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Budget Statement 2019 (Continued)

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 973 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe] I acknowledge that where we find ourselves today is not where we want to be. There is much work to be done to reduce the level of homelessness, find permanent solutions for those in temporary and emergency accommodation and to improve affordability for those on low and middle incomes.

However, from a point where housebuilding was close to a standstill a number of years ago, the Government has made, and is continuing to make, progress. In the past 12 months, 5,000 households have exited homelessness.

Deputy Paul Murphy: Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy How many have entered homelessness?

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The housing needs of over 25,000 of our people will be met this year alone and by the end of 2018, over 70,000 housing solutions will have been delivered under the Rebuilding Ireland programme. Of these, just under 12,000 will be delivered through building, over 5,000 through acquisitions and 3,600 through leasing. A further 49,700 have been delivered through the housing assistance payment and the rental accommodation scheme.

  More new homes will be provided this year than in any year in the past decade. To support a continued increase in supply, the Land Development Agency, LDA, has been established to better co-ordinate State lands for regeneration and development. The Government has already identified a number of sites through which the LDA can deliver approximately 3,000 homes and we are in discussions with various State bodies regarding land that could deliver another 7,000 homes.

Social and Affordable Housing

  I am allocating €1.25 billion for the delivery of 10,000 new social homes in 2019. These will be delivered through a combination of construction, acquisition and leasing and will bring to 30,700 the number of new social housing homes provided under Rebuilding Ireland since 2016.

  I am also allocating an extra €121 million for the housing assistance payment in 2019 to provide an additional 16,760 tenancies next year. This support is providing a critical exit mechanism for families and individuals in emergency accommodation or at risk of homelessness.

  Recognising the challenges of our citizens faced with homelessness, I am allocating €60 million extra in capital funding for this year, much of which will fund additional emergency accommodation so that no one has to sleep rough this winter and for additional family hubs.

  Added to this, €30 million is being provided next year for homelessness services, bringing the total allocation for such supports to €146 million in 2019.

Affordability

  The affordability of housing remains a priority and I continue to work with my colleagues in government and the main Opposition party on this matter. We have established a €100 million serviced sites fund to support local authorities in bringing forward lands for subsidised, more affordable housing. I intend to increase the level of this fund to €310 million over three years. In 2019 alone, I am increasing the planned funding from €20 million to €89 million, which will bring the planned investment to over €100 million next year. This will facilitate the delivery of approximately 6,000 affordable homes over the lifetime of the fund.

  The infrastructural funding available per subsidised home is also being increased from €40,000 up to a maximum of €50,000, supporting the delivery of homes at up to 40% below market prices. Funding for the first sites will be announced later this month.

  Income eligibility limits of €50,000 for a single applicant and €75,000 for dual applicant households will apply and these will be kept under regular review to ensure they remain appropriate.

Rental Sector

  In the rental sector, I am bringing forward the full removal of the restriction on the amount of interest that may be deducted by landlords in respect of loans used to purchase, improve or repair their residential property.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Who does that benefit?

Deputy Paul Murphy: Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy Landlords will be happy.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The rate was due to be 100% by 2021 but will now be effective from 1 January 2019.

Local Property Tax

  I announced a review of the local property tax, LPT, earlier this year, together with a broad consultation process. I understand that the recent changes in property values have caused concern about future liabilities, particularly among vulnerable members of our society. I want to restate my commitment that any future changes will be moderate and affordable. The review group’s report will be published in due course.

BUILDING A MODERN HEALTH SERVICE

  The human need for safe and affordable housing is as important as the need for quality healthcare and a modern country requires healthcare services that are easy to access and that respond to the needs of all people.

  Spending on our health service is already at record levels. In 2017, OECD data placed Ireland fifth in terms of spend per capita among the EU 28. During my tenure as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, I have made the resourcing of healthcare a key priority.

  This year I will allocate an additional €700 million by way of a Supplementary Estimate, bringing the total additional 2018 investment to €1.2 billion.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath It is a black hole.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I am announcing a further increase of €1.05 billion in health funding for next year. This brings the health budget to €17 billion. Taken together, the additional investment in health in the past two years comes to €2.25 billion or an increase of 15%, the highest point in our history.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Hear, hear.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The allocation I am announcing today will facilitate a range of additional services, including initiatives proposed under Sláintecare. These include a €25 increase in the weekly income threshold for GP visit cards; a 50 cent reduction in prescription charges from €2 to €1.50 for all medical card holders over the age of 70; and a €10 reduction in the monthly drugs payment scheme threshold from €134 to €124.

An additional €84 million will be provided for mental health services in 2019, bringing the total available funding for mental health to €1 billion. This is an increase of 9%.

Total available funding for the National Treatment Purchase Fund, NTPF, will be €75 million in 2019. The extra €20 million I am making available today represents a substantial 36% increase on last year’s allocation.

I am also providing €150 million more for disability services next year to bring total funding in this area to almost €2 billion.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Hear, hear.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe With regard to the 2019 capital envelope for health, €174 million has been provided, bringing the total capital allocation to €670 million for next year.

Tobacco

  I am increasing excise duty on a pack of 20 cigarettes by 50 cent, with a pro rata increase on other tobacco products. This will bring the price of cigarettes in the most popular price category to €12.70.

  I am also increasing the minimum excise duty on tobacco products so that all cigarettes sold below €11 will have the same excise applied as cigarettes sold at €11.

Accountability

  I will continue to look at choices that we have to make in healthcare regarding how we can accompany all-time high levels of investment with improved governance, accountability, effectiveness and value for money.


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