Social housing funding down €35m in past three years

Government data reveals Co Mayo did not buy a single unit in 2012 or 2013

Government funding for local authority housing has fallen by €35 million since 2012, new statistics show.

Data compiled by the Department of the Environment and Local Government and seen by The Irish Times reveals that grant money provided to councils for the building and acquisition of social housing was reduced from almost €115 million in 2012 to just over €80 million last year.

Disparity

The figures also reveal a disparity in allocations received by different authorities. Co

Mayo

received €1.8 million over the three-year period, which translates as €14 spent on social housing per head of population; Co

Louth

had €113 per head.

Co Mayo did not buy a single social housing unit in 2012 and 2013. Instead, €1.1 million was used in building new units.

Limerick city and county recorded an average spend of €24 per head, while Co Tipperary spent €26 per head. Co Leitrim received the smallest allocation of €1.28 million over the three years.

Councils with larger urban populations tended to get more funding. Counties with cities or which are part of the broader Dublin commuter belt make up most of the top 10, with more rural areas allocated less.

No money was spent on new builds in Waterford city and county in 2013 or in Co Longford and Co Tipperary last year as cuts came into effect.

Sinn Féin spokesperson Brian Stanley said an "almost total lack of investment" in the sector had precipitated a crisis.

Depaul Ireland chief executive Kerry Anthony said: "In 2014 in Dublin we saw a 1,171 per cent increase in the number of families and 1,567 per cent increase in the number of children requiring critical homelessness support – underinvestment in social housing and declines in private sector builds have resulted in the situation we see today."

Strategy

As part of the Government’s new social housing strategy €3.8 billion will be spent in the next six years to create 35,000 social housing units.

A spokesman for the department said Limerick had also benefited from a regeneration scheme worth more than €90 million. He said a “significant reduction in exchequer funding” had affected the provision of social housing services, but said the issue “has now returned to being a key priority for the Government”.