House figure row deepens as Census shows stock up 8k
A ROW over how many new homes are being built deepened yesterday after it emerged Ireland’s housing stock grew by just 8,800, from 2011 to 2016.
Department of Housing figures claim there were 51,000 ‘house completions’ over the five-year period.
But this number has been criticised as it is based on the number of homes being connected to the electricity network – rather actual new builds. Critics have pointed out that many of these homes are simply vacant homes being reconnected to the grid.
This claim was bolstered yesterday when Census figures revealed only 33,436 new homes were actually built during this period, while the actual stock of inhabitable homes grew by a mere 8,800 or a tiny 0.4%. The small number of new builds contrasts starkly with the previous five years when 225,232 homes were built. The Institute of Profes- sional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV) said the Census figures were in ‘sharp contrast’ to the department’s.
IPAV boss Pat Davitt said: ‘There is a difference of 17,893 between the two figures.’
There have been severe doubts about the Department of Housing figures for some time because they are based on connections to the ESB grid. That housing policy could be based on such suspect figures is astounding.
‘The minister [for housing Simon Coveney] and the Government need to dispense with the department’s figures as a true measure of new builds and bring in a proper, transparent housing register, and do so immediately.’
A CSO spokesman said its housing figures did not count houses which have become derelict, or whose use was changed from residential.
‘Dwellings that have fallen out of the housing stock don’t count. So, we’ve just had a net increase of 8,800 but, among the occupied houses, around 34,000 indicated their home was built from 2011 onwards but it’s not comprehensive because you might have houses that were vacant but we’ve no idea when they were built. It’s just a growth in housing.’ Meanwhile, Mr Coveney said his department’s previous annual target of 25,000 new homes will have to increase. He said: ‘I think the figure needs to be actually about 35,000 per year because we’re seeing population growth of about 40,000 and 50,000 at the moment.’ He said developers’ ‘willingness’ was there now and planning applications for apartments in Dublin were ‘up 200%’.
The number of builders dropped by almost 180,000 in the first three months of 2013, to just 35% of the numbers in 2007. But the industry recorded the fastest rate of jobs growth in the period since, gaining 39,200 jobs.