No supplementary budget for spending on mica needed in 2022

Provisions made for redress scheme, Darragh O’Brien tells Housing Committee

The Government agreed to increase funding for homeowners whose homes have been crumbling due to the presence of the mineral mica in concrete blocks. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

The Government agreed to increase funding for homeowners whose homes have been crumbling due to the presence of the mineral mica in concrete blocks. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

 

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has said he will not need to seek extra money next year for the defective block redress scheme, announced by Government this week.

On Tuesday, the Government announced it had agreed to increase funding for homeowners located mainly on the western seaboard, whose homes have been crumbling, due to the presence of the mineral mica in concrete blocks.

Mr O’Brien announced the funding would rise from €1.4 billion to €2.2 billion, an increase of €800 million, in the years ahead.

On Thursday he told the Oireachtas Committee on Housing that a proposed levy on the construction industry, to be introduced in the next budget and come into effect in 2023, would also fund the scheme.

He said he wanted the scheme to additionally cover fire-safety defects which had also emerged as an issue in many homes built over the last 15 years.

But Mr O’Brien said he would “not be coming back” to the Oireachtas looking for a supplementary budget to cover costs as the scheme remaps up in 2022.

“I don’t expect to be coming back to you and I won’t be coming back to you for any supplementary estimate in that regard,” he said.

“We have made provision in 2022, provision is also made in the National Development Plan.”

He said: “There will be additional funds required as the scheme ratchets up and we need legislation in this regard and obviously I’ll be seeking the co-operation of the committee.” He said he hoped to publish the legislation in February as the new redress scheme which was “unprecedented” could not continue under existing regulations .

‘More than enough’

In relation to his Department’s capital spend of €3.7 billion on housing for 2022, Mr O’Brien said his department had “more than enough” for the coming year and joked that he “should not say more than enough” in case Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath was listening.

Turning to support for housing efforts on the part of local authorities, he said he would be making a very significant announcement in the coming days in relation to further additional resources under Housing for All, for all local authorities.

He said arrangements were being finalised but “we will be sharing that with the committee”.

Mr O’Bien told Cian O’Callaghan TD he would accelerate arrangements including the Housing First scheme for housing for homeless people. He said further announcements would be made this month outlining details of more than 1, 200 new tenancies, “more than we initially said”.