Eoghan Murphy defends Government housing policy

Minister insists huge progress made in recent years in provision of social homes

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has defended the Government's housing policy, saying that housing stock has increased drastically with eight times the number of new builds being completed in recent years.

Latest figures show there were 4,251 new social housing builds in 2018, with 2,022 built by local authorities, 1,388 by approved housing bodies and 841 homes provided through the Part V requirement on new developments.

This was four per cent below target, but the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government said the rate of construction last year was 85 per cent higher than in 2017.

The Minister told RTÉ's Morning Ireland that one in four houses built in the country last year was social housing.

Mr Murphy also defended Housing Assistance Payments (HAP), saying that €400million would be spent on the scheme this year which works with the private rental sector “to help keep people out of homelessness.”

The vast majority of people on the HAP scheme are in secure rental accommodation.

Mr Murphy also said that he hopes that new legislation to introduce a Rent Register – (where tenants can access information on the amount of rent paid by previous tenants in a property – will be in place before the Easter recess.

He said he has the support of other political parties for the legislation which will also include enhanced powers for the Residential Tenancies Board.

The Minister acknowledged that only half of the budget allocated for Traveller accommodation had been spent last year, this was because of objections to projects. “It is a difficult budget to spend.”

However, he said that if the budget was not spent, it would instead be ‘reprofiled’ and spent in other areas to help keep people out of homelessness.