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Taoiseach says current Government won’t solve homeless crisis

Speaking last night on TV3’s Tonight with Vincent Browne, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the housing and homelessness issue will not be solved in the lifetime of this Government. 

Even though his forecast was negative, he said the Government was accelerating the construction of social housing and would publish a National Development Plan before the end of the year which would set out capital investment of around €80 billion over ten years.

The Government was looking at the existing plan of buying and leasing houses off the private sector, he said, and perhaps changing this to building more houses instead.

As well as this the Taoiseach said he would be in favour of a vacant homes tax. He said:

“There are a lot of vacant properties in the country, some of those could be renovated and brought into use, some could be purchased, and I think we need to impose penalties on people who leave houses vacant in areas where there’s a very demand for housing, and those houses should be in use,”

In the half hour interview Mr Varadkar also said the office of Taoiseach had proven to be a “steep learning curve.”

On the issue of tax increases he said he would’t rule out raising some taxes in the future but disagreed with his host that such an approach was needed to deliver a more equal society.