Spinner’s List



Fine Gael’s junior environment minister Paudie Coffey

This morning, Fianna Fáil’s Barry Cowen claimed that, according to local authority figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the number of people on the social housing waiting list is 130,000 – 45 per cent higher than that of the Government’s official figure of 90,000.

Junior environment minister Paudie Coffey attempted to rebut those figures with Cathal MacCoille on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Cathal MacCoille: “We knew there were about 90,000 families and individuals on the social housing list, according to the Government’s own figures but Fianna Fáil say the figures they’ve obtained from the local authorities, under the Freedom of Information Act, show the true up-to-date figures for the number on that list is 130,000. We heard from Barry Cowen, of Fianna Fáil, earlier about this. On the line now is Paudie Coffey, the minister of state with responsibility for housing. Minister, good morning.”

Paudie Coffey: “Good morning to you Cathal.”

MacCoille: “Do you agree, first of all, with Fianna Fáil’s figures. Are they correct?”

Coffey: “I don’t agree with Fianna Fáil’s figures because really, essentially, what they are is just a snapshot in time, taken from the local authorities around the country. But, as we have discovered, and really, the reason we utilise the Housing Agency – which is an independent agency – that has research capabilities to capture reliable information. We utilise those figures and they’re the figures that the CSO and every other agency in the country utilises. The last time that they did an in-depth analysis and a robust assessment of the housing need in this country was in 2013. And they’re the figures that we have arrived at – the 90,000 that you’ve mentioned and we utilise that in our response to the social housing strategies that the Government announced last year.”

MacCoille: “Right. The only problem with that is obviously that’s a two-year-old figure. What’s wrong with those figures that Fianna Fáil are using to say, it’s not 90,000, it’s 130,000.”

Coffey: “Well the housing lists are changing all the time, Cathal. If Fianna Fáil were to ask the same question today as it did possibly a month or a few weeks ago, they would get a very different answer.”

MacCoille: “Yeah but ok. But what’s wrong with them asking, as a measure, as an accurate measure – if they are accurate – of what the situation was a month or two ago, when they put in these requests. Why is that figure not accurate?”

Coffey: “Various factors come into play and as I’ve said, the Housing Agency do a  robust analysis, they engage with every local authority who, in turn, do a critical assessment of every applicant on the housing list. And that means a contact with every person who’s circumstances may have changed in the first instance. Some people may have found employment as we see the employment figures rising and they would no longer have the need for social housing. So that’s just one example.”

MacCoille: “Yeah but we’re talking about… what I’m asking is… because you appear to be saying that the local authorities are keeping inaccurate figures, is that what you’re saying?

Coffey: “No that’s not what I’m saying…”

MacCoille: “So what are you saying?”

Coffey:The figures are changing all the time and I think that’s acknowledged by all parties…”

Talk over each other

MacCoille: “Yeah, ok, but can we just concentrate on the figures that Fianna Fáil got a month or two ago when they put in this request. Now, you’re not accepting those figures and what I’m asking you is: why don’t you accept those figures as a representation of what the situation was then?

Coffey: “Yeah, a lot of those figures would have duplicity in them. A lot of those people will have left the housing list even since, there are changes in people’s circumstances all the time. Sometimes people’s housing needs would increase, and sometimes it would be removed altogether, where people come off the list.”

MacCoille: “Right.”

Coffey: “Now it is reasonable to assume that it has risen since 2013, I will acknowledge that and that is why every year, from now on we will have reliable information captured by the Housing Agency which are the independent agency in this regard and that information will be used to inform Government policy, not only in terms of the social housing strategy but in other strategies and policies in terms of planning and the provision of housing…”

MacCoille:And when will we get those figures?”

Coffey: “Sorry? Excuse me, Cathal, sorry, repeat that.”

MacCoille:Sorry and when will we get those figures?

Coffey: “We already have the 2013 figures…”

MacCoille:Yeah, but up-to-date figures?

Coffey: “The social housing strategy has now been adopted and it’s being implemented to meet the needs of 110,000 houses in this country, not the 90,000, 110,000. Every year, from  2016, we will have reliable information, we will evaluate that and monitor progress in terms of how we’re meeting…”

MacCoille:So we’ll get an up-to-date figure next year?

Coffey: “An up-to-date that is reliable and accurate and provided by the Housing Agency.”

MacCoille:Any chance we’ll get it before the election?

Coffey: “Excuse me?”

MacCoille:Any chance we’ll get that up-to-date figure before the next general election?

Coffey: “The Housing Agency only this year published the national housing survey and now they are already engaging with local authority housing which measure the needs over the coming years.”

MacCoille:But what I’m asking you is: Is there any chance of getting an up-to-date figure for the number of people on the social housing list before the general election...”

Talk over each other

Coffey: “Neither I nor you know the date of the next general election so I can’t answer that.”

MacCoille: “We do…excuse me Minister, please, can we just concentrate on the basics, we know there will have to be a general election by April of next year and I’m asking you a simple question: is there any chance of getting an up-to-date figure for the number of people on the social housing list before April next year?

Coffey: “The Housing Agency will provide accurate data in 2016. I cannot give you that answer now, you know, over the airwaves. 2016 is set for a date for the general election. The Housing Agency are constantly reviewing and evaluating the housing need. The Government are focused on providing solutions to meet that need and that’s why we’ve committed €4billion over the next number of years to meet that need in social housing…”

Listen back in full here

Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie



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22 thoughts on “Spinner’s List

  1. dedeluded

    I’d not leave that clown in charge of drying paint. Buffon of a character. (the interviewee, not the interviewer).

  2. Dόn Pídgéόní

    I like that the new figures are incorrect because there is always churn but his figures from 2 years ago ago are the right ones. Mathematical magic there.

  3. scottser

    mcwilliams’s facebook yoke provides interesting stats from the CSO -according to the last census there are 289,451 VACANT properties in ireland, comprising 14.5% of total stock. out of that total, 59,400 were holiday homes. In any housing market you can expect around 6% to be vacant for whatever reason at any one time, and he estimates we are OVERsupplied by 110,000 units. it’s just that most property is owned by those who don’t need to live in it.

        1. Owen C

          Census was 2011. Think the chronic lack of building vs increasing population has burnt through a large amount of that oversupply. Hence the house price increases.

      1. Demon

        Not necessarily holiday homes. On just one side of one large square in Dublin’s suburbs, for instance, there are four substantial early-Victorian houses, each of which could provide homes for three families. One of those houses has been empty for some 20 years.

    1. classter

      More importantly most of these properties are in places where there is no demand. Some of these properties require extensive work in order to be habitable.

      We know we don’t have an ‘ordinary housing market’ at the moment. We know that we are a couple of years out from a cyclcial collapse which followed a mad building spree.

      McWilliams is deliberately playing silly buggers here. Is he really suggesting that the govt take large number of people off the streets in large urban areas and place them in unfinished ghost estates in the likes of Leitrim?

      1. scottser

        aside from the holiday homes, i would imagine that most of the vacant units he alludes to are either on the market or due to be sold. i doubt he’s suggesting that we simply commandeer private property from the owners and allocate it to those with a housing need. it does however point to huge gulf between ‘those who have’ and ‘those who don”t and the politics of keeping’ those who don’t’ without.

        having said that, if even half of these homes could be be compelled under new legislation to be rented out under the new HAP scheme, you could make serious headway in tackling this housing crisis.

        1. SomeoneElse

          But to suggest that holiday homes on Inishbofin would be a suitable location to house the homeless is a little silly.

      2. Zarathustra

        Leitrim’s a beautiful county, and wherever you drive you can see lakes [some with crannógs], rivers and mountains; I’d love to live there.

  4. newsjustin

    There was a DIT academic on the radio this morning who said the true figure of social housing need is lower than 90,000 and far, far lower than 130,000.

    Apparently, people are required to go on the list in some counties for all kinds of reasons, including some rent allowance…

    1. scottser

      those on rent supplement will eventually go onto the HAP scheme and their housing applications will be closed for the duration of the tenancy. what does this DIT dude say is the real figure?

    2. classter

      This is typical FF – pretending to be a competent opposition. They merely want to make it look like the govt is downplaying the problem & have no interest in pressurising the govt to get their fingers out of their collective holes to deal with it.

  5. Truth in the News

    There are well over 200 thousand with a lot more in an unfished state, isn’t that
    the cause of initial start of the recession, the housing bubble, an oversupply with
    no potential purchaser, however Coffey might fill them up with Refugees, will he
    send the rental bill to Angela, I fear he won’t, he’ll expect us to foot it.

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