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FactCheck: How many new social housing units does the government plan to build?

Richard Bruton made the claim, and a FactCheck reader asked us to step in, so we did.


RICHARD BRUTON STOOD in for Enda Kenny at Leaders Questions in the Dáil last Thursday, and faced queries about the government’s housing policy, from Labour leader Brendan Howlin.

During their exchange, the Education Minister claimed that the government had committed to building 47,000 new social housing units.

On Twitter, BRegsBlog brought the claim to our attention, so we checked it out.

(Send your FactCheck requests to factcheck@thejournal.ie, tweet @TJ_FactCheck, or send us a DM).

Claim: The government plans to build 47,000 new social housing units by 2021

What was said:

You can watch a short video below, containing an excerpt of Richard Bruton’s comments, and a breakdown of the basic facts.

But for our purposes, we’re interested in these remarks.

Bruton was responding to a question from Labour leader Brendan Howlin about Daft.ie’s finding that annual rent inflation had reached the highest level since the company began compiling rental reports in 2002.

The Minister for Education replied:

I think the real solution to this is increased supply – that is the real focus of the approach that the government has been taking.
It’s real supply coming from social housing – for the first time we’ve committed to 47,000 new housing builds on social housing, after a period when there was virtually no social housing constructed.

The Facts

Source: Oireachtas.ie

In response to our request for evidence, a spokesperson for Minister Bruton directed FactCheck to the government’s housing plan, Rebuilding Ireland.

That plan contains a commitment that:

  • “47,000 social housing units will be delivered under Rebuilding Ireland’s plan by 2021
  • “+26,000 of these homes will be exclusively built as social housing”
  • “11,000 homes, many of which will be will be newly-built, will be acquired by local authorities (LAs) and Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) directly from the market or the Housing Agency”
  • “10,000 homes will be leased by LAs and AHBs. 5,000 of these will be sourced via the National Treasury Management Agency’s Special Purpose Vehicle. A further 5,000 units will be secured via a pilot Repair & Leasing Initiative and under long-term lease arrangements by LAs and AHBs”.

As you can see, the government has committed to deliver 47,000 social housing units by 2021, but it has committed to build 55% of those – around 26,000.

They plan to make the remainder available as social housing through various other methods that don’t involve housing construction, or “new builds”, as Bruton put it in the Dáil.

The minister’s subsequent contextualisation – “after a period when there was virtually no social housing constructed” - suggests that while he intended to refer to planned social housing construction, he incorrectly used the figure related to planned social housing delivery.

We rate his claim FALSE. As our verdicts guide explains, this means: “The claim is inaccurate”.

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This is the fourth time we’ve fact-checked a claim by Richard Bruton. He now has one verdict of TRUE, two verdicts of FALSE, and one verdict of UNPROVEN.

You can read his FactCheck File here.

FactCheck File Richard Bruton 17_02_21

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here.

For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here.

About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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