Social housing receives welcome boost in Budget 2015

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The Government will invest in housing for the first time since 2009. Photo: Raymond Norris
The Government will invest in housing for the first time since 2009. Photo: Raymond Norris

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin announced that the Government plans to build 10,000 social housing units over the next four years.

The €2.2 billion sum will be the first major investment in housing by the Government since 2009.

“The Government is determined to meet the scale of investment commensurate with the challenge,” said Minister Howlin in his Budget speech on Tuesday.

Dublin is in the midst of a serious housing crisis with property prices shooting up by almost 33 per cent in the capital over the past year. Rent prices have also shot up as supply continues to fail to meet demand.

Irish social housing charity, Threshold, believes the investment is a good start to solving the current housing crisis.

“The commitments in today’s Budget announcement will not, unfortunately, be enough to fully address the current housing crisis,” said Bob Jordan, the Chief Executive of Threshold. “However, they are a significant first step. As the economy improves, we hope to see further evidence that the Government is truly committed to investing in social housing.”

However The Simon Communities, an organisation that supports homeless people, were concerned that the government’s social housing proposals do not go far enough to solving the crisis.

“While there is an increase in the budget for social housing investment this will yield 7,500 new homes next year which is only 8.3 percent of the 90,000 households currently on the social housing waiting list,” said Niamh Randall, the national spokesperson for the Simon Communities. “We are deeply concerned about the chronic shortage of housing.”

Landlords also received a boost as the home renovation scheme was extended to rented property.

Senator Aideen Hayden who is the Chairperson of Threshold praised the decision to include rental properties under the Home Renovation Incentive Scheme.

“The extension of the Home Renovation Incentive scheme now gives added impetus to those who own rental properties that are in need of up-grading and repair, and we hope to see landlords availing of this scheme to improve standards in private rented accommodation,” Senator Hayden said.

There was good news for first-time buyers in the Budget also, as people saving up for a mortgage deposit will get a DIRT exemption of up to 20 per cent of the value of a house.

In other news concerning property, €66 million will be spent in support services for people who are struggling to pay the water charges. There will also be a tax relief of around €100 for Irish households on their water bill.

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