Government promises to meet social housing needs – How do they measure up?

By Megan Gorman

The government announced the plans for the spending on social housing as part of the budget 2020. It has been said that they plan to spend €1.2 billion on social housing as part of the new Budget. Announcing the budget, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe unveiled capital funding to support the delivery of over 11,000 new social homes in 2020. With the promise of new social housing being built, I looked into how much exactly has been spent on social housing in 2019.

After sending an FOI request to the Government for housing, I was given the Social Housing Construction Status Report. It demonstarted positive progess in social housing. The latest Construction Status Report shows that:

  • There are 6,439 social homes are currently onsite nationwide.
  • There were 143 additional schemes on site across the country at the end of the second quarter (Q2) than at the end of quarter one in 2019.
  • The number of schemes on site at the end of Q2 2019 (1,559) is nearly 50% higher than at the end of Q2 2018 (1,067).
  • The number of homes expected to yield from these schemes is up more than 8% from 20,324 to 22,139.

The number of new dwelling completions in Q2 2019 was the highest in Dublin at 1,546 followed closely by the Mid-East with 1,233. Together, 56% of all new dwelling completions in Q2 2019 were in Dublin or the Mid-East.

In a press release the housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said that “7,000 homes would be built next year, with a further 800 acquired and 2,631 leased in the long-term.”

However even with the numbers showing that houses are being built, it’s still easy to see that the houses aren’t affordable. Figures from the Department of Housing show that more than 10,000 people have been homeless in Ireland for the past seven months.  

In August 2018, official figures counted 9,527 people as homeless; this increased to 10,275 in August 2019. The reason for these numbers to be so high is due to the fact that although houses are being bulit they are not affordable and more money is being pumped into subsidised private sector tenancies than affordable social housing.

The figures I received in respone to my FOI confirm that the government will spend more on social housing rental subsidy schemes next year than it will give directly to Local Authorities to build and buy real social houses. The capital budget of €1.2 billion is being spilt between social housing and rental subsidy schemes. €700 million will go directly to scoial affordable housing and an estimated 7,000 social houses will be built in 2020.

However a current spend of €800 million is going into long term leasing and landlords are expected to receive more than the €700 million being spent on social housing. The figures do show houses are being built but there is not enough capital spending and there needs to be more short term support. 

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