With Budget 2020 announced on Tuesday 8 October, we are taking a look at some of the proposals outlined in our Pre-Budget Submission.
One of our central aims is to increase the supply of social housing, with a particular focus on aligning housing delivery to housing needs and to bring empty homes back into use.
Delivering housing for single person households
The single biggest cohort on the social housing waiting list are single person households. Single people also represent the largest proportion of people experiencing homelessness. Unfortunately, there is a severe under supply of one-bedroom homes for this key group. Not only does this increase social housing waiting times and stays in homelessness, it also makes the delivery of key initiatives such as Housing First much harder to achieve.
We’re calling on the government to increase the delivery of one-bedroom units to meet the needs of single-person households. We are encouraging the government to provide an additional €200 million investment in capital housing projects for local authorities and to ring-fence that increased capital budget to deliver housing for single person households.
Bringing empty homes back into use
Schemes introduced to encourage the re-use of these buildings have not met the targets set out by Rebuilding Ireland. There are a number of reasons for this, one of which is the cost of the refurbishment works required and the rising cost of construction projects.
Introducing a 0% VAT rate for construction projects involving long term vacant and derelict properties for use as social housing would encourage more owners of vacant properties to reuse them, and in particular, ensure that the cost of renovating these properties is fully appreciated.
Additionally, we would like to see the government increase the maximum interest-free loan amount available under the Repair and Leasing Scheme from €40,000 to €70,000 in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, and Waterford.
Peter McVerry Trust has also proposed the introduction a reduced rate of Capital Gains Tax when an owner of a long term vacant property, in an area of social housing need, sells that property to an Approved housing Body (AHB) or a local authority.
Empty homes tax
Since 2016, Peter McVerry Trust has been advocating for the introduction of an empty homes tax. It is now imperative that local authorities, especially those with acute housing needs and/or high levels of vacancy are given a toolkit to push owners to act.
An empty homes tax is not about raising revenue, but rather about creating more social housing, improving communities, and lessening carbon outputs by re-using existing stock.
Amend the Fair Deal Scheme
The Nursing Home Support Scheme (Fair Deal Scheme) sees individuals and families leaving readily habitable homes vacant due to punitive tax rates on income generated from rental income. Under the current model, 80% of rental income generated by letting out a property under the Fair Deal scheme goes to the HSE.
Peter McVerry Trust is calling on the government to amend the current scheme to give owners of properties, which are left empty during a nursing home stay, the option of leasing or selling them to an AHB or local authority for use as social housing.
Read our pre-budget submission in full here.