Budget 2024, and every budget announcement by Government are important for our membership and the households they visit. The housing budget is particularly significant. Homelessness is the most severe form of poverty. SVP members also see the struggles and challenges endured by people they visit dealing with hidden homelessness, overcrowding, high rents, poor and unhealthy living standards. It is disappointing that Budget 2024 with record surpluses available to the Government did not grasp the true scale of the crisis and be ambitious in its pursuit in improving people’s living situations.
Delivering much needed social and cost rental homes as quickly as possible is necessary to alleviate the negative impacts of the housing and homeless crisis on families, children and individuals. In Budget 2024, funding for an additional 9,300 social homes will be available. The commitment to build 9,300 social homes in 2024 is welcome, however, a shortfall of 1,567 on the 2022 target is still outstanding. In a housing and homeless crisis, it is unacceptable that targets are not being met. Given the budget surplus, and the focus on child poverty and wellbeing in Budget 2024, it is disappointing that there was no commitment to providing a timeline to take children out of emergency accommodation into homes built by the State.
An acquisition fund of €35 million, administered by the Housing Agency, will be used for Housing First acquisitions. We are disappointed to not see an extension of Housing First to families. Homelessness has increased in 2023 at an alarming and unprecedented rate, with family homelessness increasing by 88% since Housing for All was first introduced in 2021.
The tax credit to renters was announced in Budget 2023 for the first time and retains the same eligibility previously. This means that many of the households our members support cannot avail of the €750 rent credit. It is only available to renters who earned at least €20,000 in the previous year and who were not in receipt of any state housing subsidy.
Budget 2024 also introduced additional tax relief for landlords by incrementally increasing the rental income disregard to €5,000 by 2026 on condition that they remain in the market for the full five years of the relief. Children need to have a stable, secure home while they grow, develop and progress through the education system. This tax relief to landlords will not provide that stability.
Up to 10,200 new households will have their housing needs met under the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS), as well as continuing support for over 74,000 existing tenancies under these schemes.  We have advocated that a dedicated homeless prevention budget be introduced, and increases to HAP and Rent Supplement rates be introduced, as well as providing support to tenants in rent arrears. The private rented sector will continue to play a big role in accommodating low-income households, in the absence of sufficient numbers of social and cost rental homes. Therefore, more needed to be delivered to ensure people can stay in their homes and avoid homelessness.
The tax measures announced, and increases to the numbers of households availing of housing subsidies provide little certainty for families and individuals living in the private rented sector. An increased supply of social and affordable cost rental homes are the most beneficial mechanisms to making renting more affordable and secure for low-income households.
Everyone deserves a home that is affordable, secure and is suitable to a person’s needs. Similar to previous budgets, Budget 2024 will assist in achieving that reality for some children, families and individuals. However, it fails to understand the true scale of the housing and homeless crisis, and as a result has failed the most vulnerable, particularly children experiencing homelessness.
 Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage ‘‘Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage unprecedented budget package of near €7bn announced’’https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/ac507-department-of-housing-local-government-and-heritage-unprecedented-budget-package-of-near-7bn-announced/
 Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage ‘‘Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage unprecedented budget package of near €7bn announced’’