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The Construction Industry Federation welcomes the launch of the Housing and Homelessness Committee’s report. The report outlines a number of key recommendations aimed at resolving the interrelated problems around housing supply.
The issues of housing supply shortages, homelessness, spiraling rents and a shortage of social housing are all manifestations of insufficient activity in the housebuilding over the past 8 years. If the lack of supply isn’t addressed in the immediate term then first-time buyers, landlords, local authorities and FDI companies are all competing for inadequate supply.
The common theme throughout all discussions and debates over the past 100 days is the need to stimulate housebuilding in a sustained way. It’s a fact that the cost of building is greater than the asking price of existing stock in many places around the country. There is also widespread agreement amongst the committee and all commentators that the soft costs of building – land, taxation, development levies etc are too high and make housebuilding unviable in areas outside urban centres whilst in Dublin they make houses unaffordable for the average first-time buyer.
Minister Coveney and Minister Donohoe’s collaboration in making a €200 million fund available to deliver necessary local infrastructure is to be welcomed. It is the sort of initiative that can help reduce the cost of building houses and assist in making it viable to build and affordable to buy again.
In addition, the proposals for a VAT reduction and other cost saving measures, and a ‘Help to Buy Scheme’, mirror those that the CIF have proposed and can lead to sustainable increases in housing supply. A sensible review and possible recalibration of the Central Bank’s mortgage rules can also improve affordability for first-time buyers.
However, alternative sources of funding will have to be found to continue to facilitate the type of sustained numbers required to address all of Ireland’s housing requirements. The CIF will continue to work with the Government to implement any workable practical solutions outlined in this report and Minister Coveney’s Action Plan for Housing.
We believe that the increased levels of housebuilding must be complimented by significant increase in infrastructure investment. The houses we build in the next decade must become sustainable prosperous communities and this requires significant ambition in our infrastructure spend.