Francis Noel Duffy speaking in the Dáil on some of the key Housing commitments secured in Budget 2022.
As we recover from one of the most challenging times in the history of this State, it was important that our Budget aimed to restore livelihoods, rebuild the sectors destroyed by the pandemic, and protect our most vulnerable as we mitigate the climate crisis - and I believe this budget has succeeded in doing so.
The solution to the rental crisis is state-led affordable accommodation, and that’s what cost-rental is - it provides state-led high quality affordable housing with secure, indefinite tenancies so no tenant is at risk of homelessness. I welcome the budget target of 2,000 cost-rental units per year, a 5 fold increase from last year's budget. But we already know the demand is extremely high and we need multiples of this number.
I have and will continue to advocate a figure of 10,000 cost-rental units per year for ten years - this will make up 20% of our rental market at rents 40-50% lower than market price. This is the state-intervention we need to stabilise our rental sector and to bring down the cost of rents
Critically we need to ensure a just transition towards a climate neutral economy by protecting our most vulnerable and creating sustainable green jobs and opportunities. I am glad to see a commitment of €300m for residential and community retrofit schemes, of which more than €109m for free upgrades for low-income homes, and €60m for the low-cost retrofit loan scheme
The purpose of the carbon tax is to deter people from using polluting CO2 emitting fuels. The tax is fully ring fenced to assist families in the transition to renewable energies with SEAI funding for solar panels, retrofitting, heat exchangers and geothermal utilities, but most importantly the tax as reported by the ESRI recently protects households most in need to the point where they are better off, to say different is disingenuous
As well as increasing our supply of new builds of social and affordable housing, we have thousands of vacant sites that are serviced and zoned for residential use but lying idle. I welcome the step to replace the Vacant Site Levy with the new Zoned Property Tax which finally closes the many loopholes that allowed sites to be exempt from the levy. This Tax will be more effective, increase the number of sites subject to tax, and ultimately, increase housing supply. I also support giving Local Authorities enough time to map the relevant sites before implementing the tax through the revenue commissioners. Ideally, I’d like to see the 3% figure increase to 7% quickly in order to realise these vacant sites.