Coveney denies spin on numbers for new house builds

Minister reacts to reports of just 7,500 new builds in 2016 which is half the official figure

The Minister responsible for housing has denied the level of house building is lower than the Government’s official figures.

Simon Coveney was responding to reports that only 7,500 units were built last year, which is dramatically lower than the Department of Housing statistics which estimates 15,000 were completed in 2016.

The Minister insisted the same method of calculating house building has been applied since the 1970s.

“People will always question how stats are put together . . . People seem to trying to catch the Government out here by saying, ‘well, this house was physically built last year.’


“But it got occupied last year because it was previously part of a ghost estate or an unfinished apartment block. The case is still the case.

"It wasn't previously in use in recent years or months and now it's got an ESB connection and it's being occupied or sold or rent. It's a new completion as far we're concerned. I'm not hiding anything. This is not the Government trying to spin something."

ESB connections are used a proxy for house completions by the department.

New builds

Experts claim the 15,000 figure for house completions last year being used by Mr Coveney bears little relationship to the number of new homes being built.

This is because it is based on ESB meter connection data, which typically overstates the level of new builds, reflecting the fact that new electricity connections can be triggered by work to existing buildings, or by formerly vacant units coming back on stream.

Mr Coveney said he did not understand why this method was being questioned now.

“We use the same completion figures that we’ve used since the 1970s and we haven’t changed that. The way in which new houses are measured is on the basis of ESB connections.

“If we change the way we calculate that then we have to change it retrospectively right the way through the records in terms of data. We’re just using the same method as has been used for decades. That’s the way to compare like with like.”

In its Rebuilding Ireland strategy, the Government set ambitious targets to complete 25,000 new builds by 2021.

The Minister said there is an increased level of activity which may mean this is reached by 2019.