Tánaiste Leo Varadkar sets new target of 40,000 housing units to be built per year

TÁNAISTE Leo Varadkar has set a new target of up to 40,000 new homes built each year to reach a target of 70% homeowners by the end of the decade.

In his speech to the Fine Gael ard fheis on Saturday evening, Mr Varadkar, whose party has been in government for a decade, said the dream of owning a house was “out of reach for far too many” and “must to again become a reality ”.

It has pledged to double the current number of homes built each year – and build about 7,000 more per year than the government currently plans – in order to increase the overall rate of homeownership in the country. ‘State.

“We must renew the social contract and make owning one’s home a fundamental element of it. Tonight I want to set a goal of getting back to 70% ownership by the end of the decade. This will require building up to forty thousand new homes each year, double what we are now, ”he told delegates.

“This will be done through public and private investment, and we will advocate for the construction of new communities and new housing – social, condominium, rental at cost, student housing, housing for rent and most importantly, housing for purchase.

“Housing is a human right, but that does not mean anything to say it or to enshrine it in law. You have to think it through and make it happen. This means voting for new housing and not against it, it means stronger protections for tenants, encouraging investments not to hunt them down and helping first-time buyers get a down payment and a mortgage.

Speaking at the end of the Fine Gael’s five-day online event, Mr Varadkar also reiterated the party’s position that there will be “no stealthy income tax increases or intentional, because we believe in rewarding work with better wages and fairer taxes. “

He said the financial supports introduced during the pandemic will remain in place for as long as they are needed “so that every business has a chance to recover and grow.”

In the wake of the pandemic, Varadkar called on his party to embark on a “new mission” to build a “just society”.

He pledged to improve wages and conditions for low-paid workers, saying the definition of essential workers has been redefined. It’s not just nurses and doctors, Gardaí and paramedics, he said, “but also supermarket workers, drivers, cleaners and people working in production and food service “.

Mr Varadkar said the legacy of the pandemic must be better wages, general conditions for all workers, in the public and private sectors and urged his party to introduce statutory sick pay, the shift to a living wage and access to an occupational pension for all employees to supplement their retirement pension.

“Reform our social protection system to provide a better safety net for people who lose their jobs or take the time to care for others,” he said.

Mr Varadkar said that a “new normal” in the workplace means making it easier for people to work at home or in a center near their place of residence and said: “The future of work must be more favorable to people. family, women must have the same opportunities as men with regard to pay and promotion, and the pay gap between men and women must be closed.

He also pledged to make the Irish health service one of the best in Europe by the end of the decade by keeping the € 4 billion in additional funding that has been provided to the health service to make in the face of the pandemic.

Mr Varadkar said the government is committed to restoring all jobs lost due to the pandemic and having 2.5 million people working in Ireland by 2024.

“This will require a huge expansion of higher and further education, skills development, lifelong learning and learning as we prepare our young and old for the jobs of tomorrow,” said he declared.

Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar described Ireland as a “high tax economy for a lot of people”. In a question-and-answer session with members of Fine Gael, Mr Varadkar said Ireland’s highest tax rate is the fourth highest in the developed world and dismissed claims that the Coalition plans to index income tax brackets, as part of the program for the government, amounts to a tax cut.

“We’re a tax-high economy for a lot of people, and it’s not the rich, who get less than $ 40,000 for a single person, and that means any extra money you make – a bonus, a raise. , a raise, a little bit of overtime – you’ll lose over half of that in income taxes, PRSI and USC, and we really think that’s unfair, especially for middle incomes, ”he said. he declares.

He said indexing income tax brackets was not just a matter of fairness, but that it made economic sense because of the “battle for talent” going forward.

“We’re going to have to compete internationally to find talent to bring in people who have very good qualifications, who can have high incomes – talented people – to settle in Ireland and not work remotely from others. parts of the world, ”he said. .

“And just as high corporate taxes mean less income, when income taxes are too high, it can also mean less income, and that’s why we’re committed to making sure we don’t. increase in income tax, either stealthily or intentionally. during the period of this government.

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