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The Ulster Bank HQ in Dublin 2. Shutterstock/David Soanes.

A major business lobby group wants a €1 BILLION social housing spend

Businesses are increasingly viewing the homeless crisis in Ireland as an obstacle to economic growth.

EMPLOYERS GROUP IBEC has called on the Government to seek EU permission to spend €1 billion on social housing.

The recommendation was contained in the group’s proposals for how the government should react to Brexit in the October budget.

Multinationals are increasingly viewing the homelessness crisis in Ireland as an obstacle to economic growth. Intel and Apple recently called on the government to address the lack of housing for staff.

In May, a report from government body the Housing Agency revealed that there are around 230,000 vacant houses around the country, most of them in private ownership.

Charities that work with homeless people have called on the government to issue compulsory purchase orders for some of these properties, to house the country’s almost 6,000 homeless people.

John O'Connor CEO of Housing Agency John O'Connor, CEO of the Housing Agency

Moreover, there over 2,751 housing units in local authority ownership lying vacant, according to new statistics released under Freedom of Information legislation.

Action plan

Minister Simon Coveney is due to announce a housing action plan before the end of July, while Fianna Fáil have called for further local authority funding to refurbish units already owned by the state.

In a statement this morning, Ibec said that spiralling housing costs are placing too big a financial burden on working families.

The group added:

They are making Ireland a less attractive place to live and work and are adding to wage pressures.

“Ireland needs between 35,0000 to 40,000 new homes each year, of which around 11,250 should be within the four Dublin local authorities.

Last year, only 2,800 new units were built in Dublin.

Ibec have called on the government to seek a derogation from the European Commission rules, on social grounds, and spend €1 billion on social housing, outside of their current fiscal framework.

Fergal O'Brien Ibec's Fergal O'Brien

The business lobby group also called for greater investment in transport, education, housing and broadband infrastructure.

“We have the fastest growing population in Europe, but the third lowest level of investment in the EU,” the statement added.

They want the government to attract businesses and staff from the UK by raising by €1,000 a year the threshold at which staff here are taxed at the higher 40% rate.

They have also called for more tax breaks for entrepreneurs.

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Simon Coveney Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Simon Coveney

Ibec director of policy Fergal O’Brien said:

“We have an opportunity to re-position post-crisis post-Brexit Ireland as a nimble, dynamic, pro-business and pro-entrepreneurship economy.

If we get it right, we’ll reap the rewards in terms of new jobs, quality investment, better public services and improved living standards.

Read: ‘Unacceptable’ – Ireland’s 2,751 vacant social housing units

Read: There are 230,000 empty houses around the country

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