Budget 2017: Social housing funding up 50% to €1.2bn

Rebuilding Ireland: fund to allow 21,000 households live in social and private rented housing

One of the biggest increases in the housing budget is an additional €105 million for the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) used to accommodate social housing tenants in private rented accommodation.

One of the biggest increases in the housing budget is an additional €105 million for the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) used to accommodate social housing tenants in private rented accommodation.

 

The social housing budget has been increased by 50 per cent to €1.2 billion for next year to fund measures announced last July by Minister for Housing Simon Coveney as part of the €5.35 billion Rebuilding Ireland housing action plan.

The fund is intended to allow 21,000 households to be accommodated next year in social and private rented housing.

One of the biggest increases in the housing budget is an additional €105 million for the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) used to accommodate social housing tenants in private rented accommodation. It represents an increase of 220 per cent on 2016.

Mr Coveney said the budget measures were a “breakdown” of what was in Rebuilding Ireland, but there were additional measures such as an increase in funding for homeless services by €28 million to €98 million in 2017, in an effort to take 3,000 people out of emergency accommodation next year, and €9 million for Traveller accommodation, an increase of 64 per cent on 2016.

Housing charities gave a cautious welcome to the measures, with concerns raised over the capacity and willingness of the private rented sector to take on more social tenants.

“The previously announced additional €105 million for HAP is very welcome,” said Niamh Randall, Simon Communities spokeswoman.

Private rental supply

However, she said, “this is dependent on private rental supply, which is at the lowest level ever. According to Daft.ie there were only 3,600 homes available to rent on the 1st of August of this year.”

There was an “urgent need “ to address rent certainty for tenants, but this had not been included in the budget, she said.

The Peter McVerry Trust said it hoped the 15,000 tenancies targeted by the additional HAP funding would be delivered.

“However, the impact of this funding and the HAP scheme in general is being eroded because of unrestricted increases in the cost of renting and the lack of security of tenure for tenants.”

Mr Coveney said the measures announced for private housing, such as the help-to buy scheme and the tax relief for landlords to encourage them to stay in the sector, would free up more rental accommodation for those reliant on social welfare.