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Real social housing construction hit harder by Covid-19 than private sector despite softer restrictions - Eoin Ó Broin TD

9 March, 2021 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin TD has called on the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien to provide greater clarity on the new build social housing output for 2020.

The call comes after figures released by the Department of Housing today show that new build social housing fell 34% short of its target last year despite having softer restrictions than private sector construction sites.

Teachta Ó Broin said:

“Last year, government hoped that a total of 25,000 new homes would be delivered by both the public and private sector. However, Covid-19 restrictions saw the sector fall 20% short of this target with just 20,000 completions.

“Figures released by the Department of Housing today show that social housing new builds were 34% short of their target, delivering just 5073 new homes last year from a target of 7736.

“The question must be asked why is the shortfall in social housing output significantly worse than overall construction? Is this all due to Covid-19 or were other factors involved.

"This is all the more puzzling in light of the softer restrictions that applied to social housing developments last year, many of which remained on site, even when private sector developments were forced to close.

“In addition to the 5073 new build social housing, councils and approved housing bodies bought a further 1314 social homes, bringing the total number of real social houses added to the stock to 6387.

“This equates to just 25% of the total social housing supports delivered last year. The subsidised private rental sector delivered 18,981 social housing supports last year, just 4% shy of the government’s 18,238 target.

“It is clear that the government’s heavy over-reliance on subsidised privately owned properties continues to make up the shortfall in the delivery of real homes as it makes up 75% of the total delivery.

“It is also clear that there is more to last year’s shortfall in new build social homes than the impact of Covid-19.

"Minister O’Brien needs to provide greater clarity on this issue. He also needs to outline how he intends to meet this year’s target of 9,500 new build social homes as well as recover the 2,662 new build social homes not delivered in 2020."

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