The reality is this government has just one overarching idea to solve the housing crisis – increase exorbitant house prices even further

It has taken more than a year in office for Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien to publish a housing plan that is short on both ambition and imagination, according to Social Democrats Housing Spokesperson Cian O’Callaghan.

“Those at the coal face of the housing crisis will take little comfort from the housing plan that has belatedly been published by the Minister today. When it comes to the provision of affordable, cost-rental and social homes, the plan is short on both ambition and imagination.

“Incredibly, the plan contains no increase in annual social housing delivery beyond commitments already made in Budget 2021. This will mean that the government’s disproportionate reliance on the private market, expensive HAP payments and long-term leasing of social homes will continue long into the future.

“This lack of ambition is also evident when it comes to cost rental. There are more than 300,000 households in the private rental sector, paying among the highest rents in the EU, yet the Minister plans to create just 2,000 cost rental homes per year. This will barely make a dent in the demand. The plan proposes just 2,000 direct build affordable purchase homes a year – this is a sharp decrease from the 10,000 affordable purchase homes a year promised by FF during the election campaign last year.

“The failure to introduce a vacant home levy, with the Minister preferring to kick the can down the road, is a missed opportunity to get much-needed homes back into use. Fine Gael, in government, first promised to introduce a vacant home levy in 2017. It has yet to materialise. Now the Fianna Fáil Minister has delayed its introduction even further. Given the huge carbon footprint of each new home that is constructed, coupled with the length of time it takes to construct new homes, prioritising a way in which vacant stock can be brought back into use is an essential aspect of addressing the housing crisis.

“The proposed land value sharing measure falls far short of implementing the 1973 Kenny Report. In fact, it even falls short of an 80pc tax, on windfall profits from rezoned land, that had a brief existence in the 2011 Fine Gael and Labour government. The proposed measure will not deliver land for development at affordable prices and, as a result, house prices will remain unaffordable for many.

“The reality is that this government has just one overarching idea to solve the housing crisis – increase exorbitant house prices even further. The Minister’s determination to proceed with a shared equity scheme, and his decision to boost subsidies for developers even further, is more evidence of the developer-led approach to housing that has created, and sustained, this crisis.

“The ESRI have said capital investment in housing should be doubled to at least €4 billion a year. This plan falls far short of that with capital Exchequer investment likely to remain at just €2 billion per annum. The government should take advantage of record-low investment rates to invest in housing. Investment in housing is an investment in the people of this country, particularly young people, and will help both society and the economy to thrive.

2 September, 2021


Back to all Posts