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Ireland’s ‘Housing for All’ plan: funding and delivery

Out-Law Analysis | 24 Sep 2021 | 10:04 am | 2 min. read

The Irish government has announced Ireland’s largest-ever housing budget as part of its housing plan to 2030.

Its ‘Housing for All’ plan estimates that 33,000 additional homes need to be constructed each year until 2030 to meet the targets outlined in the National Planning Framework. Building these new homes will cost an estimated €12 billion annually, and the plan presents a number of new opportunities for investors.

The government has allocated a €20 billion budget through the Exchequer, Land Development Agency (LDA) and Housing Finance Agency over five years to support its aims, with significant private sector investment also anticipated.

Supporting home ownership and increasing affordability

Key target outputs include delivery of 6,000 affordable homes per annum (2021-2030) for purchase or for rent by local authorities, Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs), the LDA and strategic partnerships between the state and retail banks.

Monaghan Garrett

Garrett Monaghan

Partner

The plan estimates that 33,000 additional homes need to be constructed each year until 2030, and presents a number of new opportunities for investors

Additional innovations, for the Irish market at least, include a number of new schemes, such as a shared-equity first home scheme; a new local authority-led affordable purchase scheme; cost-rental homes; and expanded local authority home loans. There will also be new opportunities for banks and financial institutions, for example in the form of equity-shared ‘First Home’ scheme.

The long-standing requirement for developers under part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 to provide zoned residential land to the state will increase to 20%, and apply to affordable as well as social housing.

Eradicating homelessness, increasing social housing delivery and social inclusion

More funding will be made available to AHBs through increases in the budget available for the Capital Advance Leasing Facility.

Strategic partnerships between local authorities and AHBs will be promoted to give AHBs an expanded role in providing housing management services, including through public private partnership (PPP) housing developments. PPPs will be used more often to deliver social housing.

In addition to the existing acquisitions under the Housing Agency Acquisitions Fund, the government will fund local authorities and AHBs to acquire 200 existing properties each year.

Increasing new housing supply

In addition to funding from the Exchequer, state borrowing, Home Building Finance Ireland and the domestic banking sector, external sources of finance will be required.

An average annual investment of €4bn will be sourced through €12bn in direct Exchequer funding to be allocated for social and affordable housing between 2022 and 2025, plus €3.5bn in funding through the Land Development Agency (LDA) and €5bn of funding through the Housing Finance Agency (HFA).

The HFA will be tasked with strengthening relationships with international funding partners, such as the European Investment Bank and the Council of Europe Development Bank, to access targeted funding. HFA will finance local authorities and AHBs to deliver housing.

Capital requirements for public housing will be provided through National Development Plan funding. Private sector housing will be funded through the domestic banking sector and state financial agencies. Proactive engagement with international institutional investors will take place to reach these capital requirements.

The Department of Finance’s statistical unit will assist the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in assessing investment proposals, in particular from the AHB sector, to assess the likelihood of attaining an off-balance sheet statistical classification for AHBs.

Addressing vacancy and efficient use of existing stock

Local authorities will use funding programmes such as the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund and the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund to help regenerate their towns. The plan also proposes the use of compulsory purchase orders for vacant properties, and the possibility of introducing a new vacant property tax.

An implementation fund of €7m annually will be established to deliver the plan. In addition, to support the plan, €4.5bn in water infrastructure is to be invested to 2025. This will be 80% funded through the Exchequer and the remainder coming from non-domestic customers and new connections.

Co-written by Shani Stallard of Pinsent Masons