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Is this the 'ambitious action' needed to fix Ireland's social housing market?

A new report has said the sector is ‘at a crossroads’.

Image: housing via Shutterstock.com

ECONOMISTS HAVE WARNED that social housing in Ireland is ‘at a crossroads’, and that ‘ambitious action’ is needed to create a more cost-effective and stable system.

The National Economic and Social Council has developed what could be the answer to this, outlining steps the government could take.

In a new report, the organisation looks to tackle several problems stifling the sector in Ireland right now.

These range from a lack of supply in local authorities due to borrowing constraints, state exposure to rising private rents, and low-income tenants being unable to secure housing, resulting in a risk of overcrowding and homelessness.

The Government has already stated that a strategy for social housing will be developed for the sector, as outlined in it’s a strategy for the construction sector.

“The central challenge is to create an effective and interconnected combination of finance, supply and cost rental,” director Dr Rory O’Donnell said.

He argued that “experience strongly suggests that these connections will not be established automatically or by providing incentives to uncoordinated private or public actors. Instead NESC believes new institutional arrangements are necessary to move policy in this direction”.

Social Housing Source: NESC

The report considers how ‘low cost competitive finance could be provided to fund the quantity and quality of housing required, and in such a way that it does not add to government debt’.

Second, it examines” how renting could be made more affordable and attractive and by extension how this could stabilise Ireland’s wider housing sector”, where it looks to Europe for models of cost rental.

Third, it argues there needs to be “more direct public policy influence on housing supply and urban development”.

Last week a major new study into how the stability of the private rented sector can be ensured was announced by the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB).

It followed a request from Minister of State for Housing Jan O’Sullivan to conduct a study into the sector to gauge what policies would be appropriate.

Read: New funding to boost house construction but Dublin city to see budget slashed >

‘Getting worse by the night’: TDs debate Ireland’s growing housing crisis >

More: Tenancies board to investigate how rents can be brought under control >

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Nicky Ryan

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