Rebuilding Ireland published in July 2016 set ambitious targets to deal with the chronic under-supply of housing to alleviate the housing and homelessness crisis Ireland currently faces. Over the period 2016-2021 the plan is that 47,000 new social housing units would be added to the national stock by both Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) and local authorities.
Declan Dunne, Chief Executive Officer of Respond! Housing said:
“We welcome this level of ambition in Rebuilding Ireland which we intend to match with our own new build and acquisition plans. However, we remain concerned that certain obstacles to the use of existing housing stock, to effective land management, to the building and acquisition of new homes and the creation of communities require urgent budgetary measures in order that the targets in Rebuilding Ireland can be achieved.
In our pre-budget submission to the Ministers of Finance and Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government we maintain that building costs remain prohibitively high, land scarce and that AHBs and local authorities require certainty on the financial implications of the Action Plan in order to fully play our part in the delivery of the plan. We have asked the Government to priortise the following measures:
- Publish 5-year multi-annual financial plan to accompany Rebuilding Ireland
- Increase the Vacant Site Levy to 10% or 2% above the increase in the price of the site and collect this money in 2017 to maximise use of derelict or vacant sites
- Set the VAT rate for new social housing projects at 0%
- Reduce the VAT on materials and services for the renovation of vacant houses to 13.5%
- Waive developer contributions on social housing
- €500 million for a ‘Repair and Lease’ scheme calculated on a cost-per square metre to house 10,000 families on the housing lists
- Carry out an urgent audit of the Building Control Amendment Regulations (BCAR) with a view to reducing the major cost this kind of self-certification represents
- Link developer levies to proximity to services including water, transport, schools…
- Publish infrastructural investment plan alongside Rebuilding Ireland
- Provide for the Special Purpose Vehicle to allow for investment from the Irish League of Credit Unions towards social housing projects
- Increase investment in Warmer Homes and Better Energy Community Schemes to carry out energy upgrades on existing stock to alleviate fuel poverty
- Increase supports targeted to those on low incomes including the Back to Education Allowance and childcare subventions
- Neighbourhood Activation Fund pilot to support integrated estates of mixed tenure
In essence, we are looking for detailed reforms to reduce the cost of building, to make better use of our land and to put social housing building programmes on a sound financial footing into the future.
We are committed to implementing the provisions of Rebuilding Ireland but suggest investment plans are required in order to make the ambitions in this plan a reality on the ground.”
See Respond!’s full submission here