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Councils hire staff for social housing builds

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House prices on the rise.

House prices on the rise.

House prices on the rise.

Councils will soon start hiring additional expert staff to work on the building of 35,000 social houses.

The Coalition has given local authorities permission to recruit 100 engineers and architects, with another 200 to follow in the coming months.

The extra professionals will work on the Social Housing 2020 strategy, which the councils have been focusing on since the start of the year.

The plan aims to provide 35,000 new social housing units at a cost of €3.8bn by 2020.

The strategy also includes targets on meeting the housing needs of an extra 75,000 households through local authorities paying private landlords, using the Housing Assistance Payment and Rental Accommodation Schemes.

To deliver on the plan, local authorities will need additional experts, such as architects, surveyors, planners and engineers.

The Department of the Environment now has the power to approve the recruitment of new staff for the housing sections of local authorities.

Recruitment can be signed off at assistant secretary level in the department and doesn't need ministerial approval.

The council just needs to give a clear explanation as to why it needs the specific expertise for permission to recruit.

Already, the hiring of 100 new staff has been authorised, with another 200 expected to be sanctioned in the coming months.

Rather than clerical staff, the experts will work directly on the planning for the new housing projects.

Local authorities are engaged with the Office of Government Procurement to source technical expertise.

"Given the lack of a significant build programme since 2008, it was always going to be a challenge to ramp up delivery, but the recruitment of expert staff is a crucial step in that process," a government source said last night.

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Irish Independent