Sunday 22 October 2017

There is no spin on house-building stats, insists minister

Housing Minister Simon Coveney said the number of liveable houses increased by 15,000 last year. Photo: PA
Housing Minister Simon Coveney said the number of liveable houses increased by 15,000 last year. Photo: PA
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Housing Minister Simon Coveney has hit out at attempts "to catch the Government out" over the number of new homes being built.

The minister said figures from his department showing 14,932 new units in 2016 were accurate, despite reports the actual number could be less than half that.

Mr Coveney said his statistics were based on the same criteria as has been used by governments for decades, which is the number of new ESB connections.

"If we change the way we calculate that, then we have to change it retrospectively right the way through the records in terms of data.

"We're just using the same method as has been used for decades. That's the way to compare like with like," he said.

Read more: Simon Coveney: We're breaking down the walls that are slowing supply of homes

The minister was responding to a report in the 'Sunday Business Post' which claimed the level of house-building was far lower than suggested.

It noted that only 3,505 'certificates of compliance on completion' were issued last year.

But Mr Coveney said: "I don't know why they keep pushing that story. We use the same completion figures that we've used since the 1970s and we haven't changed that."

The minister said his strategy for encouraging development was working and the number of liveable houses increased by 15,000 last year.

"People will always question how stats are put together. From my perspective, it's important that we always look at trends accurately.

"People seem to be trying to catch the Government out here by saying 'well, this house was physically built last year'. But it got occupied last year because it was previously part of a ghost estate or an unfinished apartment block," he said.

"The case is still the case. It wasn't previously in use in recent years or months and now it's got an ESB connection and it's being occupied or sold or rented. It's a new completion as far we're concerned. I'm not hiding anything. This is not the Government trying to spin something."

Mr Coveney argued that anybody who followed construction trends couldn't argue "against the fact that activity has increased dramatically".

Irish Independent

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