Tuesday, 25 October 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
128. Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the actions he has taken since January 2005 to achieve his Department’s objective of enabling every household to have available an affordable dwelling of good quality, suited to its needs, in a good environment and as far as possible at the tenure of its choice. [30317/05]
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. N. Ahern): My Department continually monitors and reviews policies and measures aimed at fulfilling key objectives of national housing policy. This year we have already introduced a number of further initiatives aimed at increasing supply in a sustainable way as well as making substantial progress in addressing concerns raised in the NESC report on housing.
Overall housing output for the first six months of 2005 was running at similar levels to 2004 — the tenth successive year for record house completions with 76,950 units completed. House completions in Ireland are at the highest level in Europe in relation to population — around 19 units per 1,000 population. This is well over five times the rate of our nearest neighbours, the UK.
In July 2005, the Government launched the affordable homes partnership, which is designed to drive the delivery of affordable housing in the greater Dublin area. As part of the broader national delivery of housing, all local authorities will review their land management strategies to maximise the availability of land for their own housing programmes, voluntary and co-operative housing and housing partnerships with the private sector, as well as to secure more active use of brownfield land and derelict sites.
A detailed assessment of housing need was carried out by local authorities earlier this year and the results are due to be published shortly. These will provide my Department and housing authorities with improved and updated data on all households in need of social or affordable housing and will assist in the monitoring and review of housing policy more generally.
Record levels of funding have been provided for the broad range of social and affordable housing. The total Exchequer capital and current funding available for social and affordable housing in 2005 will amount to €1.3 billion, which represents an increase of 20% on 2004. Total capital spending on social and affordable housing output in 2005, inclusive of non-Exchequer financing, will amount to €2 billion.
To ensure a systematic and integrated approach to the use of these resources, local authorities in consultation with my Department have developed new five-year action plans for social and affordable housing covering the period to 2008. The preparation of these plans has improved the identification of priority needs and will help to ensure a more coherent and co-ordinated response across all housing services.
Overall in 2005, it is anticipated that the needs of in excess of 13,000 households will be met through the existing social and affordable housing measures. In addition, it is anticipated that a number of households in private rented accommodation will transfer to the new rental accommodation scheme now being introduced. Under the scheme, local authorities will, over a four-year period, progressively assume responsibility for accommodating supplementary welfare allowance rent supplement recipients of 18 months or more continuous duration with a long-term housing need. It is estimated that of the 58,000 people in receipt of rent supplement, 30,000 may fall into the target group for this new scheme.
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