The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, has informed Government of an increase of €5,000 to all social housing income eligibility thresholds. The increase will take effect from 1 January 2023.
This significant change is being taken pending the development and roll-out of a revised income eligibility model (and income thresholds) in 2023. The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage is currently working on this revised model.
Commenting on the increase, Minister O’Brien said:
“These increases will ensure that social housing support is available to vulnerable households. It will help protect those most at risk from the recent increase in the cost of living.
“These changes, the first in over a decade, build on the increases introduced in September, and builds on the recommendations of the review into social housing income eligibility limits. My department and I are now working hard to produce a new income eligibility model, which will be completed in 2023.”
In line with The Housing Agency’s recent review of social housing income eligibility limits, commissioned by Minister O’Brien, the Minister recently increased the thresholds for five local authorities (Carlow, Clare, Laois, Westmeath, Galway County). These five counties will also benefit from the latest increase.
The social housing income eligibility review fulfilled a commitment in Housing for All, the government’s housing plan. The plan contains a range of actions and measures to ensure over 300,000 new social, affordable, cost rental and private homes are built by 2030, backed by over €4 billion in annual guaranteed State investment to the end of 2026. To the end of September 2022, over 55,000 homes were either completed (27,773) or commenced (27,417). The plan’s overall target for housing supply in 2022 is 24,600.
NotesAn estimated 16,000 additional households will be eligibile for social housing supports as a result of the change.
Social housing income eligibility thresholds are the net income thresholds below which a person is entitled to social housing supports (i.e. social housing or the Housing Assistance Payment).
In line the social housing income eligibility review completed by The Housing Agency in Quarter 4 2022, Minister O’Brien increased the thresholds for five local authorities (Carlow, Clare, Laois, Westmeath, Galway County) in September 2022. The baseline income threshold for these areas increased from €25,000 to €30,000 on 1 October 2022.
In addition, from 1 January 2023, an increase of €5,000 will apply to all social housing income eligibility thresholds.
Action 5.4 of Housing for All committed to a review of income eligibility for social housing.
Scoping and developing options for an alternative social housing income eligibility model is a key recommendation of the Housing Agency’s review of income eligibility for social housing. Implementation of the new model will take place in 2023.
The revised thresholds will be as follows.
Band 1Cork City, Dublin City, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal, Galway City, Meath, South Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow.
Current Baseline Threshold: €35,000
Revised Baseline Threshold: €40,000
Band 2Carlow, Clare, Cork County, Galway County, Kerry, Kilkenny, Laois, Limerick City & County, Louth, Waterford City & County, Westmeath, Wexford.
Current Baseline Threshold: €30,000
Revised Baseline Threshold: €35,000
Band 3Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Longford, Mayo, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary.
Current Baseline Threshold: €25,000
Revised Baseline Threshold: €30,000
The Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Planning at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Peter Burke, has confirmed that Cabinet has approved the Local Government (Maternity Protection and Other Measures for members of Local Authorities) Bill 2022. The legislation provides a choice to members of Local Authorities to appoint an individual as a temporary substitute in the place a Councillor who takes a period of maternity-related absence or is absent due to illness. There will also be an option for a Councillor on maternity leave to avail of an administrative support allowance to help with the running of her office.
Minister Burke said:
“After significant engagement with Councillors across the country, with legal advisers and officials, and with parliamentarians across both houses of the Oireachtas, I am delighted today to secure Cabinet approval for the Local Government (Maternity Protection and Other Measures for members of Local Authorities) Bill 2022.
“The Bill has already been through Pre-Legislative Scrutiny with the Joint Oireachtas Committee and received broad cross-party support. I thank my colleagues for their input and suggestions, much of which has been included in the Bill or will be introduced by policy within Local Authorities.
“While for years the system has called for maternity leave for Councillors, because members of our Local Authorities are office-holders rather than employees, it took some time to work out the best approach to take. I set up a sub-group of female Councillors last year, who all emphasised to me that every Councillor’s situation will be different, so above all a choice would need to be offered if the scheme was going to be taken up.
“As such, this legislation offers a choice. Once the legislation is enacted, Councillors will have the choice to have an individual fill in for them while they are on leave. This would apply for all votes, all meetings and all elements of the role. Previously, I was aware of situations where Councillors felt pressure to turn up to important votes or debates, when they needed to be at home caring for a new baby. It is not credible maternity leave if you cannot fully switch off from your work.
“Separately, to ensure a fully family focused package of supports, I am bringing forward robust regulations which will mean Councillors will be able to avail of additional administrative assistance for the duration of their maternity leave. This will mean they can engage someone on a weekly basis to assist with secretarial work.
“This legislation allows us to address a deficit which simply should not exist in a 21st century workplace. Our rate of female participation in both local and national government is shamefully low, and I believe this measure will remove another obstacle and allow us to make the role of a councillor more accessible to half of our population.
“I look forward to introducing this legislation in the Oireachtas in the coming weeks."
Monday 21st November at 7.00pm I will be hosting a Webinar for First Time Buyers with my colleague Senator Mary Fitzpatrick and Paul Merriman, askPaul.ie
Are you a first-time buyer? Do you know all the schemes you can avail of?
Buying your first home is one of the biggest things you can do in life, but the State is here to help.
Register below to have your questions answered.
The expanded grant now includes eligible vacant properties in both cities and more remote rural areas (in addition to those in towns and villages, which have been eligible since July). The scheme’s expansion will help bring vacant and derelict properties back into residential use and ensure the existing housing stock is used to the fullest extent possible. It will also help limit emissions from residential construction and add vibrancy to Ireland’s cities and rural areas.
Under the Croí Cónaithe Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant €30,000 is available to homebuyers to refurbish a home which they will live in. Where a property is derelict, a maximum top-up grant amount of up to €20,000 will be available, bringing the total grant available for a derelict property up to a maximum of €50,000. The grants can also be combined with the SEAI Better Energy Home Scheme that covers works of up to €26,750.
The grant, provided through the Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund, is a key action under Housing for All, the government’s housing plan, and supports the aims of the Our Rural Future policy. Over 420 applications have been made since the grant was initially launched on 14 July 2022.
Announcing the scheme’s expansion, Minister O’Brien said:
“The expanded Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant provides a fantastic opportunity for even more people - from every part of the country - to refurbish vacant properties with the aim of converting them into their homes, enabling them to live in cities, towns, villages and rural areas.
"This scheme provides real practical help. It helps address vacancy through sustainable reuse of buildings, it helps revitalise our communities and, most importantly, it helps more people to own their own home.”
Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Planning, Peter Burke, added:
“The scheme has proven to be extremely popular since it was fist established in July with over 420 applications received by Local Authorities across the country. My department are ensuring our Local Authority teams are equipped and we now have 29 full time vacant homes officers across the country who are focused on bringing vacant stock back into productive use.”
Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, concluded:
“The most efficient home is the one which is already built. The scheme’s expansion will not only ensure that existing housing stock is used to the fullest extent possible, it will also help limit emissions from residential construction and add vibrancy to Ireland’s cities and rural areas. Used in conjunction with the SEAI Better Energy Home Scheme this grant will help homebuyers to create a comfortable, sustainable home.”
The updated application form, eligibility criteria and associated information document are available here: Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant
They provide additional information to people who would like to apply for the grant. Further information will be available from the Vacant Homes Officer in each local authority.
NotesThe Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant will now apply to all eligible vacant properties in cities, towns, villages and rural areas.
Properties considered for inclusion must be vacant for two years or more and built before 1993.
The following categories of works are eligible for grant assistance, subject to a reasonable cost assessment by the local authority and to the limits for specific works as set out in the table below. The works must be approved in advance, following inspection by the local authority of the subject property.
The scheme is exclusively available to individuals or households for which the property will be their principal private residence. It is not available to undertakings and/or developers, and so on.
A Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) Better Energy Home Scheme Grant may be available in combination with this grant. Works covered by SEAI Better Energy Homes Scheme will therefore not be covered.
Proof of both vacancy and ownership will be required to support the grant payment. In terms of ownership, it is a matter for the applicant to confirm ownership with the local authority.
A local authority may give approval in principle to a grant application where the applicant is able to provide evidence of active negotiations to purchase a property, that is, confirmation of engagement from the estate agent or owner of the property and where the owner provides such evidence as to vacancy as is required under the scheme on behalf of the applicant.
Applicants may only avail of the grant once in keeping with the requirement that it be their principal private residence.
Under Pathway Four of Housing for All (Pathway to Addressing Vacancy and Efficient Use of Existing Stock), the government has introduced a range of measures to address vacancy, including: