The Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH) has said the Budget 2021 capital investment in public housing is a positive response to the scale of the housing crisis and sends a clear signal to approved housing bodies (AHBs) and local authorities to meet and even exceed existing targets that will boost the delivery of permanent social housing.
Speaking after the Budget 2021 statement today, and welcoming the €3.3 billion 2021 funding allocation for housing, Chief Executive of the Irish Council for Social Housing, Dr Donal McManus said: “The pandemic has intensified the housing crisis, and today’s significant capital funding increase is a commitment to protecting the social housing pipeline and increasing delivery to the 2021 target of 12,750 new social homes. What we must ensure is that we can actually spend this money and that any obstacles to the local authority and approved housing body construction pipeline are removed. We are asking that Government designate residential construction as essential work so that sites can remain open if the country moves to Levels 4 & 5, and once all public health guidelines are adhered to by the construction sector”.
The ICSH is pleased to see an almost €500 million increase in the capital funding programme for housing, to just over €2 billion. The dedicated €110 million allocation towards affordable housing and towards the delivery of 400 cost rental homes by AHBs in 2021 is particularly welcome. The AHB sector has been calling for the cost rental intermediate model to be developed as a matter of urgency. Cost rental housing will assist those on modest incomes who are struggling with high rents and will help build mixed income communities. Additional funding has been earmarked for developing the infrastructure for affordable and social housing delivery, and includes the Serviced Sites Fund and the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF). The €65 million plan for retrofitting 2,400 social homes is progressive and helps to deliver on our ambition over the coming years to future-proof our social housing stock. The increase in the current spending commitment for homeless services (to €218 million for 2021) also signals that national policy is recognising the ever increasing need to support hosueholds to exit homelessness into permanent housing.
Dr McManus added: “This additional capital investment will build on a growing base of funding that will sustain and increase employment in the construction sector and mitigate the impact of the pandemic. Our Approved Housing Body members have a healthy delivery pipeline of over 11,000 homes. The impact of Covid 19 will be felt for some time but AHBs are determined to keep up the pace of progress and to meet their targets”.