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Budget boost for housing

Words: Roger Milne

The government’s latest Budget, just unveiled, included a commitment that €2.2 billion will be invested in social housing over the next three years, with 2,500 new homes targeted for delivery next year.

Local authorities will resume building houses and flats for the first time in five years. The units will be financed through a mix of direct exchequer financing, use of public-private partnerships and a special investment fund that will provide finance to voluntary housing bodies.

Some €800 million will be spent in 2015, a 40 per cent increase on the current programme, said environment minister Alan Kelly, adding that overall some 7,500 new homes will come on stream next year.

Some 3,000 homes will be leased; another 2,000 provided under the Rental Accommodation Scheme, 946 to be built or acquired by local authorities, 1,000 vacant units to be brought back into use and another 550 units provided for people with specific needs.

Kelly said that mixed tenure housing would be delivered, stressing that there will be no return to old-style "council" estates.

A "large proportion" of the new homes will be in the greater Dublin area, Wicklow, Meath and Kildare, but homes will also be built and delivered in counties where a need has been demonstrated, said ministers.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, the Budget statement indicated that spending on public transport has been retained at current levels and will target investment in national, regional and local roads, the development of projects such as Luas Cross-City, the maintenance of the rail network and upgrading of bus fleets.