Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage unprecedented budget package of near €7bn announced
Capital funding being provided for housing in 2024 at a record €5 billion
Significant funding for Local Authorities, Water, Planning and Heritage
The Government’s significant investment in Housing, Local Government and Heritage was reaffirmed today [10th October] as Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Planning, Kieran O’Donnell TD, and Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, unveiled a budget package for 2024 of €6.94bn.
Reflecting the importance placed on Housing for All, the Government’s national strategy, there will be a record €5.1bn capital investment in housing in 2024 - made up of €2.6bn exchequer, €978m Land Development Agency (LDA) and €1.5bn Housing Finance Agency (HFA) funding.
The Minister for Housing also informed Cabinet colleagues today of his intention to seek Cabinet approval for an additional €6.75bn in funding for the LDA and the HFA. This is part of Ireland’s long term investment in future housing need.
Minister O’Brien emphasised that Housing for All is taking hold, with record commencements, completions and first time buyer purchases seen across 2023 - and that this year’s Budget will help add to the momentum created over the last two years.
Minister O’Brien said:
“The capital funding being provided for housing in 2024, coupled with LDA and HFA investment, stands at a record €5bn – the highest ever in the history of the State. This funding will ensure we can continue to deliver new affordable homes for purchase and rent at pace.
“More than €760 million in direct affordability and home ownership funding will support the initiatives we have put in place such as Cost Rental, the First Home Scheme, the Affordable Housing Fund, the Secure Tenancy Affordable Rental investment scheme and the Help-to-Buy initiative. I am very glad to see that my colleague the Minister for Finance has extended the Help-to-Buy to the end of 2025 and made some technical amendments ensuring its optimal interaction with local authority affordable purchase schemes.
“Our focus for capital investment in social housing will be on new build – with the funding we have received supporting the delivery of 9,300 new build social homes in 2024. I’m pleased to be in a position to announce the increase of the single stage approval process threshold from €6m to €8 million meaning our local authorities will have greater autonomy in constructing social housing developments. Social homes will also be delivered through a continuation of the successful Tenant in Situ scheme.
“The Minister for Finance has announced an increase in the Renters Tax Credit to €750 and the introduction of significant changes to the tax treatment of landlords. This is something I have advocated for and I believe is crucial as we scale up the supply of homes all across the country.
“Up to 10,200 new households will have their housing needs met under the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS), as well as continuing support for over 74,000 existing tenancies under these schemes. HAP and RAS are vital, direct, supports for households. We are reducing our reliance on such schemes and since 2020 over 14,000 individuals and families exited from HAP to social housing provided by local authorities and AHBs.
“Those without a home remain the top priority for this Government and for next year, I will be making funding of €242 million available for the delivery of homeless services to ensure that local authorities can provide emergency accommodation and others services to households experiencing homelessness , and – crucially - that households at risk of homelessness are prevented from entering into emergency accommodation and those in emergency accommodation are supported to exit into secure tenancies as quickly as possible. This will be kept under continual review in 2024 with a commitment to respond to any arising challenges and provide any necessary funding required.
“An acquisition fund of €35 million, administered by the Housing Agency, will be used for Housing First acquisitions. Housing First is an internationally recognised, evidence-based model for individuals who are long-term homeless with complex needs. In practice, it means permanent homes for individuals who have complex lives, without any preconditions around sobriety or mental health treatment, and then providing them with a range of wrap-around supports to help them maintain their tenancy. It’s a crucial scheme in our efforts to help those who have been entrenched in homelessness.
“Our efforts to tackle vacancy and dereliction will continue unabated with the Croí Conaithe fund increased substantially for 2024 which provides the funding for the Vacant and Derelict Property Refurbishment Grant and the Ready to Build Scheme. This ‘carrot’ approach will be carefully balanced with the ‘stick’ approach of the Vacant Property Tax which has been increased to five times the Local Property Tax (LPT).
“The LDA and HFA are crucial to our Housing for All plans and I will be seeking Cabinet approval in the coming weeks to capitalise the LDA to the tune of €6bn and increase the HFA borrowing limit from €10bn to €12bn as part of Ireland’s long term investment plans. The HFA increase in particular will support our AHB delivery partners to continue delivering Cost Rental and social housing at scale.
“Next year, we have the funding and focus to ensure that more homes will be built across the State for those who are looking to buy but we also have a Budget that will allow us to help the most vulnerable and assist those who need help the most.”
Other key highlights of today’s Budget announcement for housing include:
Funding of €1.86bn available to support the delivery of social homes by local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies under the Local Authority Housing, Capital Advance Leasing Facility (CALF) and Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS) budgets.
Minister O’Brien also pointed to the Budget’s largest ever allocation of €1.8 billion for Water Services in 2024. He added:
“This investment will allow us to deliver the transformative change required to respond to water quality challenges, biodiversity loss and climate change. Through this funding, we will provide for significant improvements in our public water and waste water services, support improved water supplies in rural Ireland, and support a range of programmes delivering improved water quality in our rivers, lakes and marine area”.
Regarding funding for Local Authorities, following a review of the Local Property Tax (LPT) Baseline Funding in 2023, there will be an €75.4 million increase in this funding, bringing the total baseline to €428.4 million in 2024. Every local authority receives a minimum (‘baseline’) amount of funding from LPT, supplemented by funding from the exchequer where a local authority’s LPT income is lower than its baseline.
Minister O’Donnell, the Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, welcomed the completion of this review, and noted the important work completed by the review group earlier this year. He pointed out:
“Our Local Authorities provide thousands of services and are the most visible presence of the State in the everyday lives of citizens. In the last few years, they have played a key role in the State’s response to the pandemic and to the arrival of Ukrainian people seeking shelter. This significant increase in baseline funding should go a long way towards easing current pressures on them, with every local authority receiving an increase in baseline funding of at least €1.5 million.”
Minister O’Donnell is currently progressing the necessary legislation for a Directly Elected Mayor of Limerick through the Houses of the Oireachtas with a view to enactment by the end of the year, with the first Mayoral election in Limerick being held in June 2024.
In total, funding of over €4.3 million is being provided in 2024 to support the establishment of the Office and to provide for a Mayoral Budget to support the Mayor in their role, and the delivery of their Mayoral Programme.