Rinne sé botún. Go raibh míle maith agat, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle.
To delete all words after "Dáil Éireann" and substitute the following:
— as recognised in the Government's housing strategy 'Housing for All - a New Housing Plan for Ireland', there is a housing crisis in Ireland affecting ordinary working people who aspire to the security of home ownership, which demands a response from the Government on an unprecedented scale;
— Ireland is experiencing an acute gap between housing supply and demand, exacerbated by the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and global supply-chain disruption, which requires, in line with Housing for All's four pathways, short-, medium- and longer-term State interventions;
— increased supply of social, affordable and market-supplied housing is the key solution to Ireland's housing concerns;
— meeting strong demand for urban living, with people wanting to live close to work and urban amenities, requires action to ensure developments at scale in our cities, particularly close to public transport connections and existing infrastructure and services; and
— there is a dearth of supply of apartments to buy in our urban cores, but there are high numbers of planning permissions already granted that could meet that demand if they are activated;
— the development and implementation of the Housing for All strategy, and its commitment to massively expand the role of the State and invest unprecedented sums to achieve the Government's aim that everybody should have access to sustainable, good quality housing to purchase or rent at an affordable price;
— the ambitious targets in the Housing for All strategy of over 300,000 new homes by 2030, with over 90,000 social homes and 54,000 affordable homes, recognising that delivery will ramp up over time as industry capacity increases and in response to Government interventions;
— the record levels of State investment in housing, with over €4 billion per annum in Housing for All funding;
— the most ambitious social housing building programme and affordable housing building programme in the history of the State;
— the confirmation that the measures introduced by the Housing for All strategy are helping to increase housing supply, with 5,669 new homes in Q1 of this year, the most in any first quarter since this official Central Statistics Office statistic began back in 2011, and 22,219 new homes completed in the last four quarters;
— the clear increase in construction activity demonstrated in the 34,846 new homes commenced in the 12 months to March 2022, the highest rolling 12-month total since comparable data was first published;
— the range of measures already introduced under the historic Affordable Housing Act 2021, including the 'First Home' Affordable Purchase Shared Equity Scheme, the Local Authority Affordable Purchase Scheme, and the expansion of Part V of the Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2020 to include affordable units;
— the fact that over 32,700 first-time buyer households have been supported into home ownership by the Help to Buy scheme since 2017; and
— the separate measures in the Housing for All strategy to bring forward more supply, including the recent launch of the Croí Cónaithe (Cities) Scheme, as one of a number of Housing for All measures to bring forward over 5,000 new apartments for owner-occupiers, planning consented and ready-to-start housing construction and, in particular, address the challenge of apartment delivery in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford; and
— the Government's commitment to supporting home ownership through a range of targeted measures;
— the Government's continuing work under the Housing for All strategy to secure the delivery of housing in partnership with local authorities, the Land Development Agency (LDA), Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs), and private industry;
— achieving more compact growth and vibrant liveable cities with a greater range of options for both owner-occupiers and renters in cities, at all income levels, which as a first step requires that stalled apartment developments with planning permissions in place are built and occupied;
— the Croí Cónaithe (Cities) Scheme, as a short- to medium-term, time-bound measure, to activate the delivery of 5,000 apartments in high demand areas of the existing built up footprint of our cities for sale to owner-occupiers;
— the benefit of the proposed support ultimately going to the purchaser and not the developer, who is enabled to buy an apartment in a core urban location which would not otherwise have been built, at a price well below the development cost;
— the fact that the scheme will support the construction of apartment schemes where there is a viability gap between the cost of constructing an apartment and the apartment's open-market value (if the market value is lower than the cost of constructing it), as without this support these apartments would not be built, and the homeowner will get the benefit of this by being able to purchase apartments to live in at a regular market price;
— increasing the supply of owner-occupier apartments to free up housing in the rental sector;
— the open Croí Cónaithe call for expressions of interest for apartment developments in our cities which is underway now and for the next six weeks, and applications will be assessed on an open book basis and approved with strict conditions on delivery, appropriate development and benefit to the owner-occupier purchaser;
— in addition to and along with the Croí Cónaithe (Cities) Scheme, new affordable purchase schemes by local authorities and the 'First Home' Affordable Purchase Shared Equity Scheme, which will support households with affordability challenges to achieve home ownership, meaning potential buyers can access both Croí Cónaithe (Cities) Scheme supports and the 'First Home' Affordable Purchase Shared Equity Scheme;
— the further expansion of the Cost Rental sector in Ireland, which has already seen the first homes tenanted at rates of 40 per cent below market through the work of local authorities, the LDA and AHBs; and
— the LDA's plans to deliver affordable homes, with construction to begin this year on over 800 new homes, planning applications recently lodged for over 2,300 further homes on State lands, and proposals under the Home Building Partnership (Project Tosaigh) to deliver 5,000 new affordable and social homes by 2026 through engagement with private developers to unlock land with full planning permission that is not being developed due to financing and other constraints."
I thank Deputy O'Callaghan and his colleagues from the Social Democrats for tabling this motion. I wish to address a number of the points that have been raised.
As recognised in our housing plan, the Housing for All strategy, and as we all know, there is a crisis that affects ordinary working people who aspire to the security of home ownership, which demands a response from Government at an unprecedented scale and means doing things. Ireland is experiencing an acute gap between housing supply and demand, which is exacerbated by the economic effects of Covid-19 and global supply change disruption and which requires, in line with Housing for All's four pathways, short, medium and longer term State interventions.
Increased supply of social, affordable and, indeed, market supplied housing is key to providing a solution to Ireland's housing crisis. Meeting strong demand for urban living with people wanting to live close to work and urban amenities requires action to ensure we have developments at scale within our cities, particularly those that are close to transport connections and existing infrastructure and services so that is compact urban growth. There is a dearth of supply of apartments to buy in our core urban areas but there is a large number of planning permissions already granted that could meet much of this supply if activated.
Housing for All will deliver 300,000 new homes by the end of 2030. It will deliver 90,000 social homes, which will be new builds, and it will deliver 9,000 this year, which is the single biggest number of social homes delivered in any year in the history of the State. That is a fact. It will deliver at least 36,000 affordable homes and at least 18,000 cost-rental homes. That represents record levels of State investment in housing with more than €4 billion per annum. The supply pipeline is strong, thankfully, and nearly 5,700 new homes have been delivered in quarter 1 of this year, which is the most in any first quarter since this Central Statistics Office, CSO, statistic began back in 2011. There have been more than 22,000 home completions in the last four quarters. Nearly 35,000 new homes were commenced in the 12 months to March 2022. Again, that is the highest 12-month rolling total since these figures were collated. More than 32,700 first-time buyers have been supported into home ownership by the help-to-buy scheme since 2017, which we have continued.
The Government is committed to supporting home ownership through a range of targeted measures, including the delivery of housing in partnership with local authorities, which we are doing and doing this year, the Land Development Agency, which we are doing, approved housing bodies and, indeed, private industry. The Government is committed to achieving more compact urban growth and vibrant liveable cities with a greater range of options for both owner-occupiers and renters in cities of all income levels, which as a first step requires that stalled apartment developments with planning permission are put in place and are occupied.
The Land Development Agency plans to deliver affordable homes with construction to begin this year on more than 800 new homes. Planning permissions have been recently lodged in the last few weeks for a further 2,300 homes on State land. There are proposals under Project Tosaigh, which concerns unactivated planning permissions and partnering within the sector, to deliver 5,000 new affordable and social homes by 2026 through engagement with the sector to unlock land with full permission that is not being developed due to financing.
It is estimated that there are 70,000 uncommenced planning permissions in the five main cities of Cork, Dublin, Limerick, Galway and Waterford. The figure for unactivated permissions in Dublin alone is approximately 40,000, which is about four years of housing supply in this capital.
The Croí Cónaithe cities scheme will help to activate the build-to-sell portion of these figures. The Croí Cónaithe cities scheme will deliver up to 5,000 apartments by 2026 for people to buy. It will help increase the supply of new apartments in these cities by activating the construction of apartments that already have planning permission. The scheme will support the construction of apartment schemes where there is a proven viability gap between the cost of constructing an apartment and the apartment's open market value if that market value is lower than the cost of construction. The planned scheme is a short to medium-term measure. It is time bound and is aimed at increasing the supply of apartments for home owners. It will increase the choice of homes available to buy and will ultimately free up supply in the private rental market.
I want to be very clear on this point. The benefit of the proposed support goes to the owner-occupier, the purchaser, who is unable to buy an apartment in a core urban location which would not otherwise have been built at a price below the development cost. That is a fact. I will give Deputies a particular example. Where an apartment costs €350,000 to develop but the market rate is €250,000, then the person buying it will pay €250,000. Better still, people can use the help-to-buy grant to become eligible for the deposit. Should they wish they can use the Government's soon to be launched first-home shared equity scheme, which again the Deputies opposed. That is fine and is their right. The Deputies who have called for the scheme to be scrapped obviously do not want individuals living in city centres and they do not want compact urban growth or 15-minute cities.
Through a range of measures the Government is incentivising the supply of different tenures - social, affordable, private rental and private ownership. We are investing in new build social schemes like never before, delivering affordable housing to buy and rent and introducing measures to incentivise the building of homes for owner-occupiers. The support payable per apartment will be the viability gap calculated for each apartment. We have detailed that very clearly and that is exactly what will happen. It is important to emphasise that it is anticipated that targeted supports will differ across a range of different apartment types. For one-bedroom apartments, where it has been proven that there is a viability gap, then the figure is between €25,000 and €60,000. It will be between €60,000 and €85,000 for two-bedroom apartments and up to €120,000 for two to three-bedroom apartments. Where does that support go? It goes to the purchaser, the owner-occupier with exacting conditions and proposals through expressions of interest on an open-book basis. It is as simple as that. This is a quick and efficient way of activating dormant permissions within cities.
I thank the Deputies for tabling the motion because it allows me the opportunity to outline the Government's position. The Social Democrats voted against all Government legislation, so I know very clearly what they are against but I have very little clue what they support. They are against build-to-rent and now, apparently, they are against build-to-buy. They are against the help-to-buy scheme, which has supported 30,000 home owners to get their deposit together to purchase home. This is the same help-to-buy scheme that would be available along with this measure. That means the people who are stuck in the very rental trap that we are talking about or living at home with their parents will be able to own their home at an affordable rate. They are also against the first-home shared equity scheme, which can be used alongside this initiative or for all new builds, and not just by first-time buyers but for those on the Fresh Start principle. They are opposed to that too. It is scheme that will launch on 1 July. It is a scheme that will help people bridge the gap between the finance they have and the finance they need by the State stepping in and taking that equity. It is not a second mortgage as some of them claimed when the scheme was launched. They continuously, and rightly so, call for State lands to be used to build homes but are against the Land Development Agency. The agency was set up and we have legislated for and funded it specifically for that purpose.
The Deputies say they want homes built on State lands but they vote against the legislation. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan and his party are against home ownership, affordable and cost rental. As he is aware, his colleague voted against 1,200 new homes in Ballymastone in Donabate, of which 253 would have been affordable and 253 social. That was opposed by the Social Democrats and that is fine. The record shows what the Social Democrats did. Just last week, Deputy Shortall, the co-leader of the Social Democrats, posted online her regret at an application for 99 apartments in her constituency. That is awful, is it not - that we are building new apartments? She posted her regret that that is happening. Is the Social Democrats really against home ownership? It appears that it is. The Government is already ensuring that we can activate uncommenced planning permissions. The only comment I have seen from the Social Democrats is in a paper where it mentions the "use it or lose it" provision which the Government is doing already. We want to pull all levers available to provide homes for people, and that includes short-, medium- and longer-term measures while we are delivering the supply that is happening.
I support home ownership and social housing. I do not vote against it or the legislation that is brought forward in the House. I do not vote against the budgets the Government put in place to deliver housing at a scale that has never been seen before. We are proposing it and working it through and we are seeing that supply being activated during a very difficult time for people. I know what the Social Democrats is against. The motion refers to a gift. It is nothing like a gift; it is assistance and support to the homeowner and purchaser. Let us be honest with people in that regard. It is clear from the measures the Social Democrats has taken - opposing the Affordable Housing Act, the Land Development Agency Act and any new initiative proposed by the Government - that it does not want to see progress.