Ireland to cut fees, increase grants in bid to boost homebuilding

DUBLIN (Reuters) – The Irish government on Tuesday announced plans to cut fees for residential developers and boost grants for renovating derelict properties in its latest bid to ease anger at soaring rents and record homelessness two years ahead of an election.

The package is the latest in a series of policy announcements by the government aimed at reducing Irish house prices and rents, which have both more than doubled over the past decade.

Opposition parties, led by left-wing Sinn Fein, have criticized the government’s reliance on the private sector and say homebuilding remains far lower than what is needed.

The government will for 12 months scrap development levies charged to connect new homes with roads, water and other services, cutting the cost of homes by an average of 12,650 euros, it said in a statement.

It will commit up to 750 million euros to help finance up to 6,000 additional affordable apartments, in part through the state-sponsored Land Development Agency.

And it will increase the maximum grant for renovating derelict properties to 70,000 euros from 50,000.

“We expect these actions to have an immediate effect and increase the number of homes being built in the coming years,” prime minister Leo Varadkar told a news conference. “We are pulling every lever that is available to us.”

A lack of affordable housing led to a surge in support for Sinn Fein at the 2020 election and has handed the former political wing of the IRA a consistent opinion poll lead. The next election is due by early 2025.

(Writing by Conor Humphries; Editing by Christina Fincher)