Councils fail to meet building targets

It will be at least March before the Government reveals how many social houses it plans to build in each local authority this year.

Despite calling in the heads of the 31 local authorities yesterday, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy was unable to give details on how and where a promised 3,800 new social houses will be delivered this year.

Local authorities failed to meet their construction targets in 2017, delivering just 2,245 new social homes instead of the target of 2,434.

After hosting a second housing summit, Mr Murphy indicated it will be towards the end of the year before there is a detailed breakdown on the number of new social houses for 2018 and beyond, whether they be through direct builds, approved housing bodies, or regeneration projects.

He said there are “no issues around delivery”, despite the failure to come up with a set of projections at yesterday’s meeting.

Mr Murphy said he had written to local authorities in advance of the summit asking them to provide information around what had been achieved in 2017 and their targets from 2018 to 2021.

“What we are going to do over the next couple of weeks is work with the local authorities to finalise those numbers,” said Mr Murphy.

“At first we will be doing it on the basis of what is your needs for your area, according to the housing needs assessment which Minister [Damien] English published last week, and, based on that need, what the targets are, and what the money is, we will then publish that at the beginning of March.”

He said this figure will be “at a high enough level” to allow local authorities flexibility around how they achieve their targets.

“A second piece of work will happen after which will allow us, in the later part of the year, to come up with exact numbers under each heading,” said Mr Murphy.

“They will be published, people will be able to see what exactly their local authority is providing, and we can track that here at the department to see exactly what is happening, so that if there should be a problem around a particular scheme we will know how to resolve that and will be able to resolve that quite quickly.”

It is understood Mr Murphy was “firm” with local authorities in demanding they come up with a proper set of plans in the coming weeks.

However, while some local authorities put forward ambitious proposals to build more homes than set out in their targets, others fell short.

It is understood there were significant differences in the level of new social housing projects promised among the Dublin local authorities, where the housing/homeless crisis is most acute.

While the Government is now trying to move away from acquisitions and increase the number of directly built social houses, Mr Murphy said he would give councils some flexibility in terms of how they achieve their targets.

Asked if he could provide a breakdown of how the expected 3,800 new social homes will be provided, Mr Murphy said he could not.

He said approved housing bodies had worked well in the past year in rolling out social housing units and councils would continue to work with these groups.


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