Social housing delay caused by cumbersome Department rules - Ó Broin
Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on Housing, Planning, and Local Government Eoin Ó Broin has said that the delay in social housing construction is down to the cumbersome procurement and approvals process imposed by the Departments of Housing and Public Expenditure as Reform as well as the legacy of chronic under-funding from central government.
Deputy Ó Broin said:
“The release of figures from the Department of Housing indicates a paralysis in social housing construction over the last number of years. This is not down to local authorities failing to respond to the housing crisis as insinuated by An Taoiseach. It is a direct result of local authorities being starved of essential funding for years by his government and due to the Department of Housing’s cumbersome approval, procurement and tendering rules.
“The Department of Housing has itself stated that this process can take up to two years and involves a four stage approvals process. This leads to repeated and unnecessary toing and froing between the department and respective local authorities.
“In fact one of the key issues identified by the Dáil Housing and Homelessness committee in delaying the delivery of social housing is the approval, procurement and tendering requirements of central government.
“Sinn Féin believe that this procurement process for social housing could be substantially shortened, while maintaining transparency and building quality and also including social clauses in public procurement contracts.
“The Action Plan for Housing adopted an important recommendation of the Dáil Housing and Homeless Committee report, which is the establishment of a Procurement Centre of Excellence in the Housing Agency. This is a welcome development; however more can be done to speed up the process.
“Sinn Féin believes a one stage approval process could be put in place and it would be ran on the basis of reporting by exception instead of engaging in a time consuming back and forth with the Department.
“This would be complemented with the creation of a new integrated design and build framework agreement. This would cover the design and construction of new builds. This kind of framework agreement would be suitable for a long term programme of work and would cut down on onerous tendering procedures.
“The Department of Housing needs to review its own procedures, and see how it can help to unblock and streamline the social housing building process. And the Taoiseach needs to stop passing the buck for his Government’s failure over the last five and a half years to tackle the housing crisis”