Approved housing bodies have warned an Oireachtas Committee that their capacity to deliver social housing will be curtailed by a change to their funding status. 

In 2018, Eurostat reclassified 14 Approved housing bodies (AHBs) as part of the local government sector, which means their funding remains on the Government's balance sheet. 

Two organisations representing the sector, the Irish Council for Social Housing and The Housing Alliance, were before the Oireachtas Housing Committee today. 

"In our view classification remains a significant issue, which will have long-term effects on the
sector," said Donal McManus, CEO of the Irish Council for Social Housing.

Declan Dunne, Chair of the Housing Alliance, also warned that the re-classification would have negative consequences for the funding of AHBs in the medium to long-term and would limit the capacity of Housing Alliance members to source funds from Government or external sources.

Mr Dunne said the move would in turn lead to an increase in dependency on the private sector to respond to the shortage of affordable housing, particularly through the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).

The Irish Council for Social Housing comprises 260 Approved Housing Bodies and has a target of delivering 15,000 social homes by 2021. The Housing Alliance - which includes Clúid Housing; Circle Voluntary Housing; Co-operative Housing Ireland; Oaklee Housing; Respond and Tuath Housing - delivered over 3,500 homes between 2017 and 2018. 

The organisations said they welcomed the commitment of Ministers Eoghan Murphy and Damien English to work towards the return of all AHBs to off-balance sheet status.

However, in the 18 months since the Central Statistics Office decision, and subsequent Eurostat confirmation, the committee was told that there has been little concrete progress in relation to undertaking a thorough review of the decision or a change management programme to reverse it.

"We are asking all the arms of the state to help us address this," Mr McManus told the committee.