Mr Phil Hogan TD, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government addressed key stakeholders at the Grant Thornton Construction Workshop. The Minister spoke about measures introduced in the budget aimed at providing a boon for the building sector.
The Minister said, “Perhaps the most helpful announcement in the budget, from a construction perspective, is the Home Renovation Initiative which will incentivise domestic renovations and increase demand for small construction jobs. Under the scheme homeowners will gain an income tax credit of 13.5 per cent for an investment of between €5,000 and €35,000 on home improvements carried out by a tax-compliant contractor.”
This comes after the announcement that under Budget 2014 The Department of the Environment , Community and Local Government will oversee a capital investment programme of €311m that will be allocated to a variety of large, medium and small-scale capital projects in the areas of urban regeneration, social housing development, and upgrade works, pyrite remediation, rural water schemes, local and community services and fire and emergency services.
“Indeed, said the Minister, “A further €50m is also being made available to the Department for investment in the new Infrastructure Stimulus Plan.
But the Minister was particularly anxious to highlight measures being taken to put the consumer first where the building sector was concerned. After the shambles of Priory Hall and the problems faced by people whose homes suffered from pyrite, and all this as a result of light-touch building regulation by previous administrations, the Minister wanted to make it clear that those days will be well and truly relegated to the past.
“These initiatives along with the Governments capital investment programme provide an important contribution to growing our construction sector. However, the nature of the sector must be very different from that which developed during the so-called boom years. In particular, better regulation and oversight of the sector is essential to ensuring a more sustainable industry and better protection for the consumer. I see these as critical reforms if we are to demonstrate that we have learned anything from the experience of the last two decades, said the Minister.
Earlier this year Minister Hogan signed The Building Control (Amendment) Regulations. “These regulations are part of a wider package of building control reforms which, taken together, will provide stronger consumer protection than heretofore in this critically important area, said the Minister.
Minister Hogan also announced the creation of a new statutory register of builders and contractors which he said will enable consumers to ensure they hire competent contractors while simultaneously ensuring that all statutory, regulatory and legal requirements are complied with in a verifiable and transparent manner.
“I see this register as the keystone to the future of a quality construction industry in Ireland and a robust statutory system will be in place by 2015, said the Minister.
“The register will play a vital role in the continuing clampdown on activity in the shadow economy and I expect industry to work together with Government in driving out reckless and non-compliant contractors from the industry, concluded the Minister.