Vacant Site Levy increase welcome as Budget promises house building will increase

– Proof for all of us will be in numbers of keys handed over

Reacting to today’s Budget announcements by Finance Minister Paschal Donoghue, Respond Housing’s CEO Declan Dunne welcomed the increases in the Vacant Site Levy and other promised measures to increase housing supply.

“Hoarding of land by owners/developers is one of the main barriers for anyone trying to build housing in Ireland. Respond has argued that the Vacant Site Levy as it was originally designed was not keeping pace with increases in the price of land, particularly residentially zoned land in cities and towns. Today we are pleased that Minister Donoghue recognised this problem and is seeking to address it with a Vacant Site Levy that increases year-on-year if the land is not developed. Though land prices in some areas is increasing exponentially this is a clear signal to owners of vacant sites that they need to build on the much-needed land. It remains to be seen if the Levy can keep pace with land price increases but this is a good start.

Respond Housing also welcomes the increase in funding for homeless services by €18 million though this is a reflection unfortunately of the rising numbers of homeless families and individuals. We also welcome the increase in funding for the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Scheme, particularly in relation to the further rollout of HAP Place Finder to enable homeless families access secure accommodation.

“However, we know that Housing Assistance Payment is only a short-term solution to our homelessness crisis. It is only through a serious increase in social and affordable housing supply that we can truly tackle this crisis. I welcome the increase in ambition – from 47,000 to 50,000 social homes by 2021 – and the increase in funding. The challenge is to build at the scale the crisis requires. It is disappointing though that there was no mention in the Minister’s speech of a scheme for those who need help but whose income disqualifies them from social housing. Only though a mixture of tenure and incomes in our new development can we ensure true and lasting social integration.

“The proof of this Budget will be in actual house completions and new keys handed over in the coming years. Respond for our part will work with the Department and local authorities to build the social and affordable housing our country so dearly needs.”