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Record March housing figures shows government measures are working – Cummins

18th April 2024 - Helen McEntee, TD

4900 homes commenced construction in March, representing a 51% increase on the same period last year – this demonstrates that government activation measures are working, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Fine Gael Housing Spokesman Senator John Cummins said: “This data clearly shows that the time limited waiver of development contributions and refund of Irish Water connection charges has had the desired effect of driving house commencements.

“These initiatives by government were well received by the construction sector and they have responded as I would have expected them to. Let us not forget that opposition parties argued against the introduction of these initiatives, as they have done with virtually all housing policies. Had we listened to them, there is no question that we would have had lower commencement numbers and anyone that suggests otherwise clearly doesn’t understand the construction sector.

“Since last year, builders of new-build homes have not been required to pay development levies to local authorities for new build homes. Instead, the local authority invoices the amount of the levy to the government, who refunds it back to the local authority. In addition, water and wastewater connection charges levied by Uisce Éireann are refunded to the developer when valid commencement notices are issued,” Senator Cummins explained.

“The waiver and refund schemes have proven immensely effective, as evidenced by the increase of commencements. The data over the past 5 months clearly indicates an even greater ramp up by the sector:

  • 4900 housing units were commenced in March
  • 3699 housing units were commenced in February
  • 3357 housing units were commenced in January.

“If the pace of commencements we have seen since the start of the year continues, we can project the commencement of 47,824 units by the end of this year, which will obviously feed through to the completion statistics for 2025.

“Government action to activate the delivery of more homes is working. However, we need to guard the progress that is being made and ensure the upward trajectory continues. This is why it is very important that the development levy waiver and Irish Water refund scheme is continued to year end. Perhaps given the overwhelming evidence of commencement statistics for the past five months, opposition parties will acknowledge that their disapproval of these measures was misguided.

“I won’t be holding my breath for this admission however, because they still maintain that abolishing the Help to Buy and First Homes Scheme will have a positive impact on the market,” he concluded.

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