Government Spin on Renting Fools No One

Ivana Bacik TD
19 June 2023

Responding to revelations that just half of eligible renters have registered for the tax relief scheme for renters’, Labour Leader and Spokesperson for Housing Ivana Bacik TD has said that the low uptake exposes the shallowness of Government schemes which are mooted as panaceas for renters.

She compared the disappointing figures with the slowness with which the Government has rolled out its proposed first refusal scheme for renters whose landlords are selling up.

Deputy Bacik said:

“Although disappointing, news today that just half of the 400,000 people who are eligible to claim the much-heralded renters’ tax credit have actually availed of the scheme comes as no surprise.

“In successive parliamentary questions, submitted by me to the Minister for Finance, the slow take-up has been evident. These latest figures confirm what we all know: the Government is eager to launch policies to much fanfare and applaud but, in reality, those policies lack depth and are unable to help the majority of people who are struggling in the rental sector.

“In response to criticism of Budget 2023, which offered little help to renters in an historic cost-of-living-cum-housing crisis, the Government was highly self-congratulatory about this scheme, which is valued at up to €500 per person, or €1,000 for jointly assessed couples who paid rent in 2022.

“As if plucked from thin air, the tax credit for renters was never going to make an impact for the hundreds of thousands of people paying an average of nearly €20,000 per year to live in a rented home.

“The Minister should not infer from the low uptake that renters do not need a dig out. Let there be no doubt, renters are suffering, and what was announced in Budget 2023 has not provided the certainty they need around security of tenure this winter, nor the clarity needed that their rent won’t rise in line with the tax credit announced.

“The decision to lift the eviction ban, with no evidence basis or meaningful contingency plan, has only compounded the need for real measures in 2024.

“We in Labour reiterate our call on the Minister for Housing to urgently pass Labour’s Renters Rights Bill, which would end no-fault evictions and bring in additional measures to guarantee security and affordability for all. Even the Conservative Party in Britain has taken the plunge and announced plans to end no-fault evictions.

“The defective tax credit scheme was doomed from the start. Although there are renters who have now received their credit, the numbers who did not speak for themselves. Moreover, those renters whose tenancy is not registered with the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) do not even have the option to claim for the credit. I have heard from numerous such renters who are frustrated that they are excluded from the sole scheme made available to them as part of Budget 2023. They feel disempowered and fearful to report their illegally unregistered tenancy for fear of losing their home.

“The reality is that the Government continues to repackage its old, unworkable policies without grasping the nettle on renters’ rights.

“When we do see new schemes, such as this tax credit, the tenant in situ scheme, and the first refusal scheme which was announced as the eviction ban was lifted, they tend to be hastily announced and cobbled together.

“Indeed, when the first refusal scheme was announced in response to criticism of the shameful decision to lift the ban with no meaningful modelling or contingencies in place, it was mooted as some sort of panacea for renters. We have yet to see any detail on how this scheme will work or when it will be introduced. In response to parliamentary questions from me, the Minister for Housing was incapable of explaining if properties offered to tenants would be offered at market-rate, or if second refusal would be offered to local authorities.

“Clearly, the Government is out of its depth. It is time to end the stream of tokenistic and ineffective policy launches. They must pass Labour’s Renters’ Rights Bill – there is no other way.”

Stay up to date

Receive our latest updates in your inbox.
By subscribing you agree to receive emails about our campaigns, policies, appeals and opportunities to get involved. Privacy Policy

Follow us

Connect with us on social media