Housing for All – a multi-annual, multi-billion euro plan for Ireland – one year on.
Since the middle of 2021 more than 54,000 new homes have either been built (24,916) or commenced (29,343) under the Housing for All programme, according to new figures from the Irish Government.
Last year, 9,183 social homes were provided, according to the figures.
The Government has budgeted €4bn for investment in housing in 2022, up 20% on 2021, with a further €4bn committed for 2023.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin, TD, has said that while the Government recognises that there are still significant challenges to be overcome, the Housing for All plan is delivering for the Irish people 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.
“A year ago, we produced an ambitious multi-annual, multi-billion plan that is now delivering.
“It’s 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 €4bn 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. Having a stable plan that can respond to these challenges is more important than ever and I look forward to working with colleagues across Government to produce an updated Action Plan in the autumn.”
Making home-buying affordable
Other measures delivered since Housing for All was launched include:
- 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 has been made available by Government 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 Conaithe Towns and Villages scheme 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. One of the five overarching objectives of the Action Plan for Apprenticeship 2021-2025 is ‘Apprenticeship for All’, ensuring that the profile of the apprenticeship population more closely reflects the profile of the general population. Female representation in craft apprenticeship has doubled in the last 2-3 years and participation in industry areas such as manufacturing and engineering is also increasing. Women also feature more strongly in the new apprenticeships, such as the hospitality, healthcare, property, sales, biopharma, and ICT sectors.
- A number of significant measures to accelerate research and innovation in the sector, including Enterprise Ireland’s new Built to Innovate Fund, a €5m investment for the establishment of a new Construction Technology Centre, and the turning the sod on a new Modern Methods of Construction Demonstration Park. A key action in Housing for All is the development of sustainable innovation in the residential construction sector. The creation of the Demonstration Park at Mount Lucas will illustrate Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) in response to this. This expansion and new National Demonstration Park for MMC 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.
- Enactment of the Regulation of Providers of Building Works Act to provide a statutory register for builders