‘Pathetic’ Vacant Sites Levy returns demand action – McGuinness

Sinn Féin Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has called on the Minister for Housing to urgently engage with the local authorities about reforming the Vacant Sites Levy.

Waterford was one of only four local authorities that reported collecting revenue since the scheme. Less than 2% of the total amount owed to Waterford for 2019 has actually be collected. 

Councillor McGuinness said:

“The Vacant Sites 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 was determined at 3% of the market value of a site for 2019 and stands at 7% for 2020, yet the actual revenue from the levy has been pathetic across the board. Waterford is one of only four local authorities that have reported collecting any money under the levy in 2019 and again in 2020. Of €255,365 projected revenue for Waterford in 2019 only €3,645 was actually collected last year. 

“This levy is intended to promote house building on vacant sites, to prevent land speculation and hoarding, and to provide local authorities with funds to invest in housing stock. It doesn’t seem to be meeting any of these objectives. 

“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 Government made much of its promise to reform the levy but we have yet to see or hear anything concrete n this regard. It needs to be reformed to make it work, not to make it easier for speculators to hoard land. 

“The Minister for Housing needs to stop wasting time and he needs to engage with local authorities on this matter immediately.”