The current approach to housing policy in Ireland is not working; the private sector will never build social housing units on the scale required. Government must commit to building sufficient social housing units to eliminate the current housing waiting list. This is the only way to address Ireland’s ongoing housing and homelessness crisis. This is a key finding of Social Justice Ireland's National Social Monitor 2017.
Over half of the 91,600 households on the waiting list for social housing are families, and there are 1,330 children under the age of ten in Ireland who are homeless. This is simply unacceptable and a clear indication of how Government’s approach to housing policy is failing.
Government must expand local authority construction of social housing units. By doing this Government could eliminate the current social housing waiting list and significantly reduce the pressure on the private rental market. Social Justice Ireland has identified a number of options that would secure the necessary financing.
A further issue highlighted in the monitor is the impact of demographic change on public services and infrastructure, especially in light of the lack of public investment over the past decade.
Social Justice Ireland is seriously concerned that adequate funding is not being provided to address the ageing of the population that will result in a steady increase in older people and people with disabilities accessing services.
Our growing and ageing population means that the resources for home care and social care will have to increase. We have to plan how home help services and home care will be delivered and funded now and into the future. This is particularly pertinent in light of the increasing age dependency in rural Ireland and the increasing numbers of older people living alone.
The number of people in receipt of home care packages has grown, but funding has remained largely static. This has left families struggling to cover the gaps in care for their elderly relatives.
The monitor also highlights the work of carers in Ireland. Unpaid carers account for 4.1 per cent of the population and contribute thousands of hours of unpaid work to the economy. 114,883 people provide up to 28 hours of unpaid care every week. Increased resources must be allocated to reduce the financial and emotional pressures on carers, including increasing the provision of respite opportunities.
Other issues highlighted in the monitor include the need to fully resource the National Skills Strategy, the need to set ambitious emissions targets for 2030, and the need to increase Ireland’s overall tax take in order to provide the necessary services and infrastructure that our growing and ageing population will need.