Written answers

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

Local Authority Housing Waiting Lists

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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64. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government having regard to the more than 100,000 families currently on various local authority housing lists throughout the country, in some cases for up to ten years and the fact that such applicants, if unemployed have to rely on social welfare rent support which they forfeit if they take up employment, if he will consider a direct build of local authority housing to meet this requirement and thereby meeting the housing needs of applicants, a reduction in the cost of rent support, an employment disincentive and much needed employment in the construction sector with obvious resultant economic benefit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33652/13]

Photo of Jan O'SullivanJan O'Sullivan (Limerick City, Labour)
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The Government’s housing policy statement, published in June 2011, clearly identifies that the priority for Government will be to meet the most acute needs of households applying for social housing support. I am determined to ensure that the social housing programme optimises the delivery of social housing and the return for the resources invested. To achieve this, it is essential that we tailor the use of available Exchequer supports to prevailing conditions and explore the full range of solutions to address housing needs.

The financial parameters within which we will be operating for the coming years rule out a return to large capital funded construction programmes. The Government is committed to responding more quickly and on a larger scale to social housing support needs through a variety of mechanisms, including through increased provision of social housing. In July 2012 I announced details of a three-year funding programme of €100 million to deliver some 800 new units of voluntary and local authority owned social housing. I am monitoring expenditure under my Department’s housing programme for 2013, together with the level of contractual commitments extending into 2014, with a view to a decision later this year on approving some limited new construction and house purchases over the period to end 2014.

Delivery of social housing will be significantly facilitated through more flexible funding models such as the Rental Accommodation Scheme and leasing but the Government is also committed to developing other funding mechanisms that will increase the supply of permanent new social housing. Such mechanisms will include options to purchase, build to lease and the sourcing of loan finance by approved housing bodies for construction and acquisition. There is also obvious potential, across a range of housing programmes, for the Government’s objective of sourcing and providing suitable residential units for use as social housing to be aligned with the commercial objectives of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). My Department and the Housing Agency are engaged with NAMA to ensure delivery of housing units for social purposes. In spite of the current challenging circumstances, I expect the final outcome for 2012 to be in the region of 5,000 housing units, and it is provisionally estimated that in the region of 5,000 units will be provided for social housing in 2013.


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