Housing plan update gives ‘real grounds for hope’, Taoiseach says

Housing Plan Update Gives ‘Real Grounds For Hope’, Taoiseach Says
Simon Harris said that supply “will have an effect on demand and affordability” and in the interim there are a number of “unprecedented interventions” by the Government.
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Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

Taoiseach Simon Harris has said an update on the Government’s housing plan provides “real grounds for hope” but acknowledged that the Government needed to act faster.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said his Housing for All plan was two years old and progress had been made “across all delivery streams”.


He said the development levy waiver, which has been extended until the end of the year, and the refunding of water and wastewater connection charges until October had “without question, led to a surge in homebuilding”.



The measure, brought in to try to offset the increased cost of building materials, has “worked”, Mr O’Brien said.

They were speaking at the launch of a Housing for All update at Government Buildings, alongside Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan.

Mr Harris said people should get “a real sense of confidence” that in the first three months of 2024 building had commenced on almost 12,000 new homes, which he said was a 60 per cent increase on this time last year.

He acknowledged that there are hard-working people in Ireland who still struggle with high rents – but refused to be drawn on what he thinks an “affordable” home is.


Mr Harris said that what housing affordability is depends on the person’s circumstances and that the Government should provide a “diversity” of housing options.

The Taoiseach said he would not do what Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald did, referring to her statement that the average house price in Dublin should fall to €300,000.

“There isn’t one single figure in relation to affordability because affordability varies depending on a person’s circumstances,” Mr Harris said on Wednesday.

He said it also “has to factor in” Government housing supports that are available.



Mr Harris added: “When we read about affordability often in media reports and the likes, it quotes headline figures of homes.


“But actually when you look at the range of schemes that Government has put in place, many first-time buyers aren’t having to pay up all of the headline figure because of a range of Government intervention.”

He said: “I don’t think we’ve seen very significant indications at all that so far the additional supply has had an impact on affordability.

“I think the reason for that is relatively straightforward and goes back to my earlier points about the need for us to be more ambitious in terms of where we get to, we’ve come from a very, very low base in terms of housing supply, we’re now exceeding targets but we know there’s still a lot of pent-up demand in terms of getting to a point where supply matches demand.”

Mr Harris said that supply “will have an effect on demand and affordability” and in the interim there are a number of “unprecedented interventions” by the Government – the First Home Scheme and the Help to Buy scheme.

Asked about why the Government hit its overall 2023 target for building homes, but missed its social homes target of 9,100, Mr O’Brien said that the roughly 8,100 homes built was a “massive jump up” in the construction of social homes.

He said: “Go back two years, that was 5,400 – that’s a massive jump up. Yes, it didn’t meet the 9,100, but it was a very significant scaling up.

“As I talk to you here today, there’s about 26,000 social homes in the pipeline under construction or about to go under construction.”

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