Vacant property tax dismissed - CPOs and taxes are best answer

The report by Indecon suggesting that the Government does not introduce a vacant property tax seems a curate’s egg.

The consultants suggest a programme of compulsory purchase orders would be a more effective response to the housing crisis.

The obvious, unavoidable question is why not both?

CPOs place the responsibility for jumping through myriad legal hoops on stretched local authorities.

This obligation, one that cannot be avoided unless the Constitution is changed, leads to delays that can seem more like stasis than progress, certainly in the context of 10,000 homeless people in this rich country.

The growing crisis means such delays are at best unhelpful and at worst an example of the excessive weight we give to increasingly implausible property rights.

A vacant property tax tackles the same problem but from the opposite end of the spectrum.

It places the onus on property owners to use their property or eventually lose it.

It also generates revenue whereas the CPO route seems another drain-the-public-purse bonanza for the percentage professions.

If a vacant property tax was mirrored by new tax breaks to help restore dilapidated buildings that would protect property rights as envisioned by the Constitution — unless we eventually decide to change those provisions.

At this stage reports are as helpful as the proverbial ashtray on a motorbike. More than anything else we need direct, urgent action no matter whose toes get bruised.

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