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Policy issues concerning Housing

The Government's Housing for All Strategy committed to considering an extension to the Help to Buy Scheme for first time buyers, due to expire in 31 December 2021, and to reviewing it to ensure that it is "apppropriately calibrated". Social Justice Ireland has advocated against Help to Buy since it was introduced and our analysis shows we were correct to do so.

When the Government’s new housing strategy, Housing for All, was published, much was made of the targets to build 33,000 new homes every year, including 90,000 social homes over the period 2021 to 2030. But a look behind the data indicates that these targets are insufficient to meet the need.

The pandemic highlighted the real impact of Ireland’s housing crisis, and the benefit of implementing progressive housing policies. The Government has published its long awaited housing strategy—Housing for All– with a budget of €20 billion over the next five years. Whilst there is much to welcome in the strategy, there are fundamental flaws concerning the scale of the challenges to be addressed. The social and private house building targets are insufficient;  taking a decade to end  homelessness is unacceptable; and the continuation of rental and retail housing subsidies fall short of what is needed.

The Government has published its long-awaited housing strategy – Housing for All – with a budget of €20 billion over the next five years. Housing for All consists of four pathways: Supporting homeownership and increasing affordability; Eradicating homelessness, increasing social housing delivery and supporting social inclusion; Increasing new housing supply; and Addressing vacancy and efficient use of existing stock. There is much to welcome in the Strategy, however fundamental flaws in the targets for social housing and overall construction; a lack of real measures to prevent homelessness; and a continuation of subsidies such as Help to Buy and HAP raise questions as to who will really benefit. Our Review of the Housing for All Strategy is available now.

The provision of adequate and appropriate accommodation must be a key element of delivering a Fairer Recovery.

The Central Bank of Ireland published a series of papers this week on the subject of mortgage arrears. One of these papers 'Long-term mortgage arrears: Analytical evidence for policy considerations' clearly shows that for many mortgage borrowers, the impact of the 2008 financial crash is still being felt. Government needs to invest in equity supports that benefit those who need them most, beginning with those in arrears of more than 10 years in Budget 2022.

In March 2021, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage published the 2020 Social Housing Construction Statistics Report. Page 4 of this Report makes for interesting reading in that it sets out the 'Rebuilding Ireland Total Cumulative Social Housing Delivery'. Unsurprisingly, HAP accounts for the vast majority of the 124,749 solutions delivered between 2016 and 2020 (65 per cent). However, these figures are not just misleading, they're downright wrong, with more than one in four of these HAP tenancies either failing or double-counted due to renewal.

How we plan our finances, and what we choose to prioritise, post-Covid-19, will have profound implications for the future of our economy and society. To this end Social Justice Ireland proposed to the Select Committee on Budgetary Oversight that the priorities for Budget 2022 should be adequate social welfare rates and poverty reduction, just taxation, housing for all and tackling unemployment. 

The Economic Recovery Plan announced today, while welcome, is not of the scale required to address the social, economic and environmental challenges that we now face. Covid-19 has brought extraordinary social and economic costs.  Alongside this, the challenges that existed pre-Covid remain and cannot be ignored

Social Justice Ireland has today submitted our 10 Point Plan to deliver Housing for Allas part of the Government's anticipated new housing strategy. Our proposals move away from housing as a commodity towards housing as a home, addressing deficits in homelessness prevention and supports; necessary increases in social housing provision; affordable housing; strengthening the private rented sector; and ensuring that housing developments are provide for sustainable communities.