To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the status of the Eurostat classification of approved housing bodies as on balance sheet; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
In April, the Minister for Finance published the Draft Stability Programme Update (SPU) for 2018. This included an analysis of the financial impact of the Eurostat decision to reclassify the majority of Tier 3 Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) as part of the local government sector. This was an important first step in the Government's assessment as to the impact of the Eurostat decision.
Following the SPU, further work has been on-going in order to fully assess the implications of the reclassification decision. My Department is continuing to engage with the Departments of Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, with technical support from the Housing Finance Agency (HFA) and the Housing Agency (HA), in order to ensure that AHBs can continue to fulfil their full potential in the delivery of the targets set out in the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan.
My Department is also engaging with the AHB sector and constructive discussions have taken place with representative bodies from the sector on the issue. The sector itself has engaged its own research on the matter, and my Department is evaluating that research as part of its ongoing wider consideration on the issue.
The AHB representative bodies have committed to continue to undertake further research and analysis into this issue over the coming months. This will assess the options available to create the necessary conditions to allow this classification decision to be revisited in the future. An important part of this exercise will be to examine what measures could be taken to develop the AHB sector in such a way so that it could be reclassified as being off the Government’s balance sheet in the longer term.
As previously noted, the Government continues to see a central role for the voluntary housing sector in contributing to delivery of social housing under Rebuilding Ireland. It is committed to using all mechanisms and schemes, including through the AHB sector, to ensure that we maintain the momentum towards meeting the ambitious 50,000 social housing target under the Action Plan.
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