8th July 2014

Fine Gael TD for Kildare North, Anthony Lawlor, is questioning the level of Local Authority Average Unit Cost involved in refurbishing vacant units in County Kildare. Today (Tuesday) the Government announced that over 1,000 vacant units were to be refurbished into high quality family homes in 12 months, at a cost to the State of €15 million, however only 18 in Kildare are to be included in this scheme.

“Whilst I warmly welcome this initiative, I was disappointed to learn that Kildare would only benefit from 18 refurbished units through this scheme, particularly when one considers that over 6,000 people are currently on the housing list. When I looked at the nationwide figures, I noted that the Average Unit Cost in Kildare is one of the highest in the country, at €26,111. A total of €470,000 has been allocated to Kildare County Council but due to the high costs involved, this figure will only cover the refurbishment of 18 houses.

“In comparison, the refurbishment cost for South County Dublin is only €12,571 per unit and with a similar allocation of €440,000, 35 units will become available. In Cork City the unit cost is €17,228, in Galway City it is €16,094 and in similar commuter counties of Meath and Wicklow it is €19,871 and €21,538 respectively. The only Local Authorities with higher costs than Kildare are Wexford, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown and Kilkenny.

“I would therefore question why Kildare County Council are costing the refurbishment at such a high level and wonder if they have tendered competitively for this scheme in order that more houses could be released for the same amount of funding. Under the first stage of this scheme, announced last April, €701,000 was allocated to County Kildare and 49 units were to be refurbished at an average unit cost of only €14,306. Kildare County need to explain why the costs involved now are substantially higher, resulting in less houses being refurbished.

“Today’s announcement is part of of a year-long campaign driven by Minister O’Sullivan that will see €30m invested and nearly 2,000 vacant houses returned to beneficial use. The investment will create and sustain hundreds of jobs in the construction sector. In framing proposals local authorities were encouraged to examine the role that community based organisations who recruit, train and engage long-term unemployed people can play in the refurbishment programme.”