Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Environment and Local Government Barry Cowen TD says Minister Alan Kelly is attempting to mislead the public regarding the number of social housing units provided in 2015.
Deputy Cowen made the comments after Minister Kelly claimed the Government delivered 13,000 new social housing units in 2015, despite the fact that the housing emergency escalated significantly in the same period of time.
“Comical Ali would be proud of Minister Kelly following his absurd claim that the Government delivered 13,000 new social housing units in 2015. The fact of the matter is that these units were in no way “new” social housing units. Minister Kelly met his target by moving people from one housing scheme to another. These numbers do not represent new families whose housing needs are being met by the state,” explained Deputy Cowen.
“Of the 13,000 housing units that Minister Kelly claim were provided, most of these are either directly transferred from Rent Supplement, are refurbished vacant social housing units or are construction units that began in 2014 and are being re-announced for 2015.
“8,953 housing units were provided under three existing schemes namely the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS), the Social Housing Current Expenditure Programme (SHCEP) and the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).
“All of the units provided under RAS and about 35% of HAP recipients were transferred from the Rent Supplement programme. This means that 32% of the 13,000 units the Minister claimed were provided in 2015 came directly from Rent Supplement.
“Furthermore 1,080 units came from long term leasing under SHCEP. Many of these housing units have been let on long term leasing contracts at market rates from NAMA. These NAMA units are ‘hanging fruit’ and will be exhausted by next year. Yet the Minister has almost wholly relied upon them to meet his housing targets.
“2,700 units are Vacant Properties that were returned to productive use, many of which were already announced in 2014. Of the 246 new builds completed in 2015, some 218 of these were by voluntary housing bodies. It is a damning indictment that in 2015 Local Authorities themselves only built 28 new social homes.
“These figures show how Minister Kelly’s housing plan is utterly unrealistic, unplanned and non-transparent,” concluded Deputy Cowen.