Budget 2017: Housing agencies respond to measures

Groups welcome €1.2bn funding but divided over effectiveness of help-to-buy scheme

The Construction Industry Federation described measures introduced in the budget as a “significant step towards solving the housing crisis”. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

The Construction Industry Federation described measures introduced in the budget as a “significant step towards solving the housing crisis”. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

 

Construction Industry Federation: The federation (CIF) has described measures introduced in the budget as a “significant step towards solving the housing crisis”.

CIF director general Tom Parlon said the critical problem has been the lack of supply in new builds. He welcomed the introduction of a tax rebate scheme aimed at helping first-time buyers to save deposits for starter homes.

The CIF also welcomes the extension of the Home Renovation Incentive scheme which it described as a “highly successful scheme for those seeking to increase their house size and to upgrade their homes”.

The Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland (SCSI): The society said the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme announced in Budget 2017 will have very little impact on the housing crisis because supply is the problem, not demand.

SCSI president Claire Solon said the Government should have focused on supply measures as they would have a greater impact on the crisis, help stabilise house prices and offer a better return to the taxpayer.

She added: “In our view, the Government should have been focusing on initiatives to make development viable, like reducing VAT on affordable housing, making public land available for affordable housing schemes and providing finance to help kick-start building on sites around the country, with all the employment and tax benefits that this would bring.”

Property Industry Ireland: The Ibec group for businesses working in the property sector, welcomed the housing measures.

PII chairman Tom Phillips said the “Help-to-Buy” scheme for first-time buyers should encourage the building of new homes.

PII director Dr David Duffy welcomed the attractiveness for landlords of the private-rented sector.

He added: “The continued commitment to the delivery of social housing is welcome. PII looks forward to engaging with Government on implementing the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan.”

The Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers: The institute said the help-to-buy measures in the budget should stimulate supply boosting confidence among builders and developers.

Chief executive Pat Davitt said: “The lack of supply of suitable properties is the single biggest issue impacting all elements of housing, from the growing homelessness figures to first-time-buyers to those who wish to move. Anything that helps supply is welcome.”

However, he expressed disappointment that the measure would not apply to second-hand homes. “In that regard we can predict that the price of second-hand homes will continue to increase until they meet the price at which new homes are selling.”

Peter McVerry Trust: The trust has welcomed the additional €28 million allocated by the Government to provide additional emergency homeless accommodation.

Chief executive Pat Doyle said: “The new funding is recognition by Government that we need to increase the availability of suitable emergency beds for those in need and to ensure that we respond to the rising numbers in homelessness.”

The trust also welcomed an additional €105 million towards the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme and the 15,000 tenancies it aims to deliver.

Focus Ireland: Focus Ireland said the budget had some “very positive measures” that would help deliver the Government’s housing and homelessness plan.

The charity said that the commitment of €1.2 billion to allow for the implementation of the housing action plan is positive and “will help to put some flesh on the bones” of the Rebuilding Ireland plan and enable the delivery of housing in the coming years.

Threshold: The national housing charity said the budget failed to introduce rent-certainty measures to help tenants and first-time buyers.

It believes the best way to help first-time buyers is to cap exorbitant rents.

Threshold chairwoman Aideen Hayden said: “Today’s budget recognised the need to assist first-time buyers, many of whom are trapped renting privately while for many more, owning their home is only a dream.

“While we acknowledge this support, Threshold believes that the best way to help first-time buyers is to cap the exorbitant rents they are facing month after month.”

Depaul Ireland: Depaul, a charity supporting people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, welcomed measures to address the housing shortage.

Depaul chief executive Kerry Anthony said that by focusing on public expenditure, the Government has shown an awareness of the need for improving social services to improve the lives of the most vulnerable.

Depaul welcomed the announcement of €1.2 billion in funding for housing programmes to achieve the goals laid out in Rebuilding Ireland which it believes will help towards the delivery of 47,000 social homes by 2021.

The Housing Agency: The agency set up by the State to aid local and national State bodies in their housing plans, welcomed the €1.2 billion.

The Housing Agency said the Rebuilding Ireland plan included initiatives that would help to accelerate the supply of new homes.

It also welcomed changes to the Rent-a-Room scheme which it is hoped will encourage more efficient use of the housing stock.

Chief executive John O’Connor said: “Rebuilding Ireland sets out a clear path to a functioning housing sector and our priority now is to push on with this programme as quickly as possible with the measures announced today.”