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'Misleading and grossly inaccurate': Minister slams critics of housing plan

An opposition TD said that if Labour backed the new measures the party would have “completely abandoned any pretence of social justice”.

Jan O'Sullivan
Jan O'Sullivan
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

THE MINISTER FOR Housing Jan O’Sullivan has described opposition claims about the Government’s new Bill to tackle the housing crisis as “misleading and grossly inaccurate”.

Critics of the new legislation have said that the new laws will mean that those in receipt of the new Housing Assistance Payment will be deemed to have had their needs met, and taken off social housing lists.

Independent Deputy Catherine Murphy has called for Labour TDs to reconsider their support for the Bill, which will be debated by the Dáil this evening, saying that if it’s allowed to go ahead in its current form the party will have “completely abandoned any pretence of social justice”.

While Ruth Coppinger, the newly elected Socialist Party TD for Dublin West, claimed the new rules would also “make it easier for councils to evict people”.

The Minister said in a statement:

Opposition claims that recipients of Housing Assistance Payment will be excluded from moving to other forms of social housing – such as traditional local authority housing or units provided by Approved Housing Bodies – are misleading and grossly inaccurate.

She continues:

The new system will specifically provide a route for HAP tenants to apply for other social housing options. HAP tenants will exercise this option through inclusion on a transfer list that allows tenants avail of a range of housing options.

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However, speaking on RTÉ’s News at One this afternoon, former Labour minister Roisín Shortall insisted that the new measures would not encourage people to join the new HAP scheme.

“You could have a family that have been on the waiting list for five or six years. Their only option now is to accept this housing assistance payment and by doing so they will be removed from the housing list, so it’s an extremely unfair.

They would have lost their place on the list by going on the new Housing Assistance Payment and that’s the issue.

Shortall said the measure represented “an attempt to massage the housing figures” and that the Government appeared to be washing its hands of responsibility for providing a proper public housing programme.

Read: Housing Bill dismissed as a ‘ridiculous ploy’ to make the government ‘look better’

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Daragh Brophy

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