Tuesday 24 April 2018

Kelly to announce funding for 1,000 new social homes

Environment Minister Alan Kelly. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Environment Minister Alan Kelly. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Kevin Doyle and Niall O'Connor

Local authorities are to be given funding for 1,000 new social housing units, it will be announced today.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly will release the 2015 social housing progress report, which shows 13,000 social housing units were allocated to people on the housing waiting list last year.

It will show that 400 additional staff, including planners, architects and quantity surveyors, have been hired by local authorities across the country in an effort to tackle the housing shortage.

Mr Kelly was also expected to bring details to Cabinet today of his latest plan to help alleviate the rising costs in the private rental market.

He is set to propose that the State will pay up to 30pc of the market rent for low-paid workers who do not qualify for the social housing list. These would include graduates and junior civil servants.

However, a busy Cabinet agenda means it will not be discussed until next week.

One item ministers will discuss is the two weeks' paid paternity leave for fathers promised in October's budget.

A memo on the issue will be brought by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, which will outline that fathers will be allowed to take the paternity leave within 26 weeks of a child's birth.

The clause, detailed in part 4 of heads of the bill going to Cabinet, will allow the father to spend time with the child immediately after the mother returns to work following her maternity leave.

However, Coalition sources emphasised that only the heads of the bill will be agreed today - meaning it will be the prerogative of the next Government to enact the legislation later on.

The new scheme will see fathers paid €230 per week, the equivalent of maternity benefit.

The two weeks' paternity leave is due to come into effect by the end of September, at a cost of €5m.

It is estimated a full year of the scheme will cost around €20m based on Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures.

The scheme brings Ireland in line with other European countries and was agreed following work carried out by an inter-departmental group, whose members included Children's Minister James Reilly and Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

A Government source last night said: "Additional resources will be provided to tackle the high cost of childcare if we keep the recovery going."

Irish Independent

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