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Housing; Local Government and Heritage | Private and public housing output programmes

To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage the further steps that can be taken to dramatically increase the housing output to meet the requirements of both the public and private housing programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage the degree to which housing needs continue to be met by local authorities and the private sector; if sufficient progress is being made to make adequate impact on the market needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

While the Government and I recognise that there remain some challenges to overcome, one year on from its publication, the Housing for All plan is delivering through increased housing supply; a range of affordable purchase and rental measures; new initiatives to tackle homelessness; and ongoing, long-term reforms of the housing and planning systems.

Increasing housing supply and delivering sustainable, affordable homes for people is the Government’s top priority. Housing for All is a plan with real ambition, guaranteed investment and fresh ideas to deliver housing for real people and create a long-term sustainable housing system. Guaranteed State investment of over €4 billion a year in housing is aimed at increasing supply, which in turn will help increase access to affordable housing to buy or rent.

Housing supply is increasing, despite unprecedented challenges. Since the middle of 2021, over 54,000 new homes have been either built (24,916) or commenced (29,343). Last year, 9,183 social homes were provided.

This increase in supply will be key to meeting demand, moderating price inflation, and addressing affordability for those wishing to rent or buy their own home.

Among the main measures delivered since Housing for All was launched in September 2021 are:

  • A Government budget of €4 billion for investment in housing in 2022, with a further €4 billion committed for 2023. The 2022 budget is an increase of 20% on 2021;
  • The introduction of four affordable purchase initiatives: First Home scheme; a local authority-provided Affordable Purchase scheme; a revised Local Authority Home Loan scheme; the Project Tosaigh scheme by the Land Development Agency;
  • A new Croí Cónaithe (Cities) Fund to address the current viability challenges and activate housing supply at density in city centres through the delivery of 5,000 apartments;
  • The rollout of Cost Rental, a new form of State-backed secure, long-term rental tenure through which rents are aimed at a minimum of 25% below open market rates;
  • Significant funding to assist local authority affordable housing delivery, for purchase and rent, through the Affordable Housing Fund (AHF). To date, more than 1,000 local authority affordable purchase homes have been approved for funding under the AHF;
  • Further protections for renters including legislation enacted last year that caps any rent increases in a Rent Pressure Zone at 2% per annum pro rata when the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices is higher;
  • To reduce current cost pressures in construction and increase standardisation, the government and the Construction Sector Group have commissioned a study on the cost of construction;
  • The Government also implemented the Inflation Co-Operation Framework, which sees the State bearing up to 70% of the additional inflationary costs on public works contracts;
  • Legislative underpinning to a new requirement that residential houses be ring-fenced for individual buyers – almost 16,000 units restricted to single purchasers or social and affordable housing by mid-May as a result of restrictions on permissions, with legislative provision incorporated in housing strategies and development plans going forward;
  • To increase supply, legislation introducing a Residential Zoned Land Tax (commencing in 2024 following publication of maps showing land in scope). Coupled with legislation being developed to introduce Land Value Sharing and Urban Development Zones, these reforms will help (1) activate vacant land zoned and serviced for housing (2) reduce land hoarding that drives up the value of land and cost of housing and (3) ensure greater community gain from land value increases. Community gain will secured through a proportion of the uplift in land values for the provision of infrastructure to support development and, where appropriate, social and affordable housing;
  • To tackle vacancy, the Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund provides a new Vacant Properties Refurbishment Grant; a new Town Centre First policy and changes to the Fair Deal Scheme to remove disincentives to renting or selling vacant property;
  • Measures to increase construction sector capacity, including greater investment to increase the availability of apprenticeships and training, international recruitment initiatives and the new ‘Future Building’ initiative to spearhead activation and recruitment for the sector;
  • A number of significant measures to accelerate research and innovation in the sector, including Enterprise Ireland’s new Built to Innovate Fund, a €5 million investment for the establishment of a new Construction Technology Centre, and the turning the sod on a new Modern Methods of Construction Demonstration Park, which will focus on increasing specialised training capacity and allow us to better respond to skills gaps in the construction sector;
  • More resources have been provided to local authorities to deliver social and affordable housing, including sanction for additional housing posts; the streamlining of pre-construction procurement and delivery of social housing (including the de-risking of potential delays) by local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies; the issuing of guidelines to improve the design and delivery of housing, and ensure the delivery of social and affordable housing is based on need and demand;
  • The enactment of the Regulation of Providers of Building Works Act to provide a statutory register for builders

While global and external challenges have emerged since Housing for All was published in September 2021, the Government and I remain focused on achieving the targets set out therein. As committed to last year, when Housing for All was launched, the Government will review and update the actions in the plan. The updated actions will be published in the autumn. This will allow us to respond to these challenges and redouble our focus on prioritising measures to activate and accelerate the delivery of housing supply.

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