Only 4% of new social houses built by local authorities

Figures show the heavy reliance on the private sector has increased

Just four per cent of new social housing provided in the first six months of this year was built by local authorities, figures just published by the Department of Housing show.

The data, released on Thursday in the Social Housing Construction report Q2 2018, show of the "12,358 additional housing solutions" provided to the end of June, 487, or 3.9 per cent, were built by councils.

The highest proportion, 9,739 (79 per cent) have come from the private rental sector.

The figures show that since the Government's action plan on housing, Rebuilding Ireland, was published in July 2016 the heavy reliance on the private sector has increased.


Cumulatively, since 2016 the private rental sector’s role in social housing has increased from 74.2 per cent to 75.4 per cent, apparently belying the Department’s assertion that reliance on the sector was falling.

Newly-built units

Across the 31 local authorities to the end of June 1,051 newly-built units of social housing came on stream. Of these, as well as those built by councils, 313 were built by approved housing bodies (AHBs) and 251 were delivered through Part 5 of the planning laws – which requires private developers to make at least 10 per cent of the dwellings in a development available to the local authority at a reduced rate.

Some 1,181 units were bought on the open market for social housing – 612 by local authorities and 569 by AHBs (9.5 per cent of the total).

Of the new “social housing solutions” put forward by the Department 9,083 were tenancies in the private sector supported with the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).

Some 361 were provided under the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) whereby local authorities rent properties from landlords to let onto eligible tenants in receipt of rent supplement. Some 295 units came on-stream through other leasing arrangements between councils and private landlords.

Approved for planning

According to the Department 4,602 more council and AHB homes were under construction at end of June, with another 1,577 homes approved for planning – a total of 6,179.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said: "Good headway is being made across each delivery area but I need to see more being done and it is essential that we meet our ambitious targets for 2018. The pace of delivery on the build side will have to pick up considerably in the second half of the year."

Among the first to react to the new figures was Richard Boyd Barrett TD (People Before Profit) who said they showed the "overwhelming and dangerous over-reliance on the private sector as a supposed solution to the housing crisis. The sector provides no security whatsoever for tenants and many who end up in it will quickly find themselves in housing distress or evicted."

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times