Irish construction industry leaders warned to finalise Brexit plans

Construction industry experts and senior executives in Ireland have been warned to finalise their Brexit preparation plans.

Irish premier Leo Varadkar urged industry leaders to ensure they are preparing for all of the possible impacts of Brexit, including a no-deal scenario.

He made the comments at the annual Construction Industry Federation (CIF) conference in Dublin on Wednesday.

More than 500 members attended CIF’s – the construction industry’s representative body – flagship event in Croke Park.

Mr Varadkar said: “I know your sector is concerned about the risks posed to product supply chains due to the certification requirements of some construction products.

“The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government will work with you to make people aware of the issue and to mitigate any impact.

“More broadly, the Government is providing help to get businesses Brexit-ready.

“Last month we launched the Getting Your Business Brexit Ready – Practical Steps campaign which outlines nine steps all businesses should take to prepare for Brexit, and there are many financial and other supports available.

“I ask you all to finalise now your Brexit preparations, to make sure you are preparing for all of the possible impacts.”

He said that public capital investment will increase by a further 10% next year, whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a Brexit deal.

“This will make us one of the highest-investing countries in Europe when it comes to infrastructure,” he added.

The housing crisis and infrastructure gaps were the focus of the conference.

CIF has called for an extension of the Help to Buy scheme as they say many housebuilders have reported that between 40% and 80% of homes sold to first-time buyers are currently enabled by the government-led scheme.

Mr Varadkar urged the CIF and the construction sector to set out its own, detailed, long-term vision for the industry.

He added: “We are beginning to see the results when it comes to housing.

“Every year housing construction is increasing and there is growing evidence of house prices levelling off. More than 20,000 new homes were built in the past year.

“The Government’s policy is to ensure there is a greater supply of housing: social housing for people on the housing lists; private housing for people who want to buy because most people want to buy their own home; and places available for people to rent.

“Housing of all forms, because that’s what’s needed.”

Speaking at the conference, Pat Lucey, CIF president, said: “Developing effective collaboration between the state and the construction industry is essential for the delivery of large-scale infrastructure and, of course, housing delivery.

“We are on the road so to speak but we are not there yet.”

Tom Parlon, CIF director general, said: “Currently, the Central Bank guidelines make it impossible for the average couple to secure mortgages.

“We’re proposing a shared equity scheme whereby the Government take a small stake in newly-built houses to reduce the level of deposit required to secure a mortgage.

“We’re looking for other sensible and sustainable measures such as recognising rent history as proof of ability to repay mortgages.”

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