Ms Jan O’Sullivan TD, Minister for Planning and Housing, today (1 March, 2013) allocated capital funding of €275 million to 34 City and County Councils under the Social Housing Investment Programme for 2013.
This will be allocated to city and county councils under a number of measures including:
- New housing supply including Traveller accommodation – €69.3m
- Regeneration, estate remediation and energy retrofitting – €111.4m
- Voluntary housing construction – €55m
Some €35 million is also being provided to support the suite of grants for older people and people with a disability living in private housing. These grants, which are administered by the local authorities, provide 80% of the cost of adaption or other necessary works.
Recognising that the housing challenges are particularly acute at this time, the Minister said, “the difficulties facing the State’s finances and the necessity to reduce public expenditure to sustainable levels are impacting on capital programmes all across the public sector, including the social housing programme. As a result of the budgetary adjustments, capital spending on new construction projects is down on last year.”
“In response to this reality I’m committed to developing other funding mechanisms that will provide additional sources of capital funding and will grow the supply of new social housing.
“Two specific areas that I’m pursuing are:
(i) the scope for the non-profit Approved Housing Bodies to engage with the social housing finance models whereby the State might provide an up-front portion of overall cost and subsequently lease back the properties for long-term social renting, and
(ii) availing of funding from EU Structural Funds and the European Investment Bank for the deep retrofitting of older apartment blocks and social housing estates by way of low-interest, long-term loans.
The Minster continued, “I am focussing investment in 2013 on improving the quality and standard of the 130,000 social houses with the objective of enhancing comfort levels and making dwellings more energy efficient and less costly to heat. This year I am bringing in a new ,measure which will specifically target older apartments and houses and involves the insulation of attics and walls, draught-proofing windows and door and the fitting a lagging jackets and heating controls”.
The terms and conditions of the suite of private housing grants will be amended to better target those individuals and families in most need. The average grant payment in the case of adaptations and extensions for persons with a disability is less than 30% of maximum currently available, while the average mobility aids grant and the average grant for repairs to older people’s houses are 40% and 55%,respectively, of the maximum currently available.
“I believe it is equitable therefore to reduce the maximum grant available in order to ensure that those most in need can continue to access the significant funding available,” the Minister concluded. Details of the amended scheme for private housing grants will be announced in the coming weeks.