Government failed to spend 25% of social and affordable housing budget in 2022

New figures highlight substantial underspend in housing at time of acute shortages

The Government failed to spend €1 billion of the €4 billion earmarked for social and affordable housing projects last year.

Under its Housing for All strategy, launched in 2021, the Government pledged to spend €20 billion on housing over the next five years, including €4 billion in both 2022 and 2023.

However, new figures obtained from the Department of Housing show it spent just 75 per cent of its original allocation last year.

The figures show capital expenditure on social housing, direct builds and acquisitions came to just under €1.7 billion in 2022 while Government-backed loans to approved housing bodies (AHBs), also for social and affordable housing projects, amounted to €1.15 billion.


A further €100 million was spent on various Government housing initiatives, including the recently introduced First Home scheme, which aims to bridge the affordability gap for first-time buyers, while an additional €51 million was spent on housing projects by the Land Development Agency (LDA).

When combined, the total spend on housing by the Government came to €3 billion, €1 billion less than the budgetary allocation.

The figures were obtained in response to parliamentary queries by Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin.

A Department of Housing spokesman said 2022 saw the highest level of housing expenditure ever in a single year, with almost €3.5 billion expended on housing, representing an increase of 21 per cent on 2021.

The €3.5 billion figure refers to current and capital spending.

“However, the impacts on the housing spend during 2020-2022 arose as a direct result of challenges arising from the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on the construction sector, with sites closed at times and, also, the unprecedented and unexpected challenges arising from the Russian war on Ukraine,” he said.

“This resulted in delays in the pace of project completion due to the need to address the negative impacts on construction cost inflation, energy and fuel prices and supply-chain issues etc,” he said.

However, Mr Ó Broin said Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has repeatedly claimed that €4 billion of capital funding was spent on social and affordable homes last year, including Government voted expenditure, loans to AHBs and LDA expenditure.

“However the real figure is just over €3 billion, showing a 25 per cent shortfall,” he said. “Minister O’Brien is responsible for massive underspending in his affordable housing budgets as well as a significant underspend in his social housing budget.

“He has also presided over low spending by the Land Development Agency as schemes like Project Tosaigh are way behind schedule. At a time when housing need is so high and other Government departments and agencies are overspending their capital budgets, it is hard to understand and impossible to justify why Darragh O’Brien simply can’t ensure that every single cent committed to social and affordable housing delivery is not being spent.”

The department typically funds local authorities and AHBs to build social homes through the Social Housing Investment Programme, the Capital Advance Leasing Facility and the Capital Assistance Scheme.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times