– Housing Funding up by 40% to €800m – 7,500 new homes in 2015
– Local Authority Construction & Acquisition of Housing Units to more than quadruple in 2015
– Homelessness service spend to increase by over 20% to €55 million
The Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr. Alan Kelly T.D., & Minister of State Mr Paudie Coffey T.D. today (14 October 2014) said 2015 will see Government aggressively tackling the housing crisis with a major investment of €800 million for a range of housing initiatives coupled with long-term committed funding of €2.2billion.
Speaking in the immediate aftermath of Budget 2015, Minister Kelly said:
“The issue of social housing is an absolute priority for this Government and myself and Minister Paudie Coffey are pleased to welcome the fact that investment in new housing infrastructure has been given priority in this Budget and that over 7,500 new homes will be provided under a range of housing initiatives in 2015.
Just under €800m will be spent on housing – an increase of over €230m on last year which will bring about an increase of 40% on the 2014 housing budget. We will see a major acceleration of local authority direct construction and acquisition which will more than quadruple the amount of social housing units delivered through this mechanism – rising from 200 in 2014 to 946 in 2015.
I believe it was a mistake in the past that local authorities effectively got out of direct house building and we need to return to that model in order to address the rising housing need. This is just year one, shortly I intend to announce a plan to deliver up to 30,000 social houses in the coming years.
Almost 70% of our Department’s 2015 budget will go directly to support a range of housing programmes. An expanded housing construction and acquisition programme will meet the twin objectives of tackling rising housing need and supporting jobs in the construction sector.”
This Government has today demonstrated our long term commitment to increase social housing stock and this evidenced by the commitment to spend €2.2billion over the next 3 years.”
The Department’s Vote for 2015 is some €1.157 billion – €578m Capital and €579m Current. This compares to a total of €817m in 2014 – an increase of €340m or nearly 42%. Over €230m of the increase will go to Housing programmes.
Welcoming the increase in Departmental Funding Minister Coffey said:
“Social Housing provision is one the key targets of the Construction 2020 Strategy and I am pleased that this challenge is being tackled by Government in a serious way. The provision of good, sustainable housing is something that myself and Minister Kelly are committed to and the significant increase in funding will greatly assist in delivering housing where it is most needed.
“The delivery of the Construction 2020 strategy is key to addressing the housing need, in particular in the Dublin Region. The measures contained will support the recovery of the construction sector to sustainable levels and ensure that housing demand is met; without returning to the boom and bust economic model of the past.
The housing capital spend will come to €453m in 2015, up from €273 million this year; €180m extra capital spending. This will see the acceleration of local authority direct build and acquisition of properties. The number of housing units delivered through this mechanism will more than quadruple going from 200 to 946 units. The number of units direct units delivered through voluntary housing bodies and co-operatives will rise from 275 to 440.The additional capital programme will also allow for 1,000 extra vacant housing units to be brought back into use.
Current spending on housing will grow by €52m to €345m which will be used to finance increased local authority housing services, including through the Rental Accommodation Scheme and the new Housing Assistance Payment.
In total, 7,536 additional housing units will be delivered from a range of measures which, combined with a target of 8,000 for transfers from Rent Supplement to the Housing Assistance Payment, will deliver a total of 15,925 housing units in 2015.
In 2015, 400 new housing units will be provided for people with specific needs and up to 150 new homes in the community will be provided for people with disabilities leaving institutional care. Some 7,600 housing adaptation grants will assist older people and people with disabilities to continue living in their own homes.
“I am conscious of the need for immediate action to address the scourge of homelessness; I am allocating a further €10.5 million for this purpose to bring the total to €55.5 million in 2015. The availability and supply of secure, affordable and adequate housing is essential in ensuring sustainable tenancies and ending long-term homelessness.” Minister Kelly added.
The Ministers stated that they will shortly be publishing a new Social Housing Strategy which will further expand Social Housing provision. The Strategy will harness new funding streams to underpin additional investment in housing.
Significant resources are also being made available through the Department’s Vote to support the development of strong and vibrant local communities; environmental protection; and local government services.
Some €133m will be invested in Community programmes in 2015, including €46m for the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) and €45 million for LEADER.
Funding will continue to be made available to support a range of initiatives in the community and voluntary sector, including support to strengthen and foster volunteerism and philanthropy as well as funding for seniors alert, which supports the provision of monitored alarms to enable older persons, of limited means, to continue to live securely in their homes with confidence. Overall, community and voluntary supports will be up by €1.5 million to €12.3 million.
Minister Kelly said that, in allocating resources, he was particularly conscious of the need to support funding levels for the Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP) and its successor, SICAP.
Some 10,000 people who are distanced from the labour market will receive direct one-to-one labour market training and supports through the LCDP which will draw to a close in Q1 2015. Its successor, SICAP, which will take account of the new aligned local authority/local development structures will support a further 30,000 people in 2015.
“ As the economy emerges from recession, SICAP is well placed to create opportunities and provide supports to ease the transition into meaningful employment for the harder to reach in the most disadvantaged areas in society. €46 million will be invested in 2015 to increase access to formal and informal educational activities and resources, and to increase people’s work readiness and employment prospects.” Minister Kelly said.
The LEADER elements of the Rural Development Programme, which will receive €45m funding in 2015, assist projects that improve quality of life and promote growth and diversification of the rural economy.
“LEADER is addressing many of the challenges facing rural communities, including through increasing economic activity and generating employment. It is a key multi-annual programme which will continue to be supported in 2015 as the present programme draws to a close and is replaced by a new LEADER programme. “, the Minister said.
An additional €10m is being made available to recoup investment made by local authorities following damage caused by severe storms earlier this year. €71m will be paid to the Local Government Fund in respect of Irish Water subvention. Other areas of Department spend in 2015 include Water Services (€28m); the North/South Peace Programme (€10m); Landfill Remediation (€8.5m); and Fire Services capital investment (€8m).