Thursday, 7 May 2009
Dáil Eireann Debate
11. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on increasing the funding available to local authorities to build or acquire social housing units in order to reduce the risk of homelessness for people on low incomes rather than continue to fund private sector landlords; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18070/09]
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Deputy Michael Finneran): The regulation and administration of the Supplementary Welfare Allowance rent supplement scheme is a matter for the Minister for Social and Family Affairs who indicated, in reply to a question on the matter on 30 April, that payments to rent supplement tenants were being reduced in the expectation that landlords would reduce their rents, given the reductions in rent levels in the private rental market as a whole.
Housing authorities and the voluntary and co-operative housing sector, supported by funding from my Department, continue to provide a wide range of social housing supports for those with long term housing needs, with the range of supply options evolving over time, taking account of prevailing market conditions and the key principles of the Government’s housing policy statement, Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities.
In addition to traditional construction contracts, other social housing supply options introduced have included design/build contracts, Part V acquisitions, second hand acquisitions, turnkey projects, and lease options under the Rental Accommodation Scheme. Given the more constrained resource environment, it is more important than ever that we continue to adapt our approaches to social housing delivery to ensure that we make best use of the resources available in terms of both meeting housing needs and achieving good value for money outcomes. Long term leasing, now also being introduced, is designed with these objectives in mind. I expect it to deliver at least 2,000 new homes in 2009 and I believe it has the potential to play an increasingly significant part in meeting social housing needs in future years.
Addressing the housing needs of the most vulnerable sections of society has been the focus of particular attention by the Government and will remain a priority in the years ahead. Specifically in relation to homelessness, considerable progress has been made, with a new homelessness strategy, The Way Home, adopted by Government in 2008. The recent completion of a comprehensive Implementation Plan for the strategy and the provision of increased funding for homeless services provide further strong foundations for continued progress towards meeting the strategy’s key objectives.
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