For Oral Answer on : 26/01/2023
Question Number(s): 96 Question Reference(s): 2853/23
Department: Housing, Local Government and Heritage
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
* To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage the overall amount available in 2022 and 2023 for the vacant properties refurbishment grant as part of the Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund; the amount made available for each local authority; the amount drawn down to date by each local authority; the number of applications per local authority completed; the further number being considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– David Stanton T.D.
For ORAL answer on Thursday, 26 January, 2023.
Tackling vacancy is a key priority for this Government. Housing for All, the Government’s housing strategy sets out a blueprint to address vacancy and make efficient use of our existing housing stock. Many areas of cities, towns and villages of all sizes face the blight of vacant properties, which, if brought back into use, could add real vibrancy and provide new accommodation in those areas. The Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund is a key initiative which underpins these policy objectives set out in Pathway 4 of Housing for All and I welcome the opportunity to briefly provide an update in respect of the Fund.
In July 2022, I launched the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant as part of the Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund. The grant benefits those who wish to turn a formerly vacant house or building into their principal private residence, making it their home. When I launched the grant, it was in respect of vacant properties in towns and villages. The initial response was very positive and in order to maximise the number of vacant properties which could be brought back into use, I announced the expansion of the grant to include eligible vacant properties in both cities and rural areas from the 15 November 2022.
A grant of up to a maximum of €30,000 is available for the refurbishment of vacant properties for occupation as a principal private residence, including the conversion of a property which has not previously been used as residential. Where the refurbishment costs are expected to exceed this amount, a maximum top-up grant amount of up to €20,000 is available where the property is confirmed to be derelict. This brings the total grant available for a derelict property up to a maximum of €50,000.
Feedback on the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant has been very positive since it was launched with 716 applications reported to end December 2022 and I expect the numbers will increase further following the expansion of the grant.
On 21 September 2022, I also launched the Ready to Build Scheme, also funded by the Croí Cónaithe (Towns) Fund. Under this Scheme, local authorities will make serviced sites in towns and villages available to potential individual purchasers to build their homes. These sites will be available at a discount on the market value of the site for the building of a home.
My Department is engaging with each local authority in respect of sites which might be suitable for the scheme.
My Department is monitoring how both schemes are operating and engaging with the Vacant Homes Officers in each local authority. Data in respect of these schemes is currently being collated and verified and will shortly be published on my Department’s website on a quarterly basis and will include county level breakdowns.
In 2022 there was no allocation limit set for local authorities in respect of the schemes as it was anticipated that actual drawdown would be low at the start while the schemes were getting up and running. In 2023, €24 million is available for the schemes and we will keep the question of allocations under review and monitor drawdowns.
My Department will be keeping the schemes more generally under continuous review and it is intended that a comprehensive review and evaluation of the Croí Cónaithe Towns Fund will be undertaken by mid-2024.
Acknowledging the administrative overheads in delivering both schemes, my Department is providing project management support funding of between €60,000 and €180,000 to each local authority to deliver the schemes. In 2022, €1.38 million was provided to 21 local authorities who applied for this funding.
The most efficient home to deliver is one which already exists. I firmly believe that these schemes can play a vital role in delivering homes and revitalising local communities.