Budget 2022 is "probably the worst housing Budget" since 2016, according to Sinn Féin's Eoin Ó Broin.
He says the Budget contains "absolutely nothing for renters", and described the Zoned Land Tax as a "ringing wet damp squib".
Deputy Ó Broin was speaking after Paschal Donohoe and Michael McGrath announced a range of measures around housing, including:
- €202m for retrofitting homes, which will support 22,000 energy upgrades
- The Help-To-Buy scheme being retained for 2022 at current rates, with a 'full review' next year
- A Zoned Land Tax to encourage the use of land for building homes - applying to land that's zoned but undeveloped
- A pledge that a new Mica redress scheme will be announced 'in the coming weeks'
However, Deputy Ó Broin told The Hard Shoulder a lot of these measures simply do not go far enough.
He said: “This is probably the worst housing Budget we’ll have seen since Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael started collaborating together in 2016.
“The social housing targets will see 1,000 less social housing delivered next year than was originally planned by Fine Gael. That’s a negative.
“All that’s committed to in direct capital expenditure is about 1,000 genuinely affordable homes to rent or buy - half of what’s targeted for in the Government’s housing plans.”
The Sinn Féin TD said there's nothing for renters in the Budget - "nothing on rents, nothing on standards, nothing on security".
He observed: “Renters need relief now - they can’t wait for 5-10 years down the line. What we should have seen in this Budget was a refundable tax credit to put a month’s rent back in every renter’s pocket, and a three-year ban on rent increases.
“The crucial point is rents are too high, and the easiest and quickest way - albeit expensive - [to reduce rents by about 8.5%] is a refundable tax credit and a ban on rent increases. We can’t allow rent to continue to spiral out of control.”
Zoned Land Tax
Deputy Ó Broin is also critical of the planned Zoned Land Tax.
He argued: “Here’s the crazy thing: they’re going to have a 2-3 year lead-in for this land value tax, and then it’s going to be set at 3% - lower than the current vacant site levy, and much lower than the actual price of land value inflation.
"Really it’s not a serious proposition at all. I’m sure most land-holders out there will be delighted.
“The point of the tax is not to raise income - it’s to stop land-hoarding. Paschal Donohoe made that clear. But if you’re going to charge a lower rate of tax than is currently charged… then that’s not going to have any impact on land-hoarding.”
He said the proposal being put forward suggests "the Government doesn’t understand the problem or just lacks the urgency to tackle it".
Deputy Ó Broin also doesn’t think people will be any better off with changes around fuel - saying the Government's raising the fuel allowance by €5, but also raising the carbon tax.
He suggested a carbon tax is only effective when there are cleaner and cheaper alternatives available - something he says many families don’t have access to at the moment.
He noted: “When you look at what’s happened with energy and fuel prices, now is not the time [to increase the tax].
"Many working families… are going to be much worse off, and they don’t have an alternative available to them.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Ó Broin said the Government “hasn’t even begun” to tackle the Mica and pyrite scandals - saying the amount of money allocated in the Budget is “an insult” to impacted families.