To ask the Minister for Finance the estimated first and full year cost of expanding the living city initiative criteria to all areas.
The Special Regeneration Areas for the Living City Initiative were designated following consultation with the relevant city councils and an independent review by a third party advisor.
Specific qualifying criteria were set down that were required to be taken into account by the city councils when putting forward the proposed Special Regeneration Areas for each city. In particular, it was stated that the Special Regeneration Areas should be inner city areas which are largely comprised of dwellings built before 1915, where there is above average unemployment and which demonstrate clear evidence of neglect, dereliction and under-use. It was also specified that areas which are generally regarded as affluent, have high occupancy rates and which do not require regeneration should not be included.
Officials in my Department reviewed the Living City Initiative in 2016 in consultation with the relevant councils and the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. On foot of that review, a number of changes to the scheme were announced in Budget 2017 in order to make the Initiative more attractive and effective.
The principal change extended the residential element of the scheme to landlords, who are now able to claim the relief by way of accelerated capital allowances for the conversion and refurbishment of property, which was built prior to 1915, where such property is to be used for residential purposes.
In addition, the requirement for a pre-1915 building to have been originally constructed for use as a dwelling in order to qualify for the residential element of the Initiative was removed. The floor area restriction for owner-occupiers has also been removed. Furthermore, the minimum amount of capital expenditure required for eligibility for relief, under all elements of the scheme, was also amended and must now only exceed €5,000.
The possibility of extending the Special Regeneration Areas was considered, but it was decided that such a change would dilute the Initiative's potential impact on the originally targeted areas.
Revenue have informed me that in order to cost the Deputy's proposal, they would require information on the number of eligible properties in areas outside of the current Special Regeneration Areas. This information is not available from tax returns or other sources, and as such, Revenue are not able to provide this estimation.
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