Housing plan lacks strategic focus
Housing is undoubtedly one of the most pressing issues facing Irish society. It is important the Government’s Housing Action Plan succeeds. However it must be closely monitored.
It is concerning there is nothing in the plan to stop developers hoarding land when it could be used to build urgently needed homes on. The Minister himself has acknowledged this is a problem. The Labour Party wants the recommendations of the Kenny Report to be implemented to prevent developers from being able to continue this practice.
It is also disappointing to note there is very little in the plan by way of improving security for people renting their home. In the Labour Party’s Social and Affordable Housing Bill launched yesterday, we proposed that rent increases are linked to the Consumer Price Index to prevent rents being unfairly and disproportionately increased. There is also not enough in the plan to stop landlords evicting tenants because they want to sell the property.
It will come as a concern to students and their families that the Government has referenced student housing in their plan but has no specific framework to tackle the serious shortage of affordable housing for students.
The Labour Party would have liked to have seen more emphasis in the plan on local authorities providing housing. It seems that the private sector is being relied upon too much to meet the Government’s housing targets. There are many carrots for developers in this plan and not enough sticks. Previous experience has clearly shown that housing provision works best when local authorities are playing a key role.
I hope the Housing Plan Action does deliver because the shortage of affordable homes and security for tenants needs to be immediately tackled. The Labour Party will continue to put forward constructive proposals on this issue.