So-called parties of home ownership have failed on housing

Ivana Bacik TD
20 July 2023

Responding to new research from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), which shows a widening generational housing gap, Labour Leader and Party Housing Spokesperson Ivana Bacik TD has condemned the government’s failure on housing.

Deputy Bacik said,

“The two largest parties in government like to think of themselves as the parties of home ownership. However, today’s ESRI report blows that assertion out of the water. It shows that barely one-third of adults under the age of 40 own a home, compared with 80% of people aged over 40. More than a quarter of 25-34 year olds still live with their parents. This represents one of the largest home-ownership gaps in the whole of Europe. The ESRI’s findings are made particularly stark when we consider the lack of statutory protections for renters, as well as the shortage of rental properties, and high rents in Ireland. Indeed, we know that rents have continued to rise in recent years, with the standardised average rent for new tenants having increased by one-fifth between 2019 and 2022, according to the Residential Tenancies Board.

“Despite the harrowing reality for renters, the government will not even agree to introduce modest protections, such as restricting no-fault evictions. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are running scared from policies which even the Conservative Party in Britain now accepts as necessary.

“The report lays bare the different between the ‘have-lots’ and ‘have nots’ in our society. It tells us what we already knew: the government has abandoned an entire generation to the private rental casino game – a game they can only lose. Almost half of households have no housing costs at all, having paid off their mortgage or living rent-free. That figure contrasts sharply with the reality for all those locked out of housing. Through the housing crisis, generational inequality continues to widen, despite record budget surpluses and high GDP. Those who are trapped renting or living with their parents cannot afford to move on or move out; the government needs to step in and step up to change this.

“Lifting the temporary no-fault eviction ban and kite-flying more Budget measures for landlords, without corresponding measures for renters, shows that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are circling the wagons in the run-up to next year’s elections. They have got it wrong. In addition to hearing from those in housing distress, I regularly hear from home-owning adults, expressing their concern that their children and grandchildren do not have the pathway to secure housing that previous generations were able to take as a given.

“For seven years, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have held the balance of power together. Clearly, they have run out of ideas, with those locked out of housing suffering the worst consequences of that failure. We need a structural revolution in housing. Government representatives have displayed an alarming fatalism in response to Labour’s constructive proposals to increase housing supply. Anyone who wants to see how that fatalism and drop in ambition has manifested should read the ESRI’s report.”

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