Thursday, 1 April 2021
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
Local Authority Housing
134. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if it will be necessary to invoke emergency housing procedures in order to assure the rapid delivery of direct build local authority houses on public lands in the shortest possible timescale; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17654/21]
The delivery of housing supports is a key priority of Government and this is reflected in the Programme for Government commitment to increase the social housing stock nationally by more than 50,000, with a key emphasis on delivering new build homes.
The Government investment for the delivery of all housing programmes this year alone, is €3.3 billion and given the major focus on new build social homes, I have taken a number of measures to facilitate expedited delivery by local authorities and the Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs). In particular, in September 2020 I increased from €2 million to €6 million, the threshold within which local authorities can advance their proposals for new social housing construction projects, for funding confirmation by my Department via a single approval process.
As Minister, I have established a High Level Housing Delivery Group which meets regularly and includes key stakeholders from the local authorities, the Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs), the Housing Agency and the Housing Delivery Coordination Office (HDCO). This Group meets regularly to monitor and coordinate delivery of social housing programmes and to identify and address any systemic issues that could block or delay progress.
I have also enhanced the role of the HDCO to work with all local authorities on accelerating their social housing construction programmes, including the activation of existing sites and the acquisition and development of new sites. The restrictions on construction activity from 8th January last - following on from the 2020 restrictions - will have an unavoidable impact on the completion timelines for all housing construction, including public housing. However this week’s announcement of the phased easing of public health restrictions will now see all residential construction projects able to recommence from 12th April. I will be asking all local authorities to work with the construction sector to prioritise the earliest possible resumption of public housing projects, consistent with the public health guidelines.
The Government will be publishing a new housing strategy this year, which will set out details of social housing delivery out to 2025, including social housing targets for 2022 onwards. While local authorities already have social housing construction programmes in train, I am keen that they are proactive in adding to this pipeline and, working with the AHBs, in advancing their existing projects as speedily as possible with the assurance of the funding being available from my Department.
To provide transparency on the new social housing projects being advanced, my Department publishes a Social Housing Construction Status Report each quarter. These reports provide details of the social housing construction schemes completed and those in the pipeline for all local authority areas. The report for 2020 is available at the following link: . The publication of this information can also give Councillors and public representatives the opportunity to work with the local authority officials to press the advancement of these social housing delivery projects, in line with the 2021 delivery targets already in place and the multi-annual targets that we will be publishing with this year's new housing strategy.