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Housing completion rate figures hugely misleading – Ó Broin

19 April, 2017 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin TD has called on Minister Coveney to urgently address the inaccuracies in the statistics used to measure housing completion rates.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“The Department of Housing currently calculates its housing completion statistics using connections to the ESB network. However, a number of commentators, including architect Mel Reynolds and Housing lecturer Lorcan Sirr have raised serious concerns about the level of accuracy of these figures. Recently published CSO statistics also confirm that there is a major problem with the accuracy of the government figures.

“There are a number of problems with using ESB connections as an accurate source of housing completion data. This is primarily because when a house has been empty for more than two years the owner must apply for a new ESB connection. This means that vacant units, refurbished homes, and other existing empty properties are being classified within the new housing completion figures.

“This distorts the true housing completion rates which the Department of Housing claimed to be 14,932 for 2016. However, in reality, this figure could be exaggerated by more than 50%.

“Despite the problems with using ESB connection data as a means of measuring housing completion rates, the Government has not signalled any intent to change its counting method. Architect Mel Reynolds has suggested using the Building Control Management System (BCMS) as a source. This building database records how many houses are complete and on the market each month. However, these figures are not currently published.

“If the Minster for Housing genuinely wants to reach his target of 25,000 new homes by 2021, he has a duty to publish the most accurate housing completion figures he can. The Department must publish accurate quarterly completion figures in order to assess its true progress towards reaching this target.” 

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