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Minister defends ‘multifaceted’ Housing for All plan

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Minister defends ‘multifaceted’ Housing for All plan

Minister defends ‘multifaceted’ Housing for All plan
September 07
14:04 2021

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has defended the Housing for All plan as a “different” and “multifaceted” strategy in which the State was the biggest builder.

He said the plan, published on Thursday, was the largest social-housing building programme seen in the State and that local authorities are being “tooled up” so they can deliver new-build homes through their “housing delivery teams”.

The Government has pledged to spend €20 billion on housing over the next five years to deliver an average of 33,000 units a year in an ambitious plan to solve what Taoiseach Micheál Martin said was “a social emergency”.

If implemented as planned, the Housing for All strategy will see an additional 300,000 housing units by 2030 and make new housing affordable for tens of thousands of people currently shut out of the housing market.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland and Newstalk Breakfast on Friday, Mr O’Brien discussed the proposed Vacant House Tax, which, he said, would be introduced as soon as possible once it was determined why some properties were vacant.

It would not be fair to tax a vacant property where the owner was in long-term care, he said.

A survey was being conducted on vacant homes, Mr O’Brien said, and he expected to have the data by November. “We have to find out the reasons why they are vacant.” To bring forward a tax, data was required, he said, adding: “once that comes back in, we have committed to a vacant property tax”.

There were solutions, but change was not going to happen overnight, the Minister said. “We need a structured response.”

According to Mr O’Brien, a review of the previous housing plan, Rebuilding Ireland, would shortly be published with contributions “from those at the coal face”.

“This [Housing for All] may be plan number four, but it is different, it is multifaceted and multifunded.”

The Housing for All Plan contained 213 different action points and offered three different options, he added. Although the plan was a public-private combination, the State remained the “biggest builder”.

When asked about his alleged refusal to debate the plan with Sinn Féin’s housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin, Mr O’Brien said the plan was not about him nor Mr Ó Broin, that it was a “red herring” to say he would not debate the plan and that Sinn Féin had criticised the plan even before it was published.

“This is about the thousands who want to own their own home.”

The Minister said he would debate the plan with Mr Ó Broin and Social Democrats spokesman Cian O’Callaghan.

Earlier, on Morning Ireland, Mr O’Callaghan said the Government was already failing to deliver what it had set out in its manifesto and that the plan included fewer homes than had been promised in the last budget.

Targets needed to be met, he said. When asked about shortages of workers in the construction sector, Mr O’Callaghan said the Government should insist that apprentices be taken on as part of every contract.

“This is a missed opportunity,” Mr O’Callaghan said, adding the Government should prioritise the building of homes not data centres.

There was already considerable data on vacant homes so more was not required for the Government to act, he said. There should be “no fudging and no delay” in getting vacant homes back into use.

The Government’s housing plan anticipates a mixture of public and private investment in housing, with about half of all homes planned under the strategy provided by the State. It pledges that more than 90,000 social homes will be built by the end of the decade, plus almost 54,000 affordable and cost-rental homes.

The plan includes two affordable housing schemes with an expectation that there will be 4,000 such homes on average available each year of the plan.

Source: The Irish Times

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