26 November 2014
Social Housing Strategy a step in right direction but measures must be implemented urgently to address housing shortage
Measures will also boost employment in construction sector
Wednesday 26th November 2014. The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI), the professional body for construction and property professionals, has welcomed the Social Housing Strategy announced today by the Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government Alan Kelly.
The SCSI said that the Government’s plan to build or refurbish 35,000 social housing units by 2020 would go a long way to address the problems facing the estimated 90,000 people in need of social housing support. The SCSI stressed, however, that the measures had to be implemented as a matter of urgency.
The SCSI pointed to the NESC ‘Financing of Social Housing in Selected European Countries’ report published during the summer which highlighted the fact that just under 10% of the total housing stock in the country is social housing compared to almost double that in other European Countries including England (17%), Netherlands (33%) and France (17%).
SCSI Vice President Andrew Nugent said that capital investment in social housing has plummeted in recent years due to challenging economic conditions. “In the mid-1990’s we were building around 5,000 social housing units per annum but less than 1,500 per annum have been built since 2011, which, in the context of increasing population numbers, was never going to be sustainable.
“The key issue now is a lack of supply in both public and private housing. Given the lack of construction of new social housing units, there was a heavy reliance on the private sector to provide social housing through Part V provisions in recent years. Due to the downturn, however, very few new houses were built – just 8,301 units last year – many of which were one off homes and didn’t provide any social housing component.
The SCSI also said that the measures must be targeted in areas where there is greatest need for social housing including urban centres which have experienced the steepest house price and rent increases due to a shortage of supply. According to the latest CSO figures, property prices nationally are 16.3% higher than this time last year.
“The increase in demand for social, private and rental accommodation has put further pressure on supply and this is evidenced by increases in property prices – up 24% year on year in Dublin according to the latest figures from the CSO. This is putting home ownership further out of reach from those on low incomes. If the government’s social housing strategy is implemented quickly it will provide long term housing for those most in need, it will reduce demand in the private rental sector and bring a much needed boost to construction jobs for new builds and renovations” Nugent concluded.