Cian O'Callaghan TD

Serious questions must be asked about whose interests are being served by this Bill

Billed as this government’s landmark piece of housing legislation, the Affordable Housing Bill falls significantly short on several fronts, according to the Social Democrats Housing Spokesperson Cian O’Callaghan.

“The Government’s Affordable Housing Bill is flawed on a number of fronts. The shared equity scheme will drive up house prices, cost rental will be more expensive by allowing profit extraction by investors, and the affordable purchase homes are unlikely to be affordable. This Bill should be renamed the Unaffordable Housing Bill.

“Internationally, cost rental is regarded as a form of not-for-profit housing that keeps rents low by linking them to building costs and removing profit margins. However, this Bill proposes that cost rental includes a private profit. This stretches the concept of cost rental to breaking point.

“Crucially, the Bill is lacking even a basic definition of what an affordable home is. We have reports that homes that cost €500,000 will be classed as affordable – affordable homes should be half that price. This underscores how out of touch the Minister is. We need affordability to be linked to income, not just as a discount on excessively high market prices. This scheme will add fuel to the fire of increasing house prices.

“The Social Democrats have not been alone in criticising the shared equity scheme –  the Central Bank, the ESRI and senior officials in a number of Government Departments have all said that it will push up house prices, which are already too high.

“What has become clear is the Minister for Housing has no interest in taking on private vested interests. Instead, he has capitulated to lobbying from property developers who want to keep house prices high. That is the reason the shared equity Scheme remains in this Bill.

“I’ve repeatedly called on the Minister to publish any – absolutely any – independent analysis or advice that supports his decision to introduce the shared equity scheme. He has failed to provide any credible evidence to support his plans to push up house prices even further.

“The people need a government that is on their side. A government that delivers affordable homes. A government that builds sustainable communities. A government that puts the interests of people first and a government that is not easily led by lobbyists.

“Serious questions have to be asked about whose interests are being served by this Bill. Why is it being rammed through the Dáil this week? Why isn’t it being properly debated and scrutinised? Are they afraid that the holes in their plan will be exposed?”

8 July, 2021


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