Belfast Telegraph

More work to do says minister, as number of social homes being built increases

Three times as many social homes were built in Ireland in 2017 than in the previous year, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has said.

The minister praised the progress made in social housing supports, but conceded more work needed to be done to improve housing options.

At the launch of the Government's housing delivery report, the minister said: "In recognising these positive developments in 2017, that's not to say that our work is finished - not by a long shot.

"And 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.

"People can have confidence in the work we are doing to repair a recently broken housing system and to get tens of thousands of new homes built."

His comments came as the Government found itself under increasing pressure to find social houses for homeless families.

It is estimated 4,000 families left homelessness last year, however, the number of people who are homeless is still increasing. More than 8,800 people were homeless in November, including 3,333 children.

The figures published by the Department of Housing showed 2,245 new social homes were built by local authorities, approved housing bodies or by developers under the Part V regulation in 2017, up from 657 homes in 2016.

The target set was for 2,434 homes to be delivered in 2017 - the Government reached 92% of their target.

The minister said they had set ambitious targets for 2017 and that they came in slightly shy.

"Obviously I would have liked it to be 100% but we had three times as many as we did in 2016 so what that tells us is we had ambitious targets for 2017," he said.

"We have increased those targets again [for 2018]."

The minister said 25,892 households had their housing needs met last year under the Rebuilding Ireland programme.

"To put it another way, in 2017, 100 new households had their social housing needs met each working day of the week," he said.

The vast majority of the homes provided - 17,916 units - were subsidised rental accommodation under the Housing Assistance Payment scheme.

Mr Murphy claimed the Government exceeded its overall target for new social housing supports in 2017 by 23%, with more than 4,800 additional tenancies.

In total, more than 7,000 new homes were added to the active social housing stock last year through build, acquisitions, voids and leasing programmes, a 40% increase on what was planned for the year, and a 24% increase over what was achieved in 2016.

"As a Government we are fixing our housing problems as quickly as they can be fixed, and we are doing it in a sustainable way that won't expose us to the risks and mistakes of the past."

The Government's construction figures from September 2017 show 3,700 new social housing homes being built across 190 sites.

A total of 1.4 billion euro of taxpayers' money was spent by the Government as part of the Rebuilding Ireland plan last year.

Under the Rebuilding Ireland programme the needs of 50,000 households are expected to be met by 2021. To date, 12,780 such additions have been delivered.

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