Minister of State in the Department of Housing says it has the policies, scale and investment to address our housing crisis
Minister of State Peter Burke yesterday welcomed the new Housing for All Government policy, the 130 page document which outlines Government’s plans to deliver increased level of housing and which runs until 2030.
The Longford Westmeath Fine Gael public representative says the new initiatives for affordable housing, cost rental, social and private delivery will see the huge demand for housing met over the coming years, with targets of 300,000 new homes by the end of 2030. The plan commits €40 billion euro, the highest ever multi annual commitment, which will come from exchequer funding, the Housing and Finance Agency as well as the LDA.
“This plan will see a new affordable housing scheme established, whereby people currently locked out of the housing market can purchase homes at affordable prices, either through the Local Authority or privately. A Cost Rental Scheme is being introduced for the first time in this country, where households who earn less than €82,000 can enter into a rental agreement where the rent is set at a 25% reduction of market levels.
“Social housing build has been ramped up significantly in the last number of years, we can see the evidence of this in every county in the country. More needs to be built to keep up with demand and to house the increased numbers on our social housing list, and the plan outlines that 90,000 more social homes will be built by 2030.
“There are also elements on the planning side, which fall under my jurisdiction. I am bringing legislation forward which aims to strike a balance in relation to Judicial Review, so that spurious objections to planning permission can have a less of a detrimental affect on our ambitious housing and development plans. While there always must be an opportunity for citizens to be heard and consulted in relation to development, at present the system is weighted far too much in favour of objectors and NGOs with very few members and who face no costs.
“There also is a new scheme which sees sites with planning permissions in place be incentivised to move, but only where developers are making the units available for purchase on the open market. This will significantly aid the activation of 80,000 planning permissions nationwide which have been granted but not yet commenced.
“As Minister with responsibility for housing for older person and people with disabilities, I am eager to see more units being developed in both the private and social housing sector. Under the new plan, Local Authorities will have to publish an action plan in December of this year, outlining how many people they currently have on their social housing list, a breakdown of the age and number of people with disabilities, how many units they need to build to cater for these numbers and how and when they will meet this demand. For the first time, we will know exactly who needs social housing and where it is needed, expressed within a plan which clearly states how this will be delivered. This is a really positive step and the outcome of significant work done by both the Department and our Councils in establishing the exact numbers and projections for housing.
“I also welcome increased protection for renters, with rent increases now linked to the rate of inflation, which is approx. 0.5%, rather than 4% annually allowed to be charged in Rent Pressure Zones. Tenancies of indefinite duration will be progressed and increased regulation to curtail the expansion of short-term leasing on websites such as Air B n B in areas which have constrained supply of rental properties. This is urgently needed in Westmeath and across the midlands, where rental property numbers continue to dwindle.
“We are working too to increase the number of construction workers and specialised skillsets within the industry, as without these skills, we will not be able to reach these targets. Numbers of construction workers are still down since the pre-Covid March 2020 levels. We are working with the CIF to increase these numbers, we are ramping up investment in apprenticeships to 10,000 per year.
“The housing market continues to present challenges but we will not be found wanting when it comes to policies and investment over the coming years. It is government’s number one priority and we must now work to put these policies into practice immediately”.