Construction still needs certainty around Covid-19

This state needs the construction industry to translate these figures into much-needed housing and productive infrastructure
Construction still needs certainty around Covid-19

The CIF has welcomed the budget measures but still wants certainty around the ability of the industry to remain open if restrictions are tightened. File picture: Larry Cummins

The €10bn announced in capital investment and around €5bn in the Department of Housing’s budget for housing could insulate the economy from the worst of the cost of living with Covid-19.

With a parched economy with many sectors placed in induced comas, this state needs the construction industry to translate these figures into much-needed housing and productive infrastructure.

Our Government has heeded the IMF’s advice and increased investment into the public infrastructure by €1.6bn to over €10bn for next year. 

In the longer-term, this investment will see housing input increase towards 35,000 per annum, the delivery of hundreds of thousands of retrofits, and generate the balanced regional development envisaged in Project Ireland 2040.

Adopting this pro-investment approach means we will hand over a fully-functioning, competitive, and climate-friendly economy to the next generation rather than simply a large debt arising from Covid-19. This is why it is critical that our industry, can remain operational if the country moves to Level 4 restrictions.

The Government’s commitment to an affordable homes scheme is also welcome. We understand that €110m has been allocated to a scheme that will be similar in operation to the UK’s shared equity scheme.

The CIF also welcomes the extension of the Help-to-Buy scheme out to 2021 as it has proven to be a critical component of increasing the supply of new homes. However, this annual uncertainty about the scheme’s future is unhelpful and it should be extended out to 2025 or until output meets the recommended level of 35,000 houses per annum.

This Government appears to get the connection between infrastructure and housing with many measures designed to put the enabling infrastructure in place to allow housing to bloom across the country. 

Most impressive is the commitment to accelerate strategic projects across the regions. I would hope that this will, at last, see urban centres such as Waterford, Cork, and Limerick lead strong regional economies that provide opportunity to people to live and work in their local area.

Underpinning all this potential, is the need for Government to streamline the bureaucracies and processes that very often delay, deliver, and increase its costs. If we can do this, I believe we can bring the economy back to pre-Covid-19 economic in 2021, months ahead of estimates whilst transforming our society and solving the housing crisis.

  • Tom Parlon is director general of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF)

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