Housing for All heavy on aspiration but lacks ambition on social and affordable housing

02 September 2021

Responding to the publication of the Housing for All plan, Labour Housing spokesperson Rebecca Moynihan said it was heavy on aspiration but lacks ambition on State-led delivery, said it required detailed study and that implementation will be key.

Senator Moynihan said:

“With another new housing plan published today, what people will really care about is the delivery of secure and affordable new homes, but once again there is a strong reliance on the private sector through more subsidies and schemes. There is lots of aspiration, but it lacks ambition on the State led delivery of social and affordable housing.

“With our population rising above 5 million, there is also a serious question mark about whether enough homes are being targeted on an annual basis. Some commentators have said up to 50,000 homes a year could be needed.

“The State should be directly providing at least 20,000 homes a year. That means a more direct role in the system as the private market has entirely different objectives on housing compared to the State.

“For example up to 2030 there will be 18,000 cost rental units but that is an average of only 2,000 apartments and homes that will be delivered through that stream each year. The commitment to 10,000 social houses a year is simply not enough. It also remains to be seen if the many steps and long approval process for direct build by councils will finally be streamlined.  

“I am very concerned at the reliance on incentivising investors in the private sector focused especially in the build to rent sector which will not deliver sustainable communities or secure housing. In particular, apartment standards for build to rent need to be improved because we have seen the impact of the policy disaster that is student accommodation and co-living developments.  The Minister is committing to tenancies of indefinite duration but we need to see the detail of that. Labour have published a bill to strengthen tenant rights and I hope the Minister will take that on board. We lag behind other countries on renters rights.

“There must be a strong vacant property tax delivered in the Budget that will actually bring former homes and empty apartments back into use. There can be no more foot dragging on this so a commitment to only examining it is not good enough. Institutional investors can’t be allowed leave properties vacant. I welcome that the Minister is taking on board Labour’s recent proposals on the Kenny report in the form of a ‘land value sharing’ clawback of up to half the increased value of zoned land but again, implementation will be key.

“Affordability will continue to be a real issue, and shared equity a boom to developers. Like with the Help to Buy scheme, many of these new supports for private developments will inflate prices and increase developer profits.

“We had hoped to see the government taking a much stronger line with investors in the housing sector but the reality is what they are doing is giving state money to incentivize development rather than recognising that to resolve the housing crisis requires direct state delivery at a much higher level.

“Over the coming weeks we will be examining the detail and substance of the proposals published today.”

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