We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.
Housing Crisis

Taoiseach to meet experts in housing in the coming weeks as Govt attempt to kick-start acceleration plan

So are we heading Housing for All 2.0?

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR is due to hold a round of meetings and consultations with experts in housing over the coming weeks. 

Varadkar already met with Peter McVerry and Focus Ireland founder Sister Stan this week to discuss the escalating homeless and housing crisis, with McVerry telling RTÉ Radio One that the Taoiseach was very much in “listening mode”.

In his Dáil speech after being elected Taoiseach on Saturday, Varadkar said the government needed to do whatever it takes it solve the housing crisis and reverse the trend of rising homelessness and falling homeownership.  

“We must apply the same spirit of determination, action and immediacy that we saw during the pandemic to this – the greatest challenge of today. We will leave no stone unturned. No option taken off the table without due consideration,” he said. 

Varadkar said the Housing for All is a comprehensive plan and that Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien was working hard to drive it forward, but he also said bottlenecks needed to be cleared and thousands of unactivated planning permissions had to be turned into new homes.

Previously, Varadkar told this website that a fresh look might have to be taken at the government’s housing policy, calling the housing crisis a “breach of the social contract”. 

Housing for All 2.0?

So are we headed for a revised, revamped Housing for All document? 

The Taoiseach will be holding a number of meetings in the coming weeks in order to hear solutions that people working on the frontline of the crisis believe are needed.

The key internal aim for this government is the accelerated delivery of new homes and supports to help first-time buyers, it is understood. 

However, there is a growing concern within government over rising rents and the lack of availability of rental properties. 

While individual renters will get up to €500 as a tax credit next year thanks to measures introduced in the Budget, as with other tax credits it will be set against other liabilities and credits, so a person may not necessarily get €500 in their pocket. 

It will apply for 2022, and can be claimed again from early 2023. It will run up to 2025.

Married couples and civil partners will be able to claim together for double that amount.

Micheál Martin had already indicated that the €500 credit was only the starting point, with the tax credit set to rise.

Budget too far away

While most taxation changes, such as any increase in the credit, have to wait until Budget Day each year, there is a belief in government that October 2023 is too far away and just like the Covid emergency, decisive action is needed sooner rather than later. 

It is understood the Taoiseach will be working closely with the housing minister as well as Finance Minister Michael McGrath and Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe in the coming weeks. 

Government sources have said there is a need to settle on and agree any actions before looking at timelines, and any decisions on accelerated delivery and modifications to housing policy will have to be negotiated and agreed.

The housing minister recently told this website that the tax treatment of small landlords will have to be revisited and will be discussed further by government.

So does the O’Brien see a Housing for All 2.0 in the works in the new year? The Journal recently asked O’Brien what he made of Varadkar’s mention of housing in his Dáil speech on Saturday.

“I know Leo a long time, like we got elected together, way back in Fingal County Council in 2004 and I have a lot of regard for him. We get on very well,” he said, stating both men represent constituencies facing similar housing issues. 

“I talk to him on a regular basis… we will be throwing everything at it [the housing crisis],” he added. 

The Housing for All plan gives a “real basis to move forward”, said the minister adding that government will be reviewing the policies on a regular basis.

“Because the environment changes… we have to be agile and adaptable. And I think that is what Leo was referring to,” said O’Brien, adding:

The Housing for All plan is a living document, it will always be added to.

The government will exceed its targets, according to the housing minister, stating that currently it stands at 24,600 new homes, but come the end of the year it will be close to 28,000. 

“It is enough? No, we need to do more. So I think to be fair, what Leo was referring to is accelerating it as best we can and we intend to do that,” said O’Brien. 

First Home Scheme changes

Increasing the property price caps for the shared equity scheme will also be significant next year, said the minister. 

The Journal reported this week that the maximum price caps under the government’s First Home Scheme are due to increase in many counties on 1 January. 

While opposition have criticised the scheme, saying it will push up house prices, the minister claimed there is no evidence of that. 

“Lots of opposition to people said it would be a second mortgage and it’s not. It’s equity. And it’s actually a great thing as it’s working. We have about 2,400 customers registered already, about 750 approvals already. So real individuals, real couples who are now able to buy their homes by using First Home to bridge the gap between the finance they have and what they need.

“It’s recommended that every new house valued at €325,000 or less will be eligible for the scheme irrespective of its location. That’s a big change,” said O’Brien. 

Defending the change, he said the price ceiling change was approved by the First Home board based on an independent assessment.

“I actually think it’ll make a real difference for a lot of people… it’s a game changer for a lot of people, particularly for singles out there, ” he said. 

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel