Budget 2022: Threshold calls for clarity around energy efficiency measures for private rented sector
Threshold welcomes the committed delivery of housing supply but highlights “concerns” about the lead-in time of the Zoned Land Tax
Tuesday 12 October 2021 National housing charity Threshold has today welcomed the increase in the fuel allowance announced as part of Budget 2022, particularly for those low-income renters who are eligible for the allowance. However, given the government’s proposal to introduce a minimum Building Energy Rating (BER) in the private rented sector from 2025 onwards, Threshold believes that there is a need to deliver an explicit, funded pathway to this target for both tenants and landlords in the immediate future.
“The National Retrofitting Scheme must include specific measures for landlords to assist with the improvement of energy efficiency for private rented housing if enhanced BER – and related carbon emissions targets for 2030 – are to be met,” said John-Mark McCafferty, CEO of Threshold. “Given recent rises in fuel costs, BER improvements within the private rented sector are essential.”
“The commitment to increasing social, affordable and cost rental housing – which was made as part of the government’s Housing for All strategy, announced last month – will provide long-term, secure and affordable housing and will aid in stabilising the housing market,” said McCafferty. “However, in the short to medium term, the soaring demand for private rented homes will continue, and many households will rent for life. Measures such as specific energy efficiency programmes for the sector are necessary to ensure the sector is fit for purpose and becomes a more hospitable place to live.”
In relation to the government’s announcement of the new Zoned Land Tax, McCafferty said, “The idea of a Zoned Land Tax is in itself welcome, but we have concerns over the long lead-time involved, as well as the very low rate of taxation.”
Threshold awaits the Housing Minister’s Budget announcement later today, which the charity hopes will include a clear financial commitment to homeless prevention measures. Homeless prevention is noted in the Housing for All strategy as a key measure to end homelessness; funding of such measures is key in ensuring their success, according to Threshold.
In addition, Threshold believes that an increase in the base Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) rates is required in order to ensure that low-income renters are adequately supported. “Threshold recognises the government’s commitment to review the level of discretion available to the Local Authorities when approving HAP, and the fact that the number of HAP tenancies will grow,” said Aideen Hayden, Chairperson of Threshold. “The State relies on HAP and, in fact, the government has signalled its intent to increase the number availing of HAP by 14,000 next year, so it is essential to increase the rates for this reason, as well as to reduce the need for ’top-up’ payments – which leave HAP renters less well-off than their counterparts in traditional social housing.”
With an estimated one in ten renters having missed a rental payment prior to the pandemic – and with rents continuing to increase around the country – Threshold is also calling for the introduction of a Rent Arrears Fund to protect tenancies, supporting landlords and renters alike.