Government plan to build 47,000 social houses will take ‘few years’

The Government’s plan to build 47,000 social houses will “take a few years” to be completed, it was admitted yesterday.

The chairperson of the national sub-committee on housing of the Local Government Management Association has said the plan to bring 47,000 units into the social housing stock is achievable but it will take time.

Eugene Cummins, who is also chief executive of Roscommon County Council, said because of the need for planning permission and tendering processes, it will be some time before new houses can be built.

In the short run, Mr Cummins said there would also be a concentration on the housing assistance payment, acquisitions and the opening up of vacant or “voided” homes.

Mr Cummins added that a considerable number of houses would be acquired from the private sector, but he did not give exact figures as to how many would be bought and how many would be built by local authorities.

“Over the life of the plan and in the first years of that we will be focusing on the housing assistance payment, acquisitions and the returning of void units into use.

“The scale of the investment, it will require the planning for estates, it will involve the private sector getting back into building, so it’s going to take a few years until we start actually building.”

During an interview on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Cummins appeared to struggle when asked how many of the 47,000 units would be newly built.

When asked about a figure of 26,000 new builds, as suggested by Housing Minister Simon Coveney earlier in the week, Mr Cummins said that target was achievable.

In his plan, Mr Coveney revealed that first-time buyers will receive up to €10,000 to help them buy new starter homes.

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