Antisocial policies which enable vacancy and dereliction must be tackled

Ivana Bacik TD
13 July 2023

Speaking in the Dáil today, Labour Leader and spokesperson on housing, Ivana Bacik TD, called on the Government to take stronger action to tackle vacancy and dereliction.

Deputy Bacik said:

“While official figures understate the true scale of the problem, we know that nearly 200,000 homes (including seasonal holiday homes) lie vacant or derelict at any one time here in Ireland. A scandalous 37,000 homes have lain vacant since 2016.

“This should offend us all at a time when 12,441 people are recorded as homeless and 150,0000 full time workers aged 25-34 are stuck living at home with their parents.

“Vacant and derelict sites blight our town and cities. They must be tackled if we are to bring our urban centres back to life and address the housing disaster.

“Land is a finite resource. Properties which are left vacant for a prolonged period should be compulsorily purchased and local authorities should be resourced to do so.

“Moreover, the state should leverage the institutional knowledge within the state, such as An Post and auctioneers, to ensure that the vacant and derelict sites registers are up to date. Sites cannot be allowed to stay empty, particularly when their owners allow that state of affairs to continue so that they can speculate on the value of their property.

“The Government has implemented a vacant homes tax of three times the local property tax – that is welcome. However, it does not go far enough. For bigger, corporate owners who are speculating on property, taxation is not enough. We in Labour would introduce a ‘use it or lose it rule’ for uncommenced planning permissions and vacant property. There are 30,000 such planning permissions in the Dublin City Council area alone.

“The CPO process should be streamlined. Furthermore, Labour’s Acquisition of Development Land (Assessment of Compensation) Bill 2021 would limit financial speculation on land by, finally, implementing the Kenny Report. All the Government needs to do is let us pass it.

“There needs to be a step-change in housing provision. Our population is growing but housing supply does not even meet current need. As part of our Labour plan for one million homes in ten years, I have called on the Government to commit to refurbishing and retrofitting 50,000 homes per year.

“We need skilled workers to carry out this vital work. More construction skills must be added to the Critical Skills Employment Permit (CSEP). So many people I speak to are shocked to learn that these skills are not already the subject of an aggressive international recruitment campaign, given the scale of the housing crisis.

“It takes ambition and State investment to tackle a housing crisis but it can be done. Tackling vacancy and dereliction is key to making sure that everyone has a home. Only ideology – not the economy – is holding us back.”

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