Today's budget has welcomed investors back into the housing market. Stamp duty for investors is to be restored to the same level as for owner occupiers, with a tiered system up to 9% on property worth over £500,000. This provision will come into effect tomorrow.

The Minister for Finance has restored interest relief as a deductible expense in calculating tax on residential rental income. This will be effective from 1 January.

Charlie McCreevy has also extended the deadlines for property investment projects under the Urban and Rural renewal schemes.

Three years ago, the Government backed measures to discourage housing investment so that ordinary people could afford to buy. Although these measures were effective, the supply of rental property dried up meaning that rents soared.

The measures were welcomed by the Construction Industry Federation. However, the director of homelessness charity Threshold described the budget as "disastrous" and as "a u-turn". Kieran Murphy warned that it would have adverse consequences for potential first time buyers and for those in the rental sector, as they would yet again be competing with investors for property.

The Minister also stated his commitment to investment in infrastructure and the National Development Plan. Mr McCreevy has added an extra €550m in capital spending for various projects including €146m on social housing.