Wednesday 21 August 2019

Noonan wants €15k home grant for building in towns

Michael Noonan
Michael Noonan

Conor Kane

Families could be paid up to €15,000 to build houses within existing town boundaries under a plan floated by Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

Mr Noonan said the functions of towns and villages have changed quite a lot in the last 20 or 25 years, with retail becoming centralised.

"Whether it's on the verge of the town or the big town, it's become supermarket activity. A lot of small retail in the traditional villages has just closed down."

Mr Noonan spoke of the possibility of a grant of up to €15,000 to encourage couples to build new houses within existing town boundaries.

He admitted there'd been "minuscule" uptake of a tax break introduced just six months ago to encourage regeneration of city centres.

While tax incentives may "tip a decision" to set up a business in a town or village, or to live in a town or village, it won't make that decision, Mr Noonan said.

"I'd be inclined to think that the big shift would be if you could get people to live within the speed limits.

"It might be worth paying maybe a young couple a grant of €10,000 or €15,000 if they put the house inside the speed limits rather than on the country road."

Referring to the policy he introduced in May to give tax incentives to property-owners to encourage the regeneration of the historic centres of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Kilkenny and Galway, Mr Noonan said: "I brought in the Living Cities initiative and it looked great on paper; the uptake is minuscule … The uptake is tiny."

The minister was speaking in Kilkenny at the latest in a series of regional job forums.

He was responding to a question from Fine Gael councillor, and former by-election candidate, David Fitzgerald on the possibility of introducing tax incentives to encourage investment in rural towns and villages. He said there aren't "an awful lot of reasons" for going into post offices at the moment because of advances in technology such as mobile phones.

The same has happened to the licensed trade, he said, with towns that once had "a dozen pubs" now having "two or three viable" pubs.

"There's a general decline in public service infrastructure, which is probably to do with the fact that families are getting smaller and it's also to do with technological change, like there aren't an awful lot of reasons for going into a post office at present, especially if you have a mobile phone and a keyboard at home."

Irish Independent

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