Murphy to pressure councils on housing

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy.

The Housing Minister is to pressure local authorities to build more social houses by publishing targets for each individual area.

Local authorities failed to meet social house building targets last year, but the Government exceeded its overall target for new social housing supports by 23%.

Mr Murphy has called a second Housing Summit for next week during which he will question local authority chiefs on their efforts to tackle the housing and homeless crisis.

Publishing a Report on Housing Delivery in 2017 under Rebuilding Ireland, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said: “There is more work to do, clearly. We have even greater ambitions for 2018, particularly on the build side.”

While Government targets around HAP, acquisitions and putting voids back into use all exceeded targets in 2017, the number of homes built fell short of what had been expected.

The Government had set a target of building 2,434 new social homes through local authorities and Approved Housing Body construction — but just 2,245 were built last year.

Housing Authorities built around 1,000 houses, a further 800 were built by Approved Housing Bodies and the remainder came from Part V.

“It is important to note that the figure of 2,245 is three times that of 2016, yes it is slightly under the target of what we had set, it was an ambitious target.

“It’s important to allow Local Authorities to have some flexibility, if a local authority see there might be potential to acquire a certain number of homes and they can get better value for money from that and they aren’t necessarily competing with others in the market then that is something that they should pursue.”

Mr Murphy said: “Next week myself and Minister Damien English are meeting with the local authorities we are going to discuss how they are going to meet their build targets and every other target for this year.

“Following that I am going to publish the expected delivery of each local authority over the course of 2018 and to the end if Rebuilding Ireland in 2021, how we are going to build those 50,000 homes.”

He said unannounced inspections are already taking place across local authoress and on sites “so that we can be confident that what needs to happen is happening”.

The Minister said the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) had performed “strongly”.

The target for HAP of 15,000 was exceeded by nearly 3,000, with 17,916 new HAP tenancies established in 2017.

Mr Murphy added that Government has changed the delivery mix for 2018 though, “meaning we will be aiming to do more on the build side and less on the acquisitions side”.

“But where buying makes sense, and where it’s not competing with young families or couples in the market, local authorities will continue to do it,” he said.

Mr Murphy said: “I’m not saying that all is now well with our housing system and that further interventions will not be needed to continue to repair our recently broken housing system. There is more that we need to do and I know that.”


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