Time to level the playing field for housing in Ireland

Senator Rebecca Moynihan
06 October 2021
  • Labour would build an additional 2,000 social homes in 2022
  • 3% use it or lose it site levy
  • Introduce a Rent to Buy scheme

Launching Labour’s Alternative Budget housing spokesperson Rebecca Moynihan said the speculative housing market has a hidden human and social cost we can no longer afford, calling on government to prioritise building more affordable homes, freeze rents and tackle homelessness in Budget 2022.

Senator Moynihan said:

“The pandemic has exposed the social cost of high rents, insecure housing and proved the need for an increased role by the State in the provision of housing. Caught in a cycle of ever rising rents and house prices, young people have lost hope of ever affording a home to call their own. The cost of living continues to soar in Ireland while household incomes have not kept pace. This is driving ever more people into homelessness and destroying the morale of ordinary people. Our alternative proposes to build and build back fairer.

“Housing for All doesn’t deliver enough State led social and affordable housing, continuing to rely on a developer and investor led approach. This commitment must be increased to 20,000 homes per year to address the huge existing need and unmet demand. Our alternative proposals would allow for the building of an extra 2,000 social homes in 2022 in addition to the targeted 10,000 under all delivery streams that are funded for next year under the National Development Plan. The supply crisis for homes can only be sustainably resolved through long-term State action that delivers affordable housing once and for all.

“Our Alternative Budget would also establish a fund to provide increased levels of affordable housing over 5 years, starting with €5 billion from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund and €500 million of annual seed capital to end the now permanent housing crisis.

“The past five years of prosperity have been wasted on sweeteners for investors and developers. We need to change that and change it now to bring more homes into supply. Our Budget would introduce a use it or lose it 3% site levy for Strategic Housing Development sites with planning permission that have been undeveloped within 12 months of receiving permission. Investors and developers can’t be allowed to continue to sit on land which could be used to put a roof over people’s heads.

“It is long past time for the Government to introduce a Vacant Homes Tax. A strong Vacant Homes Tax would actually be able to bring former homes, including permanently empty apartments and derelict houses, back to use. By introducing this and improving CPO powers and funding for local authorities to repurpose empty homes, we can get more houses into supply. We would also increase the Vacant Sites Levy to 10%, enforce it and ringfence resources in councils to register and inspect vacant sites.

“Renters are often the forgotten story in the housing crisis with many paying unaffordable rents that have skyrocketed in recent years. Renters are not transient. They must be properly protected as the economy recovers. They need a break. We are once again urging the Minister to progress our Renters’ Rights Bill to redress the power imbalance in the market. It would restrict the grounds for evictions and introduce a range of measures that would improve the quality of rental accommodation, including giving the right to an unfurnished home and ending blanket bans on pets. This would have a tangible, positive effect on the everyday lives of renters across the country.

“Too many people are struggling to pay high rents, or simply can’t find an affordable place to live. Adults are having to live with their parents while struggling to save a deposit to buy their own home. We propose the development of a Rent to Buy Scheme where a person with a tenancy for three years that pays their rent would see it turned into a deposit for the property that they would then go on to own. We need to be ambitious in our thinking for the many renters that are besieged by the rental market.

“We have an opportunity to give a fair chance to people across the country and to provide equal opportunity for all. We need to level the playing field when it comes to owning a home in this country. I would urge the government to use this year’s budget to tackle the housing crisis and provide a fair chance for every person struggling.”

ENDS

New Deal for a Fairer Ireland – Labour’s Alternative Budget is available at this link: https://www.labour.ie/assets/files/pdf/a_new_deal_labour_budget_2022.pdf 

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