Queries on €400m set aside for social housing

Questions have been raised as to whether any homes have been built from €400m in proceeds from the sale of Bord Gais Energy that were originally set aside for investment in social housing.

Queries on €400m set aside for social housing

Fianna Fáil wants to know where the money is after a failure to put the funds in a special investment vehicle that would keep the cost off the State’s balance sheet.

It was promised in Budget 2015 that €400m from the proceeds of the sale of Bord Gais Energy would be used through a special financial vehicle to fund social housing. However, no new model or financing of social housing on an off-balance sheet basis was found for this.

In response, the Government committed to put €10m a year from the proceeds, over a longer period, into the development of a pilot affordable rental scheme. However, this €10m pilot project, announced as far back as 2015, was never undertaken.

The details are contained in written Dáil parliamentary answers given by ministers to Opposition TDs.

Fianna Fáil public expenditure spokesman Barry Cowen is now demanding answers about what happened to the earmarked funds years after it was promised they would go into social housing or in part to affordable rent schemes.

In a statement to the Irish Examiner, he said: “Fine Gael sold Bord Gais for €400m. They said the proceeds would be used to provide social and affordable housing. This has not happened. It is yet another example of the government not delivering on its promises.

 “This is particularly cynical given the worsening housing crisis. When they confirmed they would not be using the €400m they offered a sop of €10m per year for an affordable housing project and this had not be utilised either.”

A spokesman for Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy last night insisted the €400m was not “sitting somewhere” unspent. However, no details could be provided on where the proceeds specifically went and how the state asset sale proceeds have been or will be used. No official announcement or document either details this.

The spokesman added: “The money doesn’t come in as Bord Gais money or not Bord Gais money. The money is part of the €6bn spent and to be spent between 2016 and 2021.”

However, Fianna Fáil wants to know what has happened specifically to the €400m set aside and promised for social housing.

Mr Cowen added: “This is shameful given there are 3,000 children in emergency accommodation and an increasing number of citizens becoming homeless.

“Where has the €400m been invested and what has it delivered for the taxpayer?”

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