July 7, 2020 / 10:34 AM / a month ago

Irish housebuilding to fall by one-third due to COVID-19: central bank

FILE PHOTO: A new housing development in Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland January 30, 2020. REUTERS/Lorraine O'Sullivan/File Photo

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Housebuilding in Ireland is likely to fall by at least one-third over three years due to COVID-19 disruptions and could fall by half in the event of a second wave of infections, a senior central bank official forecast on Tuesday.

A scarcity of supply has led to rapid rises in rents and levels of homelessness in recent years in Ireland, whose economy was booming until the coronavirus crisis shut it down at the end of March.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Ireland, the central bank forecast 88,000 new homes would be built over three years: 26,000 in 2020, 30,000 in 2021 and 32,000 in 2022.

That is likely to fall by around 10,000 for each of the three years, Director of Economics and Statistics Mark Cassidy told a parliamentary committee, a cumulative fall of just over one-third.

Analysts say around 35,000 homes are needed a year to meet demand.

“We are well short of producing enough housing for our medium-term requirements, so this will exacerbate the situation,” Cassidy said.

A second wave of COVID-19 infections in Ireland could increase the fall in supply over three years from 30,000 to 45,000, Cassidy said, a fall of more than half of the original 88,000 forecast.

Housebuilding in 2022 would fall from around 32,000 to 15,000 in the severe scenario, he said.

Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Alex Richardson

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