Dáil debates

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

3:00 am

Photo of Séamus BrennanSéamus Brennan (Dublin South, Fianna Fail)

I join the Deputy in complimenting the Make Room organisation and its component organisations. I have no difficulty with their objectives and what they want to achieve. We are making good solid progress in that direction generally.

On the question of rent caps, I concentrated on the rent supplement scheme because, I suspect, the question is also tabled to other Departments and I chose to deal with the part of it that referred to my Department, namely the rent supplement scheme.

I have rehearsed the argument here for being cautious about increasing the cap. If we account for 40%, or almost that percentage, of the rental market in the State and if we set the figure too high, we will drag up rents; and if we set the figure too low, we will not do enough for the people who need our support for rent supplement. Therefore, we have to set it at a figure that is practical and almost ensure there is tension in this respect to ensure we do not drag up figures in the market. All the evidence and advice available to me suggests we must set the figure at a very practical level to prevent our being a market leader and leading the rents upwards.

The current limits are being reviewed for January next. In setting them, we will take into account the points made by the Deputy. We are examining the possibility of setting them in a much more regional sense. Rents in one area are different from those in another. We will probably fine tune them substantially around regions and take account of the type of people involved. For example, single male accommodation is a particular problem area.

The Deputy's point about linking tax relief under section 23 to the State's need in this area is an interesting idea. The Government has not approached the issue on that basis. I do know whether rent relief could be restricted as to the eventual use of a property. I doubt if we could say that one could only have a 23% tax break on a property provided it is used by a local authority or by the State. I have not considered that proposal but it is an interesting thought. Off the top of my head, it seems fraught with all sorts of legal difficulties in terms of specifying that a property must be used for that purpose. I encourage the Deputy to advance the idea to see if it can be bottomed out and whether there is any room for its progression. Tax breaks are currently available to developers for a range of properties and the State enters the market in terms of securing accommodation and constructing its own properties.


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