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Housing Policy: Actions to deliver change. A new report from the National Economic & Social Council.

The National Economic & Social Council’s recently published report on Housing Policy: Actions to Deliver Change once again calls for action on affordability and improved land management.

Revisiting many of the themes they had examined in 2018, their analysis reviewed Ireland’s systems of managing land, delivering housing, urban planning and development and found despite the focus on housing policy and the various schemes implemented since, little has actually changed.

This latest report is written in the dual contexts of the current Programme for Government which aims to ‘provide each citizen with accessible and affordable….housing’ whilst conceding that ensuring ‘housing for all’ is one of the biggest tasks faced and the Covid-19 pandemic which has amplified deficiencies in provision. The Report states that renewed reflection and new policy responses are required to bring about a stable, sustainable and most importantly, permanently affordable housing system.

This report focuses on the gaps in supply and affordability and how to bridge them. The Report recommends that the former be addressed by active land management policies that ensure the public good and the latter by building in permanent affordability measures. These measures would call for institutional change; reviews of the effectiveness and suitability of current policy instruments; and where necessary, the creation of new ways of working.

The Report contains a suite of recommendations for the short, medium and long-term. These include:

  • Creating specialist teams to assist with the complex planning and procurement tasks

  • Establishing a national cost rental scheme at scale

  • Making Part V application more effective

  • Introducing targeted funding streams focused on high impact and compact growth

  • Making the Vacant Site Levy more effective

  • Examining differences in the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) regime to ensure effectiveness

  • Outlining a national programme of flagship to show how these changes can deliver results

  • Tackling the ‘on-off balance sheet’ issue by exploring new affordable rental schemes

  • Examining how the State can be supported to acquire land as per the Kenny report and the All-Party Oireachtas Committee

  • Considering how to increase the share of new social housing

  • Considering actions to reduce under use and vacancy

  • Examining the use of land value capture instruments

  • Identifying and address barriers to the development and introduction to a Site Value Tax

  • Designing new financial products to deliver affordability and cost rental

  • Implementing the Construction Sector Group action plan

  • Using public contracts to encourage good practice in energy efficiency and modern modular methods of construction

  • Developing a new national affordable housing policy that considers amongst others, the issue of affordability

  • Establishing the Land Development Agency (LDA) on a statutory basis

Recommendations then need to be translated into concrete policy and policy into practice sooner rather than later in order that real secure homes can be built for these real people behind the numbers. Almost 133,000 households in Ireland are currently in need of stable, secure, affordable housing. Social Justice Ireland calls for Government to increase the stock of social housing to 20 per cent of all housing in line with other European countries up from the current level of 9 per cent.

The full report can be found HERE. The NESC advises Government on strategic policy issues with regard to sustainable economic, social and environment development in Ireland and Social Justice Ireland CEO, Sean Healy is a member of NESC.

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