Government facing criticism as housing plan delayed again

The Housing For All masterplan to deliver 33,000 homes a year was due this month — but it's still weeks away from completion
Government facing criticism as housing plan delayed again

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien had expected to bring his Housing for All plan to Cabinet for sign-off next week, but it now appears the document  won't be finalised until late August or even early September. File Picture: Niall Carson/PA

The Government's long-term housing masterplan has been delayed until at least the end of August as ministers wrangle over the proposed targets and budget.

This is the second time in as many weeks that cracks have emerged in the coalition over the thorny issue of housing.

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien had promised to publish his Housing for All plan this month and it had been expected to come before Cabinet for sign-off next week.

However, Mr O'Brien now won't have the finalised document ready until late August or possibly even September.

Fears that deadlines may not be met 

Discussions are continuing between a number of Government departments including finance, public expenditure, higher education, and housing.

However, it is understood that concerns have been raised over the ambition of the targets contained in the plan with fears that they may not be achievable in the timelines set out.

Mr O'Brien's spokesperson said work is continuing on the multi-annual plan which will set out the State approach to housing up to 2030.

The spokesperson confirmed that a number of departments will continue to work on the details "throughout August".

However, one senior Government source last night said: "It doesn't look good if you say you are going to publish a plan in July and now it won't be ready until at least August."

Comparison with Rebuilding Ireland

Citing the previous Rebuilding Ireland plan, which the last Fine Gael-led Government developed, one senior minister stressed that it is easy to publish proposals but it is important that they can be achieved.

It comes after ministers and the Taoiseach clashed over the amount to be spent on housing, which resulted in the publication of the summer economic statement (SES) being delayed last week.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Micheál Martin went toe-to-toe on the housing budget allocation, with the Taoiseach arguing in favour of increased spending.

The SES, which includes an extra €1.1bn allocation to capital projects, was eventually published after a second Cabinet meeting last Thursday.

Plan to deliver 33,000 houses a year

It is expected that the Housing for All plan will be funded to the tune of €12bn a year and will set out measures to deliver 33,000 houses a year by 2025.

Sinn Féin housing spokesperson, Eoin Ó Broin said he was not surprised that Mr O'Brien has missed what he said was another key deadline.

"His affordable housing plan promised for September 2020 has not yet been fully announced. Now his entire housing plan is delayed," said Mr Ó Broin.

For all their faults, the last Fine Gael Government produced a housing plan in 100 days. It is taking Fianna Fáil more than a year to produce theirs.

The publication of the action plan is now likely to coincide with a series of housing protests being organised in September.

The National Homeless and Housing Coalition is organising a day of local protests which will be held across the country on September 11. It is also calling on people to gather at the Dáil on the day politicians return from their summer recess, September 15.

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