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Housing Plan 'well on track' for late August but more work needs to be done on vacancy - O'Brien

Minister Darragh O’Brien had previously said he would launch the new plan in July but this was pushed back last week.
Jul 27th 2021, 7:35 PM 13,387 27

THE GOVERNMENT’S HOUSING For All plan is on track to be published by the end of August, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien has confirmed, despite its delay last week. 

Speaking to reporters today, O’Brien confirmed that “the vast bulk of it is agreed, and the finances are agreed, which is crucially important” but said more work needed to be done on measures to tackle vacancy within the plan. 

O’Brien had previously said he would launch the new plan in July but this was pushed back last week. 

The much talked about new housing plan will replace the government’s ‘Rebuilding Ireland’ scheme which former housing ministers Simon Coveney and Eoghan Murphy stood over.  

O’Brien confirmed today that 3,000 homes could become available under a plan to allow families keep rents where an elderly homeowner is in care under the Fair Deal scheme.

Vacant family-sized homes where the last remaining householder is in care could amount to 9,000 properties in total, he said, of which 3,000 could be released relatively quickly under Government plans. 

“From the research that we’ve done, and this also comes through on the returns for the Local Property Tax, where people seek exemptions for medical reasons and are no longer living in the home, it can be around 9,000 homes,” O’Brien told reporters today. 

“I think it’s significant. These homes tend to be clustered in particular areas where there are more mature communities. I’ve seen it in my own constituency as well. It is generally urban but not exclusively.”

O’Brien said the plan “will give options to families to rent out the home potentially or indeed to sell it at a rate that’s not punitive,” following a report from the Irish Independent. 

The Minister also responded to the continued delay to the housing plan: “I think what we want to do is have a plan that works.

“We’ve had plans published before where people will then obviously ask questions as to whether they did work. I’m conscious of having a plan that people understand, that it’s costed, and deliverable.

“It will be published in the coming weeks. We haven’t been saying it for months and months that it would be published, originally we said we were looking to have the plan published by the end of July.”

He said last week that 4% or 5% of the plan needs to be narrowed down further. “The vast bulk of it is agreed…and the finances are agreed, which is crucially important.”

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He added: “This a very significant piece of work. And for the sake of a few weeks, I’ve no bother rolling with the punches in that regard, because it’s important we get it right.”

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Cónal Thomas

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