Potential construction jobs boost as Ministers Kelly and Coffey launch – ‘Social Housing Strategy 2020: Support, Supply and Reform’

The Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Alan Kelly T.D. together with his colleague Paudie Coffey T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government today (26 November, 2014) launched the ‘Social Housing Strategy 2020: Support, Supply and Reform’, a Government commitment under Construction 2020.

At the launch, Minister Kelly said “This six-year Social Housing Strategy sets out to fully meet this Government’s ambitious goals. In committing to provide 35,000 new social housing units at a cost of €3.8 bn, it makes a fresh start for social housing in Ireland. One of the  main priorities for this Government is to address the challenge of providing social housing for the people of this country This Strategy sets out how we will achieve this priority.   The Strategy restores the State to a central role in the provision of social housing through a resumption of direct building on a significant scale by local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies. It emphasises the State’s lead role in building partnerships with other public, voluntary and private providers of housing in the development of innovative funding mechanisms that do not increase the General Government Debt.

The Minister explained that the Social Housing Strategy will provide for a more economic, sustainable, progressive and integrated approach to social housing delivery in Ireland.  The Strategy provides the basis for an enhanced approach to social housing provision and contains clear actions to be taken to increase supply and most importantly, reduce the number of people on waiting lists. The measures in the Strategy build on and complement Budget 2015, which provided for a multi-annual approach to the provision of social housing with a considerable increase in Exchequer investment and proposals for innovative funding approaches to increase supply.

Minister of State Coffey said The Strategy builds on work initiated under Construction 2020. It will underpin a more financially sustainable and integrated Social Housing Sector which is more responsive to people’s need. It will also assist in the recovery of a strong and sustainable construction sector”.

Minister of State Coffey continued, saying that he welcomed “the road map that the strategy will accommodate the entire housing waiting list of 90,000 households, with homes in which they can raise their families, by 2020”.

The Strategy commits to; 

·        supplying 35,000 additional social housing units at a cost of €3.8 billion over the next 6 years;

·        Estimated 29,000 Jobs in construction and promotion of mixed-tenure developments

·        meeting the housing needs of some 75,000 households through local authority provision via the private rented sector – using Housing Assistance Payment and Rental Accommodation Scheme;

·        reforming social housing delivery and management in Ireland,

·        establishing the Dublin Social Housing Delivery Taskforce,  to respond to the current supply difficulties and focus on the delivery of social housing in the Dublin area, and

·        sets out road map to accommodate everyone on the Housing Waiting Lists by 2020 (90,000 households) 

The Government’s vision as outlined in the Strategy is that every household will have access to secure, good quality housing suited to their needs at an affordable price in a sustainable community and is founded on a three Pillar approach:

Pillar 1: Provision of New Social Housing Supply.

Pillar 2: Providing Housing Supports through the Private Rental Sector.  

Pillar 3: Reform Creating More Flexible and Responsive Social Housing Supports in Ireland. 

The first two Pillars will address the immediate supply shortage and well as creating a sustainable approach which aims to accommodate everyone (90,000 households) on the Housing Waiting Lists by 2020. While Pillar 3 includes a range of actions to ensure that social housing supports are responsive to people’s current needs as well as to changes in their circumstances.

The Strategy is based on a multi-annual approach to delivery over two phases, with an additional cost to the Exchequer over the 6 years at an estimated €3.8bn. It will signal a movement towards ‘Off Balance Sheet Delivery Mechanisms’ based on greater use of and access to private finance.

Phase 1: Target of 18,000 additional housing units and 32,000 HAP/RAS units by end of 2017. 

Phase 2: Target of 17,000 additional housing units and 43,000 HAP/RAS units by end of 2020. 

It is vital that any programme of investment in social housing is accompanied by an agenda for reform and this will underpin the third Pillar of the Strategy. Under this Strategy, social housing supports will be made more flexible, progressive and targeted over the delivery period. The Strategy recognises the need for transition mechanisms to help people move on from social housing as their circumstances improve. It will continue to facilitate the greater use of mixed tenure developments, as well as emphasising the Government’s commitment to the key principle of developing sustainable communities.

Detailed Governance and programme management arrangements are provided for in the Strategy, including –

    • An Oversight Group chaired by the Minister
    • A Task Force to drive the delivery of social housing units in Dublin
    • A Project Board chaired by a Senior Official in Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government
    • 5 different work streams focussing on specific action areas

The Strategy also contains an Action Plan with detailed objectives and timelines. Key among these actions are commitments that the Project Board and the Dublin Social Housing Delivery Taskforce will agree targets with local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies for delivery of social housing in 2015 and initiate work on targets for subsequent years. This process, will ensure that progress on the overall social housing delivery targets of the Strategy is measurable and ultimately that the targets are met over the 6 year Strategy period.

Minister Kelly concluded saying, Thanks to the policies of this Government, our return to economic growth has come quickly. This welcome growth has an impact on household formation and on housing supply, which the State is responding to, through Construction 2020 and through this Strategy. Together with my colleague, Minister of State Coffey, I am committed to a ‘hands on’ approach to working with all stakeholders involved so that we drive on towards the housing targets this Strategy sets out”.