cónaithe, vacancy and dereliction and how we support families to be able to get onto the property ladder. Go raibh míle maith agat. I thank the Minister of State for his time.
I welcome the Minister of State. I thank him, the Minister of State, Deputy Peter Burke and the Minister for the work they have done since coming to office. We can talk until the cows come home about this matter. Those in opposition can criticise us and we have a go at them, but there is a reality to the discussion of Housing for All. Facts speak louder than anything else. It is very difficult to listen to some of the Trump-speak coming from the Opposition. There seems to be a policy to the effect that if they keep talking down Housing for All, people will actually believe what they are saying. The reality is that the delivery on the ground is being seen. I understand the frustrations, and we hope to facilitate much more in the years to come.
If you sit back and look at the enormity of the reform of legislation and policy coming from the Custom House, it is completely unprecedented. Never has there been such an overhaul of policy relating to housing, water and sewerage issues across the country and problems with mica in Donegal and other counties. The reform has been astronomical in scope and is extremely welcome. The major reforms in planning laws and guidelines under the national planning framework, includes: the overall and review that is taking place of An Bord Pleanála; the streamlining of county development plans; regional and spatial economic strategies proposing to extend the lifetime of county development plans to ten years - with built-in reviews; the proposed streamlining of a planning consent process, with specific timelines for decisions; and the schemes introduced by the Minister to resolve the issues in towns across the country where planning was being stopped because of sewage issues. All of these deal with real issues in respect of which there have been barriers.
I listened to the some of those in opposition talking about local authorities. Our local authorities were taken out of the equation for nearly ten years. That is a big part of the reason we are where we are today. I take issue with what Senator Moynihan said regarding local authorities. If local authorities do not deliver housing, we cannot get to where we need to go. That is the reality. Anybody who says otherwise does not really know what they are talking about. I say that with the greatest respect. Our local authorities were key to delivery in past decades, a matter to which Senator Black referred. We are now rebuilding what was lost in that regard. Housing for All has been in place for 14 months and our targets are being met. We will probably exceed them this year. That is a massive turnaround, but I have not heard any proposition here that will lead to anything better. I have heard no propositions at all. What is coming from the Opposition is absolute nonsense. The reforms that have been made are the only show in town.
On regulation in respect of pyrite, this is a matter that the Minister is proposing to tackle in the year ahead. That is very welcome because this issue is completely pertinent in the context of my county, Donegal. The Minister put time and effort into dealing with the mica issue. It is a massively complex issue and we hope to see those regulations put into being and a scheme up and running in the next few weeks. People in Donegal are waiting for that. There was a lot of talk in recent months about foundations. Many of these houses need refurbishment or demolition. It is funny that we have yet to identify a foundation in Donegal that has the problems that some in the Opposition claim they had. Claims were made by scientists and others who were asked to pass on the information about these foundations in Donegal to help with the review of IS465. It has still not appeared. These scientists are great on a certain given day but when they go blazing off in the sun and neither they nor their data can be seen again, it is a poor reflection on them and those that portrayed their agenda. We look forward to the resolution of all these issues. County councillors in Donegal are working closely with management to ensure Donegal meets its targets, and I hope all politicians are doing the same in their respective counties.
I wish the Minister of State well in his endeavours.
It is good to see the Minister of State. I do not know where to start as some extraordinary contributions have been made. I will try to deal with those and then suggest some positive contributions from our side. It is a pity Senator Cummins is not here. His speech was quite extraordinary. He spoke of the strong foundations laid by the previous Government. I do not know whether Senator Cummins is considering a career in stand-up comedy but he certainly has the lines to make a good start.
What we need from Fine Gael is an acknowledgement it has been in power for 12 years. The housing crisis happened entirely under its watch. It is not a natural disaster nor is it like an earthquake or a hurricane. It is a direct result of failed Government policies under the direction of Fine Gael for 12 years. It would be good if just once we would hear someone from Fine Gael acknowledge that it has failed the people fundamentally and that is why we have a housing crisis today. That is a fact. That is why 10,800 people are homeless. It is why 3,000 children are homeless. It can be tracked back to ideological thought on Fine Gael's part, to neoliberalism, where the party decided to stop building houses, to outsource it to the private sector and to use RAS and HAP. What did that do? It crowded out the marketplace, which means that today people cannot afford to buy houses because Fine Gael has driven the prices up with its failed policies. Not once have I heard anyone from Fine Gael hold their hand up and say they are responsible as they have been in government all this time. It is not an accident. It is bad policy design consistently put in place by Fine Gael.
My friend Senator Casey always makes a colourful contribution but I must point a few things out to him. The first is that the Government is not delivering on its target. I ask the Minister of State to give a straight answer on this when he responds. How many social houses will the Government build this year? The Minister, Deputy O'Brien, could not tell us last week. Strangely, the Minister of State, Deputy Burke, was in the House three weeks ago and he insisted - he said he wanted to correct the record - that the Government will meet its targets on social housing. Funnily enough, the Minister, Deputy McGrath, stated last week that the Government will not meet those targets. Will the Minister of State provide some clarity on that, please, because we know the Government will not meet the targets?
There was a devastating critique in thejournal.ieyesterday that compared Department data with the Revised Estimates. It showed major gaps between how money was spent as of the start of October and annual targets. This speaks directly to the false claim that the Government will spend €4 billion on housing. It has not happened this year. It will not happen this year. Let us go through the figures we have. A total of €568 millionwas spent on local authority and approved housing body new builds and acquisitions. That is approximately 37% of the €1.53 billion budgeted for the year. The capital advance and leasing facility, CALF, spent €95.25 million. That is approximately 31% of the targeted budget. The capital assistance scheme, CAS, spent €59.66 million, which is about 62% of the targeted budget. The cost rental equity loan programme spent €22.6 million, which is approximately 32% of its €70 million budget. The affordable housing scheme had only spent €1 million at the beginning of October, which is less than 2% of its €60 million budget. The figures are available. They are the Government's own figures and they tell us it will reach nowhere near the €4 billion it tells us it will spend this year. Here is the problem. The Government will not reach its targets and its targets were not high enough in the first place. The Government's think-tank, the Economic and Social Research Institute, ESRI, told the Government it was spending only half of what is required to tackle the housing crisis. It is failing on both counts.
In the short time available I will make a few key points, if I may. Local authorities have a big issue with caps. There is not enough flexibility. I will give a concrete example. In Limerick, the cap on buying a one-bedroom apartment is €150,000. The councils cannot acquire apartments because they cost €220,000. The caps are not in tune with the marketplace. Similarly, for two and three bedroom apartments the caps are not enough, especially when the housing needs to be reconfigured, for example, for people with disabilities. The Government needs to look at those caps urgently.
It needs to lift the income thresholds. This is bizarre. The Minister, Deputy O'Brien, had a report on his desk last December. Now he is undertaking a scoping exercise. The Government is already halfway through its term. At what point will it address the fact that thousands of families are completely excluded from housing by these limits the Government still has not reviewed and revised?
The final point I will make is that planning and red tape are issues of concern. It should not take 12 months to go through a four-stage planning process. It frequently takes longer than that and, again, the Government is in power for the past two years and has done nothing to tackle that. On so many grounds, this Government is failing people. The facts, and people know the facts, are that house buying and renting are becoming exorbitant to the point where people are looking to leave the country. That is the legacy of this Government.
The Minister of State is welcome to this important debate. I acknowledge all the contributions. There has been a lot of talk although I am not sure there have been a lot of solutions from the Opposition. We can all name and describe the problem, but solutions are in short supply.
In response to Senator Gavan's point, and I have said this before in this House in response to others, but I will say it now in response to him, in 2011, when we entered Government and I was a Member of the other House, if we had a debate on housing, we were talking about things such as bust banks, bust developers, negative equity, ghost estates and the IMF being in charge of the country.
It was not from yourselves, and I did not say it was, but please appreciate the legacy we had to deal with at that stage with unemployment at whatever rate it was at - 15%, 16% or 17%. The challenges we faced were immense. Did we get everything right? I am not saying we did, but certainly we are not responsible for everything that is wrong or has been wrong in housing in recent years. We had a lot to deal with.
In the four and a half years between the time the Rebuilding Ireland plan was launched in the summer of 2016 up to the election, more than 83,500 new homes were built. Fine Gael in government passed new legislation regarding rent pressure zones, RPZs, and more power to the Residential Tenancies Board, RTB. The help to buy scheme that was highlighted by Senator Cummins has been a major success. More than 36,000 first-time buyers have benefited from the scheme the Senators want to get rid of. The Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme, which has been renamed the local authority home loan scheme, provides home loans to people, and 1,640 first-time buyers benefited in that period. In addition, schemes such as the urban regeneration and development fund, URDF, have assisted. For example the new town of Clonburris in Dublin, which will provide 8,700 new homes, has received €186,000 from that initiative which came about under Fine Gael. There have been many successes in this and Housing for All is an excellent plan. It carries on many of the initiatives that were included under the Rebuilding Ireland plan. Many of the projects that have been delivered and are now open or are having their tapes cut, as it were, were initiatives under Rebuilding Ireland. I have visited some of them. Some are ongoing and it is hoped some will be opened by the Minister or a Minister within those areas as well.
As someone who has fully supported unpopular social housing developments in communities, I take exception to this ideological bullshit that I hear about Fine Gael.
I put my neck on the line in 2019 and 2020 to support social housing, so I will not take any rubbish from anyone regarding ideological issues.I fully support people. I have said on numerous occasions that all communities should have an element of social housing for people. There are thousands of people across this country who will never be able to afford their own home. I do not believe in long-term renting. It would be okay if there was secure long-term renting but I have come across people in their 60s, coming into retirement and coming up to pension age who have not got security of tenure in this stage of their lives and are looking to get onto the social housing lists. Council housing or social housing is absolutely imperative. We could have all of the debates in relation to numbers, sizes and whether it should be mixed or whatever else but social housing is an important part of the fabric of this country. I do not buy this ideological stuff. There are people in low-paid jobs, whether they be in retail or hospitality, who, if they continue on lower-paid jobs throughout their lives, will never be able to afford a house. It is important that social housing is provided. I will defend the right to and the need for social housing at any stage, to anybody.
If the Minister of State, Deputy Noonan, was to ask every Senator and every Deputy to provide a silver bullet or some initiative, one that many small builders have said to me on many occasions is equity. It is about the finance to build the housing estates initially. Prior to this, builders had worked on the basis that if they built a housing estate, they would get the profits from that and then reinvest into the next estate. Many builders went bust and they may now be unable to secure the level of finance to build that first estate, to get the profits to reinvest in the next estate. I am talking about the smaller builders who might build ten, 15 or 20 houses in an estate in a small town or village in rural Ireland. Perhaps this is something that could be considered.
The Minister of State, Deputy Noonan, is very welcome to the House. I acknowledge the Minister of State's endeavours are genuine and I commend him on the work that he does. It is important to point out that nearly 100,000 houses have been built since 2011. That is a fairly significant number. Absolutely it is not enough. Clearly it is not enough but it is 100,000 families and people who are now in a home, many of which are social houses. The Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, visited Clare two weeks ago, where he opened four beautiful state-of-the-art housing developments across the county: one each in Miltown Malbay and Tulla, and two in Ennis. These will accommodate 119 families. It is not correct to say that nothing is being done. It is absolutely correct, however, to say that not enough being done
It is also important to point out that people have been assisted in building houses, with 36,000 in receipt of the Rebuilding Ireland grant and 1,600 being assisted through the new scheme with the local authorities. These are very important incremental steps in the right direction. Yes, the targets are ambitious. They probably should be more ambitious but we must be realistic as well and we have to be able to deliver as close as possible to the targets. Unfortunately, we are looking at a situation in Ireland, which is not uncommon throughout the world, where construction inflation is at a significantly high level. It is an awful lot dearer now to build a house compared to even five or ten years ago. It is not just the private sector that is grappling with these costs in providing accommodation; the public sector and the State is also facing this issue.
I want to see more done in villages and in towns. We must be realistic. There are pubs in villages and towns throughout Ireland that are closed and will not reopen. Drapery shops, shoe shops and other retail units are closed and will not reopen. In the streets of many of our capital towns, it is pitiful to see the number of empty buildings that are there and have been there for years. I believe we need to bite the bullet, realise they are not going to be a profitable or sustainable retail offering any more and provide the necessary supports to turn them into accommodation. Similarly, there are shops all over the country with empty spaces upstairs that remain empty because of the very tight regulations, some of which are necessary and some I quite frankly believe to be over the top. Many hundreds of thousands of families in this country grew up and were raised over shops. I cannot see why there cannot be incentives to encourage people who have retail space on the ground floor to turn the upstairs into accommodation. This needs to be looked at.
Public representatives also have a responsibility. Senator Kyne referred to this. I remember the hassle that Senator Kyne got by refusing to object to social housing in his constituency. I suffered the same when I was a councillor because I refused point blank to object to social housing. I have been a public representative for 18 years, between the local authority and the Seanad, and to this day I have never once objected to a housing development. I do not expect that I ever will, because we need houses. Public representatives need to stand up and show leadership and say they will not object to the building of homes for people simply because it is politically expedient to do so. It is wrong to do so. We have the local authorities and we have a planning appeals process. As flawed as elements of that may be, it is better to let them adjudicate on whether it is appropriate or right for a housing development to happen, as opposed to public representatives, be they councillors or Members of the Oireachtas, deciding to object because they are being hauled before a public meeting and it is the popular thing to do.
I call on all colleagues to take a step backwards, to show leadership, to stop objecting to planning applications for large-scale housing developments, and particularly social housing developments, and to let the local authority planning offices actually do their job.
I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Noonan, to the House. I thank the Minister of State for being here for the debate tonight on housing. I commend the Minister and the Ministers of State in the Department on their work on housing. I also put on record my appreciation of the previous Minister, Eoghan Murphy, who was a very good Minister in an extraordinarily difficult time. In many ways, the developments being opened today were planned, commenced and begun in his time. I also commend my colleague, the environmental spokesperson in the Seanad on the Fine Gael side, Senator Cummins, on his endeavour, commitment, and work, as well as his mastery of the brief. If I heard Senator Gavan correctly, he called him a comedian. Then Senator Gavan must be a magician performing a three-card trick, because his party's record up North is different to that down here and their record in local authorities across the country is extraordinary. I will tell Senator one thing; they will not bluff the people any more. It is unlike the old days when the three-card trick lads were going to matches or fairs. This is far too serious to be coming in here and making remarks about comedians.
The housing issue is a generational issue. It was faced back in the 1960s. We faced it with the National Building Agency, NBA, developments. We faced it in the 1970s and we will face it again into the 2000s. Let us not pretend that we do not have an issue. There are people today who are suffering and who are not where they should be. Collectively, our job is to ensure that those people are in adequate, proper, and suitable accommodation. The key words are "housing for all". In my office and in my work I do not differentiate any person. The person coming into me who is looking for a social house, an affordable house or help with a mortgage to buy is the exact same. To be clear, this is the Fine Gael record. We are not the ogres being painted by some. The proof of that is in the budgets over many years, where we increased the budget.Thankfully, because of the prudence of Fine Gael in government and now with our partners in the Green Party and Fianna Fáil, we have a budget for housing that will deliver and can deliver. However it is about time we got away from the cynical sound bite of some who think they can do a three-card trick and procure housing and houses. Then there is this thing of how we are pro-landlord, pro-developer and pro-vulture fund; we are not. We are pro-housing people. Let us not stigmatise and demarcate people in this House or in our politics. We have enough of that in other parts of the world where we are creating them and those or those who have and those who do not have. What I want to see happen is that the action plan is developed in order that we can see the Land Development Agency deliver and can see local authorities, in partnership with Government, procuring, building, and housing people. That is why I want to see this Government succeed. It is not because of a political motivation but because we all know friends, family members, relations, neighbours and fellow workers who are struggling with rent or getting mortgages or being able to get on to the housing ladder. That is why tonight's debate is important.
We need also to look at how we can tackle the revitalisation and regeneration of cities and towns. I would love for the Ministers to come to Cork city and look at some of the derelict properties and vacant sites and the living over the shop scheme and how we can for example incentivise the likes of Barrack Street or North Main Street in Cork. I accept there is a myriad of reasons properties lie idle and are in dereliction. To be fair to people like Frank O'Connor in Cork who is highlighting issues and with whom I may disagree with on some points but agree on others, we need to look in a holistic way at how we can ensure we regenerate and revitalise our cities. I know we had the urban regeneration fund in Cork but there is more to Cork than the docklands. It is an important flagship project but I am a Corkonian, I love my city and I see Cork being the island as well, more than just the docklands. If the Minister of State is familiar with Cork, he will get my drift.
To conclude, we have a challenge to meet and there is an obligation on all of us to do so. Yes, the people can judge us politically on that but let us not tell the people that nothing is happening. Things are happening. If we wanted a political debate - and we are in a political chamber - let us compare and contrast with the record of my colleagues in Sinn Féin in the North in particular and the way in which they have been in government. I accept power-sharing has stalled but they are still there and I would like to have an honest debate on that. I thank the Minister of State for being here. I have great admiration for him for doing a good, quiet job in a very strong way in his Department, as are the other Ministers, the Minister of State, Deputy Peter Burke, and the Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, and I thank them for that. This is a generational issue and we would be neglecting our duty if we did not prioritise it, as we have done through our budgets and our actions. I know we have a lot to do and I accept that but I thank them for the debate and thank the Acting Chair for letting me speak.
I thank Senator Buttimer. The Minister of State may be aware of this and I want to let Senator Buttimer know there is an rural development fund, RDF, of €50 million that local authorities can apply for through Europe. It is called innovative actions and local authorities can apply for that in respect of urban spaces within large cities and large towns. I call the Minister of State.
I thank all the Senators for their contributions, notwithstanding some unparliamentary language. I will make a general comment on the points raised by Senators before I sum up. On the general comment made by Senator Buttimer in his closing speech, I do not think we will get anywhere by revisionism or the blame game and it is critically important we work collectively to try to achieve these targets. There is a crisis and it is a crisis we can resolve together. That type of negative criticism, which is unwarranted in some cases, will not build a single house. It is important we work together in a constructive way, although where constructive criticism is required that is by all means absolutely warranted.
On Senator Cummins's points on constraints, he is correct that the indicators are going in the right direction. Issues he has raised consistently around vacancy and dereliction are being addressed through Croí Cónaithe, town centre first and other schemes. The Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, has been particularly strong on tackling voids. As for the two points he raised about Limerick City and County Council on compulsory purchase orders, CPOs, I have had a comprehensive visit to Limerick city to look at the work and I would be happy to visit Cork in a similar manner to look at some of the dereliction and how they are using the CPO process very proactively. There is excellent work being done there and similarly in Waterford on repair and lease. That has been also raised by other Senators.
Income thresholds are being addressed by the Minister. Five counties have been dealt with but the Minister will have a report on that issue furnished to him shortly by the Housing Agency. The issue of homeownership was also raised and we also take the points raised on the shared equity scheme on board.
Senator Keogan raised the uncapped number of refugees and the Government has been forthright in saying we are not going to restrict numbers. There is a war in Ukraine and people are fleeing absolute terror and horror there and that is critically important. There are still options to house people and we need to be as generous as we possibly can be. We will achieve our targets and will exceed targets around Croí Cónaithe and repair and lease.
I thank Senator Fitzpatrick for her comments on tackling homelessness and housing in general. She also mentioned the decade of undersupply. I welcome the comments regarding protection for renters under the Residential Tenancies (Deferment of Termination Dates of Certain Tenancies) Act 2022, which we dealt with just before the break. Senator Warfield raised issues of homelessness and homeownership numbers, which we would dispute, as I think homeownership numbers are going in the right direction. I thank Senator Moynihan for the positives around Housing for All. Undoubtedly there are challenges but I welcome Opposition comments on that. Senator Black focused on the psychological trauma caused by the housing crisis and she is correct. There is no doubt it is having an impact on relationships, on children, and on families and we are mindful of that. We are conscious of that and I think that she mentioned the point on leadership and I reiterate the point about leadership across the Houses. The right to vote for the diaspora was mentioned in relation to Brazilians and it is fantastic to see them vote here. Should a referendum be passed, we will extend the franchise for presidential elections and it is something the Electoral Commission will give consideration to and it is important we do that.
I fundamentally disagree about the Government's overreliance on the private market. The point had been made regarding a significant upturn in social and affordable housing that is being built by the Irish State. It is not a neoliberal agenda or ideology of Government and we all want to achieve the same objectives. Senator Casey raised Housing for All as regards public housing and public land and that is what it sets out to do. It was important to see the return back to 20% of Part V provision being brought forward. Senator Dolan raised HAP thresholds in Galway and we will look at those issues also. On rent credits and support for local authority housing and planning teams the Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, has put additional staff into local authorities recognising that there is an increased demand on their needs and has put those supports in place. Senator Blaney referenced the national planning framework and local authorities. Senator Gavan made some negative comments, which I have addressed and again, a blame game at this stage simply will not address the issues we have to raise. I welcome Senator Kyne's comments in terms of social housing and those of Senator Conway about not objecting to social housing. I grew up in a fantastic local authority scheme with a large family and I think it is critically important that we as public representatives are responsible in supporting social housing provision across the country. I also thank Senator Buttimer for his comments and I acknowledge the work of previous Ministers such as former Minister, Eoghan Murphy.
I will move on to my closing speech if that is okay.
Many things have changed in the 14 months since the initial launch of Housing for All.A lot of these changes were anticipated but a number have arisen that were not and some of these could not be fully predicted with the level of inflation and the extent of supply chain issues being two such examples. Again, these issues have been raised by some Senators here this evening.
Like all good plans, Housing for All is a living document by design. The Government's commitment to review and update the plan on a yearly basis ensures that it will remain relevant and is flexible enough to respond to whatever issues may arise.
The first annual review of Housing for All was published last week. We have used the opportunity to bring to the forefront a number of priority actions that will directly support supply. A considerable amount of work has gone into the review process identifying blockages to supply that have arisen since the publication of the plan and setting out how to address them. The focus on a number of priority actions will ensure that the Department and the Government as a whole remain dedicated to achieving the plan to provide well built, sustainable and affordable homes for all.
Although many things have changed our commitment to ending the housing crisis has not. We will provide 90,000 social homes and 54,000 affordable purchase and cost-rental homes over the lifetime of Housing for All. The 2021 summary of social housing assessment showed that there were 59,247 households assessed as being qualified for and in need of social housing support, a 4.3% decrease on the social waiting list in 2020 and a 35.3% decrease in the social housing waiting list since 2016. Progress is being made and official figures show that we are helping more and more of those who need it most.
I reiterate the point that I made earlier. The Minister has given clear direction to local authorities so that where a family or an individual is at risk of being evicted into homelessness as a result of a landlord selling the home then the local authority will be supported by his Department to purchase the home should that be appropriate. This, and the winter eviction ban, are proof that when it comes to the extremely pressing issues that are prevalent in terms of eradicating homelessness then all options will be considered. The plan is ambitious but, importantly, it is working as we speak. The evidence is in the number of homes that are being built. We are actively delivering Housing for All and the whole-of-government approach shows how deeply committed we are to solving this crisis. We are reviewing, reforming and improving almost every aspect of the housing system and everyone involved is doing their utmost to fix the crisis.
As further evidence of our determination to solve the crisis we are taking action in response to the ongoing accommodation shortage in the private rental sector, particularly in areas of highest housing demand. We have introduced new arrangements for short-term letting that are aimed at strengthening the pre-existing regulatory controls in this area and have been legislated for. The new arrangements will provide that for a period of six months non-principal private residences in rent pressure zones shall not be advertised or accept bookings on online platforms or other media for short-term letting purposes unless they have the necessary planning permission in place.
We are not just reviewing the wider housing system to ensure that our targets are met. We are also reviewing the targets themselves to ensure that they accurately reflect the growth in population. The 33,000 average annual target was informed by the housing need and demand assessment, HNDA, tool and framework, which forecasts future housing need based on a number of assumptions and conditions. There is a commitment to review the targets used in the HNDA tool having regard to the official census of 2022, the results of which are due for publication in mid-2023. This review will examine the appropriateness of the existing assumptions and targets underpinning Housing for All and the extent to which these should be revised. The outcome of this work will enable the Government to refresh both the overall national housing targets and the subsets of social, affordable and market delivery having regard to the progress already made to ensure overall housing need is met in line with the original vision for Housing for All. This review of the HNDA tool and framework will commence in quarter 2 of 2023.
Addressing vacancy and dereliction, which have been referenced by many Senators, is also a pressing concern for Government. Numerous steps have already been taken to tackle the problem around the country. According to the most recent property tax returns just over 57,000 homes were classified as vacant so a little over 3% of the total housing stock. The Government has taken numerous measures to ensure that this figure is reduced. Local authorities are already delivering the recently launched Croí Cónaithe town scheme, which provides grants to support people refurbishing vacant properties. This will encourage people to live in our small towns and villages in a sustainable way. The Minister recently announced the ready to build scheme as part of the Croí Cónaithe towns fund. The scheme will see local authorities make serviced sites available in towns and villages across the country at discounted rates for buyers who wish to build their own home. The Government launched the Town Centre First policy in February of this year, which aims to tackle vacancy, combat dereliction and breathe new life into town centres. Vacant homes officers will play a key role in each local authority and will assist prospective applicants with their vacancy-related queries. My Department is continuing to work on the revised compulsory purchase order, CPO, programme that will see local authorities purchase thousands of vacant homes for sale in their local area. The team is also working on a vacancy strategy that will further empower our tackling of vacancy and dereliction all over the country. Again, this matter was referenced by Senator Conway and other Senators.
Although the plan is a plan for now it is also a plan for the future. To ensure that supply ramps up to a scale we need to deliver on Housing for All's ambition. We must increase the number of people employed by as well as the productivity of the construction industry. These long-term policies will result in a sustained level of housing output. The Tánaiste announced last summer funding of €5 million over a five-year period for the establishment of a construction technology centre to accelerate research and innovation within the construction and built environment sector. The construction technology centre will be hosted by the University of Galway and a consortium that includes some of out top universities working with the Irish Green Building Council. The new construction technology centre will also prioritise residential construction through a number of initiatives such as putting in place structures and funding to enable innovation, and promote, develop and support innovation such as modern methods of construction, and support SMEs to develop scale and adopt modern methods of construction, MMC, for residential construction. It will also support digitisation in the manufacturing sector for residential construction. Furthermore, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, supported by my Department, has established a modern methods of construction leadership and integration group. This group will support the development of MMC to ensure its adoption and improve innovation in the construction industry with a particular focus on residential construction. The construction sector group, facilitated by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, has appointed a consultant to carry out an analysis of each component of the cost of construction of house and apartment developments. This is being done with a view to reducing costs, including the cost of compliance and increasing standardisation. It will also identify opportunities for cost reduction for consideration by relevant Departments and industry.
Although the publication of the updated action plan is the perfect time to look back at where we came from we never stop looking forward. The foundations that have been laid during the first year of Housing for All have set us up for success and we will see the full effect of our affordability schemes as they build and maintain momentum. We will also see the widespread delivery of cost rental, which is a true game changer for the rental market. We will further tackle vacancy and dereliction, and bring thousands of homes back on to the market through Croí Cónaithe, repair and lease and our voids programme. Perhaps most importantly of all we will continue to implement, review and alter the plan as required. We know what has to be done, we know we have to do it and we will not stop until we have successfully and sustainably provided housing for all.