Government launches Housing for All – a New Housing Plan for Ireland

The Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, the Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, Minister for the Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport, Eamon Ryan, and the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, have launched Housing for All – a New Housing Plan for Ireland.

Housing for All is the government’s plan to increase the supply of housing to an average of 33,000 per year over the next decade. The plan provides for an optimal mix of social, affordable and private housing for sale and rent. These measures are supported by over €4 billion in guaranteed State funding every year, the highest ever level of government investment in building social and affordable housing. The plan also includes measures to support availability of the land, workforce, funding and capacity to enable both the public and private sectors to meet the targets.

The plan is based on four pathways, leading to a more sustainable housing system:

  • support home ownership and increase affordability
  • eradicate homelessness, increase social housing delivery and support social inclusion
  • increase new housing supply
  • address vacancy and make efficient use of existing stock

Among the plan’s main initiatives are:

  • the largest ever social housing build programme – over 90,000 social homes by the end of 2030, including an average new-build component of over 9,500 social homes by the end of 2030
  • 300,000 homes built over the next decade across the four categories of social, affordable and cost rental, private rental and private ownership. On average, over 33,000 homes will be built per annum, rising to 40,000 by 2030
  • 54,000 affordable homes between now and 2030 with yearly targets for the provision of affordable Housing for the first time ever – 2,000 ‘Cost Rental’ homes and 4,000 local authority Affordable Purchase Homes will be provided, on average, each year
  • measures to stimulate supply and address acute viability challenges in urban areas, including the provision of up to 5,000 Cost Rental and affordable units through Project Tosaigh, The new Croí Conaithe (Cities) Fund aims to ensure new apartments will be developed for sale to individual households at a lower cost
  • focus on new builds to provide social homes, with the ending of long-term social housing leasing arrangements through the phasing out of new entrants
  • focus on those with a history of rough sleeping or long-term use of emergency accommodation and with complex needs through 1,200 new Housing First tenancies over the next five years
  • delivery of up to 15,000 residential units, which will help to revitalise urban centres, through the provision of State land to the Land Development Agency
  • an expansion in access to affordable homes to buy, through an enhanced Local Authority Home Loan Scheme, which will have an increased income ceiling for single people of €65,000 and lower loan interest rates
  • ‘Land Value Sharing’ measures will be introduced to ensure that an appropriate level of the increase in the value of development land, which results from zoning for residential development, is shared by the State. This value will be used to provide necessary local infrastructure and social and affordable housing, to support residential development and for the benefit of the community
  • measures to use vacant lands for residential housing will be introduced, such as a new tax to replace the existing Vacant Site Levy
  • measures to reduce construction costs and support innovation in residential construction will be introduced
  • local authorities to purchase and resell up to 2,500 vacant properties in their areas
  • further reforms to improve protections for people renting
  • new planning arrangements for Large-Scale Residential Developments as well as broader reforms to the planning process to ensure certainty and stability and reduce delays

Speaking at the launch this afternoon, the Taoiseach said:

“Many people are struggling to access housing, whether they are trying to buy or rent. Few things are more fundamental to us than having somewhere to live. Through this policy the government is demonstrating its commitment to build the required amount of housing, of different tenures, to a high standard, and in the right location, for people of all circumstances. Today we are announcing the most ambitious programme of social and affordable housing delivery in the history of the State, with 90,000 social homes and 54,000 affordable homes to be provided by the end of 2030. We will also continue to support our most vulnerable by significantly increasing the number of tenancies for those experiencing homelessness and who have more complex needs. Housing for All will provide the basis for a long-term sustainable housing system for this and future generations.”

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar said:

“Before the pandemic, we were building 20,000 new homes per year and were expecting that to rise to 25,000 in 2020 and 30,000 this year. Housing for All will bring us to at least 33,000.

“We all know construction costs are too high in Ireland and that this ultimately affects the price of homes. High costs also damage our economic competitiveness. We need to strengthen the residential construction supply chain and modernise construction methods. Housing for All will enhance productivity and innovation in construction to overcome the challenges that exist.”

The Minister for the Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport, Eamon Ryan, emphasised the importance of environmental sustainability in our planning and housing decisions:

“Sustainability will be at the heart of future development, including housing. That’s why this policy emphasises compact growth, with future housing to be primarily based in settlements. Higher population densities will have upshots such as minimal transport demand and shorter travel distances. Initiatives such as Urban Development Zones will result in plan-led delivery of residential and urban development. These will also support compact growth. The retrofitting of 36,500 local authority-owned properties and the introduction of minimum BERs for rental properties will help move our existing housing stock to a low-carbon future. This will assist with delivering on our national retrofit targets. Moreover, the focus on the circular economy, waste reduction and keeping materials in use throughout the construction process will reduce resource consumption, while also delivering cost reductions.”

Commenting on the plan, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien said:

“Today we are launching a plan that will see a radical shift towards more affordable homeownership and secure renting. Our measures for affordable purchase, which include significant State investment, will provide opportunities for those who are losing all hope of ever owning their own home. Our changes to the rental sector, including the supply of 2,000 ‘Cost Rental’ homes, on average, every year, and new protections will make renting more affordable and secure for many.

“The planning changes we are announcing today, including the concept of the State sharing in the increase in value of land zoned for housing, mark a radical departure in how land earmarked for housing is managed, in line with the aspirations of the Kenny Report of several decades ago.”

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath, also welcomed today’s publication:

“Today the government has shown its financial commitment to the delivery of social and affordable housing. Social housing is a critical element of Ireland’s housing mix, providing housing security for those who need it most. Through the National Development Plan the government is committed to investing €12 billion in social and affordable housing measures between 2021 and 2025, making homes more affordable for rent or purchase.”

The Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, highlighted the role of taxation in ‘Housing for All’:

“Tax reforms will play an important role in increasing housing supply at a time when many sites could deliver much needed residential developments. The new tax to activate vacant land should incentivise greater development. Data on vacancy levels will inform our work on introducing a new Vacant Property Tax so that empty properties are brought back into productive use.”

The Minister for Justice, Social Protection, Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, emphasised the potential for rural Ireland in ‘Housing for All’:

“Ireland’s housing challenges relate to rural Ireland as well as urban Ireland. As we emerge from the pandemic we have the chance to re-energise our rural towns and villages through opportunities like remote working. Rural towns and villages will need adequate, high-quality housing if more people are to live and work in them.

“The forthcoming Town Centres First policy will give a new focus to regenerating town centres and promote residential occupancy in our rural towns and villages. The new Croí Conaithe (Towns) Fund initiative of providing serviced sites for housing in small towns and villages will also help revitalise rural Ireland.”