On the 4th of October, Minister Darragh O'Brien provided an update on his Department's plans in Housing for All. In response to this, Francis delivered the below speech and touched on Budget '23 housing provisions, Green Party policies achieved in government thus far, and areas and policies that need improvement.
Budget 23 provided critically needed measures to cushion the economic blow of the increasing cost of living. There is no doubt that the short-term, targeted measures will provide relief for families. It is for that reason, I welcome the provisions in Budget 23 and would like to specifically welcome the tax credit for renters. This was a proposal I had raised internally within the Green Party as a key housing priority, and separately with the Taoiseach in QPL. However, I would hope that the tax credit will be expanded beyond 2023 and will continue for subsequent years.
Having said this, we know that subsidies and rent reliefs are not the solutions to the housing and rental crisis and we can’t lose sight of this. The increased supply of cost-rental, affordable, and social housing is what will help us emerge out of this crisis. I believe recent figures I have witnessed are pointing in the right direction with respect to the construction and completion of housing for our citizens.
Although we are the smallest of the three coalition parties, it’s important we don’t underestimate the impact the Green Party has had so far in the government's Housing policy: Green Party mandated policies are being delivered. 30,000 Cost-rental units through the LDA, legislation for 100% public housing on public land, the abolition of co-living and SHDs, provisions for community-led housing, tenures of indefinite duration, increased notice periods for tenancy termination, the expansion of Housing First, and a vacant property tax. Further to these I recently tabled a Private Members Bill on defective dwellings - which will provide homeowners with a legal redress process. Currently I am working to see embodied carbon measurement and targets established in the state to reduce co2 emissions in the built environment.
With respect to defective dwellings I have and continue to work with the stakeholders considering there are thousands of homeowners in this country who are living in defective properties. Defects which range from balcony faults, fire safety issues, to water ingress which has subsequently caused problems with insuring properties, reselling, as well as mortgages being withdrawn. While we continue to promote home ownership, we need to ensure that existing homes are safe to inhabit. I welcome the Minister’s actions of setting up a working group, its review has now gone to the next stage where the respective departments can expedite its findings into a clear redress programme. In the meantime, I believe it is now paramount to provide relief to these homeowners and ensure a tax rebate is offered, as I’ve previously called for.
As I noted already, we need to reduce embodied carbon.
Buildings are currently responsible for 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions; In Ireland 25% from operational emissions, and 14% from the embodied carbon of materials. We are lagging so far behind other EU countries by stalling the introduction of whole life-carbon measurement and targets. The Housing Committee is due to publish its recommendations and I hope the Minister will work to ensure they’re implemented through regulations akin to Part L of the building regulations. Part L primarily deals with operational emissions and we can be proud to know Ireland is a world leader in this area. It is a green party policy that has brought more people out of fuel poverty than any other. I hope the powers that be will make embodied carbon measurement and targets as successful as Part L.