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Housing supply and affordability are critical in Ireland’s recovery

Ireland urgently needs to resume construction and supply of affordable new homes. Our competitiveness, ability to create jobs and social inclusion can be damaged by the low level of supply and high cost of homes.

Endorsing the Government’s identification of affordability as a primary goal of housing policy, the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) yesterday provided Government with a report on housing supply and land management. The Council emphasises the importance of not returning to the speculative and unstable system of home building, which proved unaffordable, unsustainable, ineffective and ultimately economically and socially damaging.

The report Housing Supply and Land: Driving Public Action for the Common Good analyses the multiple complex factors inhibiting construction of affordable homes. It concludes that these are best understood and addressed in the context of action to end the slow bicycle race in the Dublin construction and housing sector. The Council argues that some of the key capabilities and resources in NAMA, NTMA, relevant local authorities and other agencies be combined to drive the supply of additional, attractive and permanently affordable homes for renting.

In that context, public agencies should lead in-depth exploration and action on the reasons why the costs of housing provision and construction in Ireland make it so difficult to provide affordable homes of the right kind in the right locations. Drawing on recent work by McKinsey Global, NESC notes that there is scope to cut building and maintenance costs in the construction sector by embracing modern and innovative technology, such as Building Information Modelling.

It will then be necessary to identify and address any remaining institutional or organisational gaps in land management, housing supply and urban infrastructure. As well as avoiding the past pattern of boom and bust there is a need to find better ways of planning and funding urban infrastructure and social amenities.

NESC also published supporting research carried out by Dr. Philip Lawton from NUI Galway. The study, Socially Integrated Housing and Sustainable Urban Communities, analyses efforts to create integrated mixed-income housing in Adamstown, Dublin Docklands and Fatima Mansions/Herberton. The analysis shows that important reforms of the past 15 years, such as strategic development zones (SDZs), remain incomplete, limiting the achievement of integrated housing.

Note to Editors
The report was circulated to Government departments and noted by the Cabinet at its meeting Wednesday July 22nd. The full report and Dr. Lawton’s research was published on NESC Website, Thursday July 23rd 2015.

For further information please contact Paula Hennelly: or tel: 01-8146332

This report is part of NESC’s contribution to Government development of housing policy and the work underway as part of Construction 2020. It is the fourth report published by NESC on housing policy over the past year. The first of these reports, Social Housing at the Crossroads, looked at the actions needed to support the development and financing of social housing in Ireland; it was published in June 2014. The second report, Homeownership and Rental: What Road is Ireland On? examined the evolving balance between homeownership and rental accommodation; this second report was published in December 2014. The third report Ireland’s Rental Sector: Pathways to Secure Occupancy and Affordable Supply, examined the development of the rental sector, with particular focus on permanent affordable rent.

Recent NESC work on housing builds on earlier work by the Council. In particular, in 2004 the Council carried out a major study on housing called Housing in Ireland: Performance and Policy.

About the National Economic and Social Council (NESC)
The National Economic & Social Council (NESC) was established in 1973. Its function is to analyse and report to the Taoiseach on strategic issues relating to the efficient development of the economy and the achievement of social justice. The Council is chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach. It comprises representatives of trade unions, employer bodies, farm organisations, community and voluntary organisations, environmental organisations, key Government departments and has eight independent experts.