Cillian Sherlock, PA
The Government is “committed” to introducing budgetary measures for landlords, according to Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien.
He said the Ministers for Finance and Public Expenditure have “clearly signalled” a desire to attract and retain landlords in the rental system which he added has been under strain for years.
“We are committed to effective and meaningful measures in the upcoming budget in that space.
“We want to make sure, fundamentally in everything that we do, that those that need most get most, and that we continue in that space as well.
“Working families, people who aren’t working as well, those who have special needs and disabilities, our elderly too.
“So, you know, this Government, I think, has been very progressive in the manner in which we have put forward the budgets.
Asked by journalists if Fianna Fáil would support a tax break after reports that Fine Gael was seeking relief for average-income households, Mr O’Brien said it is far too early to speculate on Budget 2024.
“We’ll see what happens, but we’ve got to be careful about how we manage our finances too.
“And we will be and that will be a decision that will be taken by Government as a collective, by all our TDs and by Cabinet in particular, as to how we move forward.”
He said there would be a number of suggestions, but the budget would be “fair, pro-enterprise and pro-family”.
Mr O’Brien was speaking at the expansion of a EnergyCloud social enterprise pilot project which diverts excess renewable energy to heat homes.
Fingal County Council has become the first local authority in the State to partner with EnergyCloud to provide free hot water to homes using surplus renewable energy.
The project, which is already under way with the approved housing body Clúid, is supported by SSE Airtricity.
EnergyCloud chair Gabriel D’Arcy said hundreds of millions of euro worth of electricity is wasted due to a lack of demand at a time when 550,000 households are suffering from fuel poverty.
He said up to 80,000 homes have registered for the scheme which involves the installation of a €250 device which uses surplus energy to heat immersion tanks.
Mr O’Brien said about 1,000 homes had been connected already through the scheme.
He said he expects to have 10,000 homes connected by the end of the year.
Asked if the high level of sign-ups showed there was a problem with fuel poverty in Ireland, the minister said Government has given direct support to families.
“What we’ve done obviously throughout the cost-of-living crisis too is being able to support households directly to reduce their household bills, and we continue to do that, we had a very significant package running into over €9 billion in additional cost-of-living measures, and we’ll continue to keep this under review as we move into this winter.”
Asked about repurposing office blocks for housing, Mr O’Brien said: “We’ve got to look at all avenues and to se e what things can be done to look at where there may be surplus office space, or what can be repurposed into housing. But we need to actually increase our housing supply.