Housing for All Q1 2024 Update

  • Cabinet approves extension of waiver for development levy & water connection charge rebate.
  • Record 12,000 homes started construction in Q1 2024.
  • Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant proving to be incredibly popular with 4,376 applications approved across the country.
  • Allocation of €100 million in additional funding following the National Development Plan (NDP) windfall review to deliver more than 1,000 student beds at UCD, DCU and Maynooth University.
  • First Home Scheme making affordable home ownership a reality for thousands of our citizens – additional €40m State Funding committed to Scheme.

The Cabinet has approved an extension for the waiving of local authority “section 48” development contributions to the end of this year and the refunding of Uisce Éireann water and waste water connection charges to the beginning of October.

The announcement came as Taoiseach Simon Harris, Minister Eamon Ryan and Minister Darragh O’Brien presented the latest quarterly update under Housing for All, with the Government leaders and the Minister emphasising that they remain steadfast in their commitment to growing the current positive momentum in the delivery of new homes.

Building started on almost 12,000 new homes in the first three months of this year. This is the highest Q1 figure since we began recording these numbers in 2014 and is up 63% on the same period last year. The decision to extend the waiver and rebate scheme will ensure we continue to boost the supply of new homes.

The Cabinet also reviewed the 2024 Progress Report under the Vacant Homes Action Plan, which provides updates on the range of measures underway to help those bringing vacant and derelict properties back into use as homes.

Highlights include:

  • Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant: 7,530 applications have been received and almost 60% of them (4,376) have been approved to date. 265 grants paid to applicants as refurbishment works are completed.
  • Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF): €150 million has been made available to local authorities under Call 3 of the URDF to tackle vacancy and dereliction by acquiring properties for reuse or sale across towns and cities. To date, over 900 properties have been approved funding under this Call and 11 new towns have now been added to the URDF programme and can avail of funding under Call 3.
  • A New CPO Activation Programme has been launched encouraging a proactive and systematic approach by local authorities to addressing vacancy and dereliction, including using their powers to compulsorily acquire properties where needed.
  • Under Town Centre First, Town Regeneration Officers are in place across 26 local authorities, with Town Plans developed. Addressing vacancy and dereliction is a key aspect of these Plans.

The Housing for All Q1 2024 progress report, published today reflects the significant progress since the beginning of the year, including:

  • 809 approvals and 262 homes purchased under the First Home Scheme in Q1 alone. Approvals are up 38% compared to Q1 2023. Given the success of the Scheme to date, we have committed an additional €40m to it, continuing the drive for affordable home ownership for our citizens.
  • Updated analysis on development finance, highlighting the importance of the State and the private sector working in partnership to deliver homes at the scale our country needs.
  • Progress on the new Planning and Development Bill which has now completed Committee Stage in the Oireachtas.
  • Focus on increasing adoption of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) – Two 3D volumetric pilots initiated in Wexford and Carlow and continued progress on an Accelerated Delivery Programme which will deliver 1,500 new social homes using MMC.
  • Promotional campaigns, including the Building Heroes initiative launched last week, to encourage careers in construction.

It has also been agreed to allocate €100 million in additional funding to the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science to deliver more than 1,000 purpose-built student accommodation beds at UCD (493), DCU (495) and Maynooth University (116).

State funding will be provided in return for 30 per cent of the newly built beds being made available to students in National Access Plan priority groupings or categories of students eligible for support via SUSI at a discounted rate of rent for 30 years.

Commenting on the announcement, the Taoiseach, Simon Harris said:

“Housing for All has delivered well beyond its targets since its launch in 2021. The decision to extend the development levy waiver and Uisce Éireann rebate helps us to build on record levels of commencements seen in Q1 to ensure we continue to provide more and more homes across the country to meet the needs of our citizens.

“Throughout 2024 we will build up capacity and innovation in the construction sector as we get ready for even stronger delivery for next year and beyond. We will also attract and welcome private investment to our housing market as we have always done, to ensure that the State and the private sector can continue to work in partnership to deliver at the substantial scale we need across the country.”

The Tánaiste, Micheál Martin said:

“I’ve always said supply is key to making progress in housing, and there is real momentum under Housing for All, with record levels of new homes being built, a strong pipeline, and more first-time buyers getting they keys to their own home.

“The affordable purchase supports are making a real difference to peoples’ lives. Since its launch in July 2022, over 4,000 individuals and couples have availed of the First Home Scheme. There were over 800 approvals in quarter one, up almost 40% compared to the same three months last year.

“In addition, the Help to Buy Scheme supported almost 2,000 to buy their first home in the first three months of this year.”

The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications and Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan said:

“There is real progress now being made right across the country in tackling vacancy and dereliction. Applications for the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant have been received in every local authority, with over 4,300 approved to date.

“Breathing life back into old buildings doesn’t just bring new life to our cities, towns, villages and rural areas. It is sustainable development which will help us towards our climate objectives.

“The updated Bringing Back Homes Manual, published today, is an excellent resource for those interested in restoring and renovating vacant and derelict buildings. Government will remain focused on making further progress in this area as we continue to implement our Housing for All Plan.”

The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD added:

“Without question, the Development contribution waiver and Uisce Éireann connection rebate scheme has led to a surge in new home starts and provided a much needed jolt to our supply pipeline, with building starting on 11,956 new homes in the first three months of the year alone – a 63% increase compared to the same period in 2023 and a record first quarter.

“The temporary time-limited nature of the waiver and refund schemes has undoubtedly been a principal factor in influencing the speedier activation of planning permissions by developers since they were introduced last year, including planning permissions that have been granted for a number of years and were not activated.

“To ensure we get the most out of this measure, and that we provide more homes as quickly as possible, I sought Cabinet approval to extend the Uisce Éireann rebate to the beginning of October and the development contribution waiver to the end of this year – and received that approval. This will ensure that many more homes will come into the mix this year and quicker than otherwise may have happened. That is good news for all those who are seeking a place of their own.”

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Skills, Patrick O’Donovan said:

“This is a significant announcement by Government and confirmation that its agreed policy response on addressing challenges around student accommodation is bearing fruit.

“In my new role, I am even more conscious that the cost of accommodation can be a challenge for many students and would make the reality of higher education beyond the reach of many.

“This investment, however, will help increase the supply of student housing in some of our biggest campuses and, with much of it targeted at those who need it most, we are continuing our policy of making sure education is accessible to everyone.”