Warning that the Government will miss social housing target

A shortage of workers means the Government will likely miss a key target to build new social homes next year, the group for surveyors has warned, writes Eamon Quinn.

The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) said tender costs are set to rise by 6.2% this year amid skills shortages and increases in building materials. And rising construction costs will “inevitably” be passed on to home building costs, it said.

“While this tender price index relates to non-residential construction, the findings raise questions about the capacity of the sector as a whole to cater for an increased level of house building and the cost of delivering those houses.”

“Recently it was announced that 3,000 new social housing units would be built by next year, but given the supply constraints we are seeing on the ground, it’s still not clear who is going to build them,” said Kevin James at the SCSI.

Dublin tender prices rose by almost 3%, and by over 2.6% in Munster, in the first six months, and will rise again through the year, he said.

Separately, Bank of Ireland said demand for housing meant people and firms expect rents and house prices to rise further. Its latest Economic Pulse index, which surveys Irish consumers and businesses for the European Commission, dropped in September for a second month. Slow progress in the Brexit talks affected both firms and consumers.

“The rebound in consumer confidence lost some steam this month, and with business sentiment also subdued, the Economic Pulse posted its lowest reading of the year to date. This month’s reading was also the weakest since last November when the outcome of the US election, coming on top of the Brexit-vote, rattled households and firms,” said chief economist Loretta O’Sullivan.

She said: “This month’s data shows many firms consider the housing infrastructure in their region to be inadequate. Firms in Dublin, the rest of Leinster and Munster also cited it as the priority area for investment — to help strengthen local economies and the business environment.”

Consumers are worried about bills, taxes, rents and house prices, the survey found.

This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.

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