Some 73 per cent of new-build social housing units delivered last year came from the private sector, according to figures obtained from the Department of Housing.
They show the Government funded the delivery of 7,433 social homes in 2022. The majority (54 per cent or 4,026 units) were delivered by private developers in what are known as turnkey projects where the local authority or housing body enters a forward-purchasing arrangement with a private developer.
A further 19 per cent or 1,408 units were purchased from private developers under Part V of the Planning and Development Act, where 10 per cent of a private scheme is acquired for social housing. The final 27 per cent or 1,976 units were delivered directly by local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs).
The figures provided by Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien in response to a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin underscore the State’s reliance on private developers for the delivery of social housing.
“The Government’s over-reliance on private developers for social housing delivery is high cost and high risk,” Mr Ó Broin said, noting that just 1,976 homes were delivered by local authorities and AHBs on public land.
“High risk because it reveals a heavy over-reliance on private developers for social housing delivery. High cost because in general turnkey and Part V developments are more expensive than direct delivery as land costs and developers margin are included in the price,” he said.
“While turnkeys and Part V must remain central to social housing delivery in the coming years, what these figures show is that Government must focus on increasing the direct delivery output of local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies,” he said. “This will require increased investment and reform of the approval and tendering processes imposed on councils and housing bodies when delivering social homes.”
The Government’s Housing for All strategy plans to increase the supply of housing to an average of 33,000 per year over the next decade. This includes the delivery of 90,000 social homes by 2030. The policy is supported by an investment package of over €4 billion a year, comprising €12 billion in direct exchequer funding, €3.5 billion in funding through the Land Development Agency and €5 billion in funding through the Housing Finance Agency.
The very low direct builds have been linked to high social housing waiting lists. Critics also point out that local authorities are sitting on large tracts of public land which they say are ripe for development.
Residential property prices rose by 3.9 per cent in the 12 months to March, according to the latest official figures, down from 5.1 per cent in February, and from the high values of 15.1 per cent in the 12 months to February and March 2022. In Dublin residential property prices saw an increase of 1.7 per cent, while property prices outside Dublin were 5.7 per cent higher than a year earlier.