Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage budget package of €6.3bn announced

  • Investment combined with vacant property tax and measures to assist renters will strengthen progress being made under Housing for All
  • Significant funding for Local Authorities, Water and Heritage

Significant ongoing investment in Housing, Local Government and Heritage was announced as Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Planning, Peter Burke TD, and Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan unveiled a budget package for 2023 of €6.3bn.

Housing for All, the Government’s national strategy, will receive continued record investment in 2023 with more than €4bn in funding for housing. Minister O’Brien emphasised that the investment announced today for housing – coupled with the new vacant property tax and the measures to assist renters – will strengthen the progress being made under Housing for All.

Minister O’Brien said:

“My Department’s portfolio is varied and touches on the lives of everybody in this country. That is why we are working tirelessly to deliver for citizens in terms of housing supports, planning services, water investment, local government and Heritage. €6.3bn is a very significant level of funding and will be instrumental in the delivery of homes, supports, services, infrastructure and amenities for citizens across Ireland.

“For Housing, the Government is making Exchequer funding of €4bn available for the delivery of housing programmes. Of this, some €2.6bn is Capital and will be complemented by investment under the Housing Finance Agency and the Land Development Agency meaning that over €4bn will be available for social and affordable homes. This is what we committed to just over a year ago and maintaining this level of investment in housing is the cornerstone of Housing for All. Housing is a challenge in many countries but in Ireland, through this ongoing investment, we are providing certainty and confidence to citizens and the wider market.

“More than €1.3bn will be invested in affordability measures in 2023 including for the delivery of 5,550 affordable purchase and cost rental homes, the First Home Scheme, Local Authority Home Loan and Help-to-Buy. We’re making significant changes to our cost rental and affordable housing funding models meaning that local authorities and AHB’s can deliver homes at lower rents and significantly discounted prices. These are real supports for those people, both young and not so young, who want to own their own home.

“In 2023, 11,830 social homes will be delivered including 9,100 new build homes, building on our 2022 targets. 9,600 new households will have their needs met through the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and the Rent Assistance Scheme (RAS) – these represent direct supports for renting households.

“I know that we all share concerns at the ongoing challenge posed by homelessness. That is why funding of €215 million will be made available for the delivery of homeless services. This funding will ensure that local authorities can provide homeless preventions services, emergency accommodation and other services to households experiencing, or at risk of homelessness, and that households experiencing homelessness are supported to exit homelessness to tenancies as quickly as possible. The funding will also maintain a number of important measures introduced during Covid-19.

“I am also happy to add that funding is also available for a range of measures to tackle vacancy and the better utilisation of existing stock, and to support people in their existing homes through retrofitting, upgrading and maintenance programmes. Our new vacant property grant of up to €50,000 is proving very popular and Government are set to extend it further in the coming weeks. This will help to revitalise communities, towns and villages across the state – as will our further funding to support the regeneration and rejuvenation of our towns and cities under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF).

“Separately today, I brought a memo to Government on the recently published report of the Working Group to Examine Defects in Housing. I advised my Cabinet colleagues that my Department will now establish an inter-departmental and agency group to bring forward specific proposals to Government by the end of the year. I’ve always talked of this issue as a nettle to grasp and we are doing so. The group will also develop a timeframe for implementation of any agreed actions.

“Finally, I would like to point to our significant funding of €1.68 billion secured for the delivery of water services in 2023 – this is a significant increase of over €110m million -primarily composed of an additional €48 million capital investment by Irish Water critical to supporting the delivery of housing committed to in Housing for All. This continued investment in water generally, and in particular Irish Water as a national, publicly-owned standalone regulated utility, will ensure the continued operation, repair and upgrading of Ireland’s water and waste water infrastructure.”

Key highlights of today’s Budget announcement for the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage include:

• €1.3bn investment will support an overall package of measures to deliver more affordable housing including 5,550 households supported to buy or rent at an affordable price

• Continued delivery of Cost Rental Homes with 1,850 to be delivered next year via Cost Rental Equity Loan (CREL) facility and Affordable Housing Fund (AHF).

• €90 million under the AHF to also support the delivery of 1,200 affordable purchase homes.

• €50m for First Home Scheme delivering approx. 2,000 homes next year

• 11,830 new social homes to be delivered, including 9,100 new builds.

• 9,600 new households to be supported under HAP and RAS

• €215m, a 10% increase on 2022, to ensure local authorities and our NGO partners can provide homeless prevention services, emergency accommodation and other services and funding to help us achieve our target of creating 1,300 new Housing First tenancies.

• €136m to support the advancement of 132 Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) supported projects already approved and for the targeted expansion of the programme to accelerate new supply and tackle vacancy in towns as part of the Town Centres First approach.

• €219 million to fund programmes and supports for disabled people, older people and Travellers.

• €65 million is being provided to remediate homes affected by defects including Pyrite and Defective Concrete Blocks

• €87m to support alleviation of fuel poverty and ensure more energy efficient homes, through the upgrading of 2,400 local authority social homes to a Building Energy Rating of B2 or cost optimal equivalent, in line with Climate Action Plan.

• €1.6bn allocated to Water Services for 2023 – a significant increase of €110m to improve water quality and support Irish Water.

• €333m to support local authorities in their work – an increase of €108m on funding from the Local Government Fund in 2022.

• €147.5 million for the Heritage sector – an increase of 10.5 % – and a continued commitment to addressing heritage and biodiversity needs, including funding of €52.6m for the National Parks and Wildlife Service (a significant increase of 20%).

Regarding funding for Local Authorities, Minister of State Burke added:

“On the vital local government sector, we will be making a contribution of €333 million to support local authorities in their work in 2023. This represents an increase of €108 million on core funding from the Local Government Fund in 2022. Our Local Authorities carry out over one thousand services and are the closest arm of the State to the citizen, providing front line support every day.

“This additional funding will ensure that all local authorities, including those with weaker property tax bases, have a minimum level of funding available to them that is separate to programme funding. This significant increase year-on-year is due to the move to 100% retention of Local Property Tax within the local authority area. As a result, all equalisation funding is now met by the exchequer.

“The work of our Department is not just about funding programmes but improving the lives of our citizens. I want to particularly welcome the increase in funding for housing adaptation grants. With a capital provision of €67m next year, I would expect that this will allow some 12,300 grants to be made. This scheme is absolutely critical in ensuring that the physical accommodation needs of our older and disabled people are met. Furthermore, funding of €3 million will support a range of initiatives for disabled and older people. This includes a capital provision of €1.3 million which will deliver innovative pilot schemes to support older homeowners with their specific accommodation requirements and €25m is being provided for a dedicated funding stream for adaptation grants for local authority owned social homes.

“Housing for older people and people with a disability is funded from our mainstream capital programmes. These programmes include social housing in local authorities, as well as the Capital Assistance Scheme, which provides funding to Approved Housing Bodies for specialist housing. €97m will be provided for the Capital Assistance Scheme in 2023 and I expect many older people with a need to benefit from that.”

With regard to investment in Heritage, Minister of State Noonan pointed out:

“Today’s increased funding for Heritage represents our continued commitment to address significant historic underfunding of heritage and biodiversity and realises many of the commitments set out in the Programme for Government.

“In particular, I am pleased to announce a significant increase in funding that will allow work to continue on the timely and effective implementation of the Government’s Strategic Action Plan for the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The National Parks and Wildlife Service will receive €52.6m in programme funding, in addition to a significant increase in staffing resources. Combined with EU funding for LIFE Programmes and an expansion of the Local Authority Biodiversity Officers Programme through the Heritage Council, this gives us an effective total funding for nature and biodiversity of over €90m.

“This will enable the continued reform and renewal of the organisation, significant investment in nature conservation, in our habitats and species, and in our national parks and nature reserves. And, as importantly, in the rangers and conservation staff the drive the organisation forward. With increased visitor numbers to our beautiful National Parks and Reserves, this additional funding will continue to ensure visitors safety as well as supporting sustainable tourism. It also ensures the enhanced protection and preservation of the natural environments of all our National Parks and Nature Reserves.

“Expanding the programme of biodiversity investment and the restoration and conservation of protected habitats will also be enabled by today’s Budget. This includes raised bog compensation and financial incentives schemes, in line with national biodiversity and climate action objectives and Just Transition policy. The implementation of Heritage Ireland 2030, Ireland’s heritage plan published in February 2022, will also be supported and today’s funding will also ensure the protection and promotion of our much-loved monuments and historic buildings.”