Environment Minister Alan Kelly confirmed that a “significant” housing package to stimulate building is being planned, to address the huge demand in the private sector. He also hit out at “unscrupulous” landlords who are hiking up rents across cities and towns.
The Irish Examiner has learnt that incentives for developers being considered by his department include reducing the cost of Vat for building materials for developers. This has been compared to how a reduction in Vat in the hospitality sector helped restaurants, hotels, and the tourism sector.
A cut in development levies, set by individual local authorities, could also be on the cards. Senior government sources also said the taxes that are applied for land transactions may be reduced under the package being considered.
The package is being put together by Mr Kelly, Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin, and Finance Minister Michael Noonan.
Speaking in Wicklow at Labour’s think-in yesterday, Mr Kelly said: “At Government level we’re working on a package to achieve that, a substantial package.”
He criticised soaring rents and said his department was examining a rent control system which would give tenants security.
“Rent is a key issue,” said Mr Kelly. “I think it is an issue that needs to be dealt with. In particular, unscrupulous landlords who are upping the rent and the scale of it is completely morally unacceptable. It has to be addressed.”
Elsewhere, Labour agreed to proceed with a voting transfer pact with Fine Gael. It will not be part of its official campaign on posters and leaflets and candidates will not be required to endorse their Coalition constituency colleagues on doorsteps with voters, confirmed Labour sources.
“This will be at a macro level and endorsed by the leaders. But you won’t see it anywhere,” said a source.
Tánaiste Joan Burton said she wanted to stay the full term and go for an election next year.
However, she and Mr Kelly, who is director of elections, admitted most of Labour’s constituency selection conventions had taken place and that, if needed, the party could be ready in just a “matter of days” to campaign if an election is called.
“We will have a very ambitious manifesto based around recovery, renewal, reform and in particular based around continual progress based upon getting people back to work,” she said.
However, she also said that repealing the 8th Amendment, which guarantees the right to life for the unborn in the Constitution, was not a “red-line issue” for the election. This is despite Labour voting earlier this year to put this in their election manifesto.
Her comments come after Taoiseach Enda Kenny last week said he would not guarantee holding a referendum on abortion if the Coalition is given a second term.
Meanwhile, Labour senior figures will today detail to TDs and senators plans for the budget, the election as well as the party’s manifesto.