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Housing Crisis

Major housing report criticises government for 'ineffective decision-making and risk aversion'

The Housing Commission report finds that Ireland’s housing deficit stands at around 256,000.

LAST UPDATE | 21 May

GOVERNMENT WAS SLAMMED by opposition members today over revelations from a leaked Housing Commission report which estimates the housing deficit in Ireland is up to 256,000 homes.

The report is strongly critical of the government’s housing policing, particularly the “ineffective decision making and reactive policy making where risk aversion dominates”.

Among the recommendations, seen by The Journal, is a call to change the standards for rental accommodation in private and cost-rental homes to allow accommodation to be let “without white goods appliances” – meaning fitted kitchens and wardrobes.

It follows urgings to carry out market research to examine whether people would be open to buying or renting pared back properties without a fitted kitchen and wardrobes, if it meant the price would be lower, according to a cost of construction report.

Speaking as he arrived at this morning’s Cabinet meeting, Taoiseach Simon Harris said a “step change” is now needed in terms of ambition in housing.

It was a point he reiterated in Leaders’ Questions today, stating that “government wants to do more and government wants to hear new ideas”.

Harris said the report, which has 83 recommendations and 500 actions, was commissioned by government and will be officially published shortly. 

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said the report confirms that the government’s housing policy is failing. She said an urgent ramping up on the delivery of affordable homes to buy and rent is needed.

The Housing Commission “is telling you directly that your housing plan isn’t working”, she said.

McDonald said the commission is calling for social and affordable housing delivery to increase to 20% of total housing stock.

“The report makes it clear that government failure is undermining affordability in the housing system,” she added. 

Labour leader Ivana Bacik said the report describes fundamental systemic failures in housing. She questioned the delay in publishing the report, asking the Taoiseach if it was being pushed out due to the local and European elections. 

The Taoiseach responded by stating that Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien has had the report for 13 days, since 8 May. He said that was a reasonable period for the minister to take to consider the report, while confirming that it will be published this week. 

A statement from the Housing Commission today confirmed that it submitted its final report after being asked to compile a comprehensive review of the housing sector.

“The report gives a comprehensive view on how Ireland’s housing policy has developed over many decades, the current issues and the long-term planning that is now required to build upon the immediate plans that are already underway in government policy.

“The work of the Commission has now concluded, and the report will be assessed and brought to the Cabinet by the Minister. The publication of the report is a matter for the government,” it said. 

Earlier this month, Michael O’Flynn, CEO of the Flynn Group and member of the Housing Commission told RTÉ’s Brendan O’Connor programme that he has “total confidence” that those in the construction sector have the capacity presently to build 50,000 houses per year.

With reporting by Eoghan Dalton

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