Monday 26 March 2012

Government allocates E251m for social housing

Minister for Housing and Planning Jan O'Sullivan today announced details of housing capital allocations to local authorities worth some E251.5 million for 2012.

The allocations will support investment under the national regeneration programme, works to improve the standard and energy efficiency of the national social housing stock as well as meeting commitments under existing contracts for delivering social and voluntary houses. A multi- annual capital investment programme for new housing construction projects will be outlined later in the year.

Minister O'Sullivan pointed to the fact that the social housing capital budget had declined significantly in recent years. "In managing this decline, the government has protected to the maximum extent the budgets for homelessness, regeneration, and grants for the elderly and the disabled. With the economic crisis and restrictions on government borrowing, the government has to provide social housing by other means." The Minister went on to note that she had some E691m available to her in capital and current funding to support a broad range of measures under the Social Housing Investment Programme for 2012.

Of this, capital funding of E390m is being provided for housing construction, regeneration and improvement works this year, while the current budget will support flexible housing supply models based around the leasing of properties, including properties being made available by NAMA this year.
The Minister stated that "at least for the foreseeable future, the days of large capital funded construction projects are over. We need to think anew. The need for social housing is still growing and we need to deliver bigger numbers of social housing in different ways. A good example of this is the Capital Advance Leasing Facility which provides an up-front equity stake of up to 30pc of the property value to approved voluntary housing bodies who raise private finance to acquire or build new social housing units, using leasing payments to repay loans in respect of their equity share. This year I'm setting aside E20m to support this important measure. I am confident that across all measures, we will deliver between 3,500 and 4,000 additional social housing units this year. Additionally, investment in improving the social housing stock is expected to make some 1,500 properties, which are vacant at present, available for re-letting this year"

The allocations includes some E90m to ensure real progress is made under the ambitious regeneration programmes in Limerick City, Ballymun, in estates and flat complexes in Dublin City and at a number of regional locations. Despite the constraints on the construction programme, we will allocate almost E60m to local authorities this year to fund ongoing construction work and acquisition commitments.
Over E50m will be provided to local authorities for improving the standard and energy efficiency of the social housing stock. E18m of this is ring-fenced for improving the energy efficiency of older stock, with a particular focus on bringing vacant stock back into productive use.

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