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Breathnach calls for additional funding to be made available to refurbish vacant social houses

Breathnach calls for additional funding to be made available to refurbish vacant social houses

Local TD Declan Breathnach has debated in the Dáil the issue of lack of local authority funding for vacant social housing refurbishment.

The Fianna Fáil TD pointed out that Louth County Council had 91 social houses vacant at present which they could not afford to bring back into use.

Speaking in the Dáil, the Knockbridge man called on the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy to make further funding available to local authorities to ensure that properties such as these can be refurbished and made available to those on social housing waiting lists.

He said: “Louth County Council has 91 vacant Social Houses that can’t be brought back into use due to lack of maintenance funding.  I called on the Minister to provide additional funding to ensure that existing houses in need of refurbishment can be brought back on-stream, as this can happen in a much faster time-frame than providing new-builds.

“Under measures announced in Budget ’19, the Government is allocating exchequer funding of almost €2.3 billion to housing programmes.  In addition, local authorities will fund a range of housing services to the value of almost €93 million from surplus Local Property Tax (LPT) receipts, bringing the total housing budget in 2019 to almost €2.4 billion.

“I pointed out to the Minister that none of this matters if the hands of local authorities are tied in refurbishing existing stock to bring back into use.  I have asked that a chunk of the funding announced in the budget be ring-fenced for local authority refurbishment works.

“It is a disgrace to have 91 empty homes waiting on upgrading works while the housing list grows bigger and bigger and we struggle with a homelessness crisis.

“Why is the Department not funding the refurbishment of all our Local Authority voids?  It does not make financial sense to have large numbers of voids while “talking up” a building programme.  It would be better value for money to fund the refurbishment,” said Deputy Breathnach.

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