From Social Housing annihilation to made-up stories.
The Labour party is making some outrageous claims in its newly published 2015 social housing report. I don’t need to highlight again how desperate the situation has become after the constant and unrelenting attacks on housing provision, in a deliberate and near total dismantlement of social housing policy by the Fine Gael/Labour coalition.
Here are the claims made by Alan Kelly:
Let’s review them one by one (Titles in bold):
Over 13,000 new social housing units/sets of keys were delivered in 2015, an 86% increase in unit delivery above 2014
This outlandish statement was first made on Claire Byrne Live a week ago by Fine Gael Minister for Housing Paudie Coffey:
“It’s factual that 2,000 people actually exited homelessness in the last year. In the last year as well, this Government and, you know, this society has provided 13,000 additional housing units for people. That’s up 86% on previous years. So progress is being made but not enough obviously.”
Needless to say, RTE or Claire Byrne did not challenge any of these figures.
Of course this is plain misleading for there were only…
28 social houses built in 2015:
Fast forward to today and the publication of Alan Kelly’s report, the same made-up figures are published in this headline from the Irish Times:
After challenging the journalist, she modified the headline to “delivered”:
The Irish Times story was then modified later in the afternoon:
From units built, to delivered, to sets of keys. These statistics in fact mean that 13,000 people were taken off the housing list, and offered a house from the existing stock. This in turn is inconsequential given that this waiting list has itself risen to its highest levels in history due to lack of housing and investment, and stands at 130,000.
Exchequer Funding for Social Housing in 2015 was €800 million, an increase of €210 million on 2014.
Alan Kelly’s own figures were published in a Dáil Éireann Debate and provide data for the period January 2015 to 6 November 2015, on funds provided to Local Authorities:
-Construction of Social Housing Units €9,302,730
-Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) €69,582,930
- Social Housing Current Expenditure Programme €17,538,348
Further information on where these €800m might come from is provided in this Dáil Debate from the 6th of October 2015, in an answer to Richard Boyd Barrett:
“In 2015, the total housing provision will result in almost €800 million being provided under the various housing programmes, of which some €119 million is being self-funded by certain local authorities arising from the introduction of Local Property Tax.
To date in 2015, over €248.4 million in Exchequer funding has been expended and a further €62.8m in respect of housing services hasbeen self-funded by local authorities from Local Property Tax.”
Whichever amount is correct (€96m or €300m) it certainly isn’t €800m
420 staff were recruited by local authorities to deliver more social housing units as quickly as possible
-3,000 such jobs were lost in the period 2011–2015. One has to wonder what took so long in the middle of a housing crisis.
2,700 vacant social housing units were brought back into use through an intensive programme of works funded by the Exchequer
-This is hard to believe, as a Freedom of Information request by Fianna Fail showed in late September 2015 that 2,600 Council Homes were sitting empty, and that a repair budget available to Local Authorities had been slashed by €6.15 million.
A Department of Environment spokesman admitted at the time that
“This year’s programme was for at least 1,000 (voids returned to stock) based on what local authorities said they needed.”
Funding has been approved and sites selected for the construction of over 5,000 new social housing units.
Yes. In the most deprived and remote areas of the capital. A Dublin councillor said the location of modular housing units in communities where there is “social disadvantage” could lead to “mini-ghettos” and “shanty towns”
NAMA has delivered 2,000 units by end 2015 for social housing through the special purpose vehicle called NARPS (National Asset Residential Property Services Ltd)
-These are not social houses. They did not come from the Government and will not be handed over to Local Authorities, as has been the case until now.
Instead, a “Special Purpose Vehicle” (Read for profit) will lease the units to Local Authorities and pocket rents to pass it along to property developers and landlords. These units will not augment the Local Authorities stock.
It is part of Alan Kelly’s Urban Regeneration & Housing Bill 2015:
“Deputy Boyd Barrett said the measures in the bill which allowed private developers to opt out of its obligation to transfer 10% (reduced from 20% in the bill) of any housing development to the ownership of local authorities and instead simply lease this proportion of any development to councils would result in “a virtual end to direct council house provision and cost the state hundreds of millions extra every year to enrich property developers and landlords.”
NAMA has invested €150m to date in acquiring these units — in addition to investing around €70m remediating and completing properties, many of which were unfinished housing developments
- Yes, but by Private funds for private profits.
In 2015, over €4 million capital funding was provided to local authorities for Traveller specific accommodation, which will rise to €5.5 million in 2016
-This is down from €70 million in 2008, a 93% collapse in funding.
Hardly an achievement.
In 2015 Exchequer funding for homeless services was €64.77 million, a 32% increase on the amount provided in 2014.
-The budget was for €55m, not €64.77m. And this was further cut in July by €18m
“The council requested funding of over €55m last April but have been informed by the Department of the Environment that it will get just €37m for this year.”
•At the end of Quarter 3 a total of 1,645 homeless individuals had transitioned to independent tenancies nationally. This compares with 1,491 for the same period in 2014 — a 10% increase in exits from homelessness
This is despicable on many levels. There are more than 7500 people homeless right now, including more than 1000 children under 8. The official number is 5,000 but that also turned out to be under-reported:
• The numbers sleeping rough in Dublin at end November 2015 had fallen by 46% since the year previous
-Where do Labour get these numbers is one thing, but to put it on an official statement proves how disconnected this party is from public life.