Delivery of housing ‘will only strengthen’ from 2023 onward, officials claim

Department of Housing is confident of surpassing the near-30,000 completions of 2022

The Department of Housing is confident its policies can contribute to the completion of more new homes in 2023 than last year’s figure of almost 30,000 despite inflation, rising energy costs and interest rates.

The senior official with responsibility for implementing the Housing for All programme will tell an Oireachtas Committee on Tuesday that delivery of housing will “only strengthen throughout 2023 and beyond”.

In an opening statement sent to the committee, Feargal Ó Coigligh has said that there has been significant progress in delivery since Housing for All was published 20 months ago.

However, he added that the “landscape has also changed quite considerably. In the past year alone, this department has contended with the impacts from the war in Ukraine, rising construction costs, increased energy prices and rising interest rates”.


He said the department has tried to remain focused and agile in delivering new homes as it has adapted to those emerging issues.

A total of 29,852 new homes were completed in 2022, an increase of over 40 per cent from 2019, the last full pre-pandemic year, Mr Ó Coigligh has said.

He said a further 26,957 houses were started (but not yet completed) during 2022.

The data on social homes for 2022, published yesterday, showed a 12 per cent increase compared to 2021 from 9,169 to 10,263.

“More new-built social homes were delivered last year than in any year since the mid 1970s, said Mr Ó Coigligh in the opening statement.

He said it also represented “the first year of affordable housing delivery in a generation”.

He added: “From a standing start, real progress has been made in 2022 with the initial delivery of affordable homes arising out of the new affordable housing schemes introduced in the 2021 Affordable Housing Act. This delivery will only strengthen throughout 2023 and beyond.

“The department is completely focused on the scaling up delivery of new homes, be they social, affordable, for the private rental sector or for private owner occupation.”

The department has commenced what Mr Ó Coigligh described as a “comprehensive review of the private rental sector”.

He also confirmed the Government is exploring legislative solutions that might give tenants a “first right of refusal” if a landlord is selling a property.

However, legal sources have already stated that any legislation in that area could not compel the landlord to accept the bid but would allow them to reject it and go to the open market.

Separately, Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien was “spinning” figures on housing output.

“Over his three years as Minister, he has failed to deliver over 8,500 social homes he promised. That’s exactly the same number of households currently in emergency accommodation.

“The Minister can spin it any way he likes, but the reality is if he doesn’t meet his target as he is not doing, more people become homeless, more people are unable to rent, to buy, and more young people are forced either to give up jobs or to emigrate,” Mr Ó Broin told RTÉ's Morning Ireland.

The housing issue will dominate many of the debates in the Dáil this week, on its resumption after the Easter break.

Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats have tabled Private Members’ motions on housing.

Social Democrats housing spokesman Cian O’Callaghan has called for a Vacant Homes Tax that would levy 10 per cent of the value of the property each year, compared to the current 0.3 per cent rate.

Mr O’Callaghan said a punitive 10 per cent rate would quickly free up homes for sale and for rent. “Our motion calls on the Government to implement a vacancy tax with teeth,” he said.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times