Housing completion stats must be independently verified – McGrath

25 April 2017
By Bryan T. Smyth

2016 new homes built: 2,076 units or 14,932?

Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesperson Michael McGrath has said it is time for the statistics on the completion of new housing units to be independently verified in order that policy making can be based on accurate and reliable data.

Deputy McGrath commented, “At a time of an unprecedented housing crisis, we are faced with a situation where we have wildly different estimates of how many new housing units are actually being built in the country. It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the traditional method of measuring new housing output by connections to the electricity grid needs to be urgently reviewed.

“Recent census data showed that the housing stock increased by only 8,800 units in the five year period to April 2016. Over the same period, there were almost six times as many connections – 51,329 – to the electricity grid. Taking 2016 as the most recent example, the Department of Housing claims that 14,932 new housing units were built.

“However, documents released under Freedom of Information show that only 2,076 new housing units were actually completed according to the Department’s Building Management Control System (BMCS).

“According to the BMCS records, 1,228 of the 2,076 homes actually built were one-off houses, leaving just 848 new units built in multi-unit developments in 2016. This includes a staggeringly low figure of just 68 new units in all of Dublin and 21 in Cork – numbers confirmed by the relevant local authorities.

“These wildly divergent figures seriously call into question Minister Coveney’s assertion that the target of delivering 25,000 new homes per year will be met at the end of next year. The large discrepancy between these figures needs to be addressed by the department so we can ascertain the actual number of homes built and measure how effective the government’s housing policy is.

“It is time to review how we measure new house building to ensure the data captures the construction of new homes. As the State’s statistical body, the CSO would seem the obvious place for such data to be compiled. We cannot afford to stumble along making policy decisions based on data that does not reflect the reality of new home building across the country,” concluded McGrath.

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