Both sides of the housing divide voice disappointment on measures
HOUSING groups and the building sector have labelled the Budget a "failed opportunity" to bring in aggressive measures required to tackle the housing crisis.
Both sides cited its failure to deal effectively with the housing supply issue - the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) stating that Budget provision represented "a quarter" of Irish housing requirements.
For both, the Budget's omissions were most glaring including the absence of a hospitality sector style VAT reduction on housebuilding from 13.5pc to 9pc - which would have reduced costs to bring borderline viable schemes fully on stream.
Also absent was a measure to tackle boom era local authority building levies - cited as a prohibitive factor which prevents building and which raises few funds for local government. There was no movement on the Par V stipulation which taxes new home construction for social housing provision by 10pc of value - another addition to housing costs.
Pre-Budget there was talk about mortgage interest relief being brought on stream, but this was another no show. Builders will also be fuming that there were no measures to address the lack of available credit to fund development other than from more expensive private funds.
Environment Minister Alan Kelly unveiled plans for more than 500 homes to be built as part of a public private partnership (PPP). which will see six sites in Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow and Louth at a cost of €100m.
He also confirmed that the rental accommodation scheme will make €135m for 1,000 new RAS transfers while the housing assistance payment is being increased by €24.5m to €47.7m in 2016. Some €17m has been allocated for mortgage to rent while the pyrite remediation scheme will see €19m provided for work on effected homes.
However, questions are already arising over the numbers of genuinely "new" homes promised as opposed to homes which have been promised previously.
It has emerged that 2,000 of the 20,000 Nama homes stipulated are already part of a previous pledge by Nama to deliver 4,500 homes by the end of 2016. A spokesman for Nama would not be drawn on how many of the remaining 18,000 homes would have been built by Nama anyway and say only that it had not made any statements regarding its building plans after 2016. It pointedly indicated that 14,000 of the 20,000 homes promised are "commercially viable" propositions but another 6,000 of the 20,000 would require "additional steps" to make them viable.
Minister Howlin promised a €69m allocation for social housing which would "provide for 14,000 more households."
However, the Cluid housing agency claims €47.7m of this will be allocated to Housing Assistance Payment, a subsidy paid to private landlords and therefore not social housing.