Suspension of development levies set to be extended to boost housebuilding

Temporary waiver of contributions due to lapse this month

The Government is likely to extend the suspension of development levies this week in a move to increase housebuilding for the rest of the year.

The Cabinet committee on housing will meet on Monday to discuss the issue and several senior sources said they expect Ministers to approve the extension.

The temporary waiver of development contributions – levies charged by local authorities on new housing developments – was introduced last year but is due to lapse later this month.

The suspension of the levies was intended to stimulate the building of new housing developments, and the level of commencements has increased sharply in the last 12 months. Ministers and senior officials believe the measure is working, and want to extend it.


It is expected that it will be extended from April 24th, when it is due to lapse, until the end of the year.

Figures on housing commencements for the first two months of the year show an increase of more than 70 per cent compared with last year, the Department of Housing has said.

The total cost of extending the levy is calculated at €240 million.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Simon Harris is to meet the Road Safety Authority on Monday morning to discuss the recent spate of road deaths. It is expected that the significant backlog in driving tests across the country will also be on the agenda.

It follows a meeting on Friday with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and Justice Minister Helen McEntee where road safety was also discussed.

The number of road deaths so far this year is 25 per cent higher than at the same point in 2023.

Mr Harris is also due to announce an expansion of the hot school meals programme on Monday. The Taoiseach and Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys will announce the move at a primary school in Lucan, where they will say that an additional 900 primary schools have been approved to join the scheme, bringing to more than 2,000 the number of schools covered. The expansion will add 150,000 children to those covered by the scheme.

This is the largest single expansion since the scheme was started in 2019 as a pilot programme in 30 schools. Last year the Government said it would expand the scheme to cover all primary schools, and it is expected that any remaining schools will be eligible to join the scheme from next September.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil used its ardfheis weekend to make a series of pledges on tax reductions and welfare increases before budget day in October.

In a series of speeches, briefings and interviews over the weekend, the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and his Ministers made clear they expected further tax cuts in this year’s budget as well as specific welfare increases of €10 to child benefit, €12 to the old-age pension and potentially a further round of energy credits.

Mr Martin also used his ardfheis speech to promise to a “joint initiative” by the Department of Health and the Department of Education to ban the use of smartphones by children during school hours.

But sources in health and education said that the plans were at an early stage. It is expected that schools will be offered funding to supply pouches – already in use by some schools – in which pupils’ phones are stored for the day and can only be opened by the school management.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times