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New Vacant Site Levy data raises serious questions - Thomas Gould TD

27 November, 2020 - by Thomas Gould TD

Sinn Fein TD for Cork North Central Thomas Gould has called on the Minister for Housing to issue an urgent statement outlining his plan to reform the Vacant Site Levy.

Deputy Gould’s comments come after figures published by the Parliamentary Budget Office show that only four local authorities reported collecting revenue under the levy in 2020.

Teachta Gould said:

“The Vacant Site Levy (VSL) was brought in to encourage landowners to utilise their empty land and build houses. It would appear that it is failing miserably in this attempt. As of the end of 2019, only 17 of 31 local authorities had active vacant site registers.

“The VSL is determined at 7% of the market value of a site. Only four local authorities reported collecting revenue under the levy in 2020 and again, only four reported the same in 2019. The levies collected were nowhere near the site value. Cork City Council have collected just under €21,875 to date in 2020, with vacant sites of an estimated market value of €27 million - this represents only 0.08% of their value.

“Thirteen local authorities responded with an estimated number of houses that could be built on their vacant sites. They estimated that 14,995 houses could be built. Given that eighteen local authorities didn’t respond, this is a shocking figure. At the end of 2019, there were 501 people on the social housing waiting list in Sligo, for example. The local authority estimated that 1,487 houses could be built on vacant sites in the county. Building on even one third of these sites could meet Sligo’s social housing need.

“Local authorities have raised many concerns about the Vacant Site Levy including confusion in determining vacancy. What is clear is that this is not working and that something needs to be urgently done to ensure that sites are not left sitting idle while people wait for homes.

“The Minister for Housing needs to respond to this report and publish a strategy to ensure that we see homes for workers and families built on vacant sites.”

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